Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd), has been described as a good example of a genuine elder statesman, who every Nigerian political leader should emulate.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who made this known at the thanksgiving service to mark Gen. Gowon’s 80th birthday at the National Christian Centre in Abuja yesterday, described the ex-head of state as somebody deserving to be honoured because of his exemplary leadership.
According to the president, Gowon is a good example of an elder statesman, noting that statesmen set good examples for the next generation just as Gowon has done and is still doing.
He said, “You (Gowon) are a good example of elder statesman. You are a true patriot of this country. We know that some of us are not expected to come and talk about General Gowon because when he was the head of state, I was still in primary school.
“But one thing we knew then about Gowon was that as a patriot and the head of government then, he was prosecuting the civil war. He did not see the Biafran side as a thing that must be crushed. He saw the war as a struggle of Nigerians and his emphasis was ‘how do we keep Nigeria together’.
“That was why the slogan, ‘to keep Nigeria one’, is a task that must be done’, came up. His commitment was to unite this country, that is, to keep Nigeria one, not to win a war, or defeat an opponents and crush the rebellion, but to keep this nation indivisible. Gowon did that very well. At the end of the war, rehabilitation, reconciliation and reconstruction came up. And that was the emphasis”.
President Jonathan pointed out that to underscore his commitment to keep Nigeria one and to prepare the nation for the future generation, “since he (Gowon) came back from his studies, he has been working with every regime to see that we develop our nation. He is somebody that we all should emulate”.
In his response, the celebrant said that he was humbled by all the encomiums showered on him.
“I feel humbled, but that all glory and thanks should be given to God”, he said, and urged every Nigerian, whenever there is trouble, to put everything in the hands of God and He will solve them.