- As Okorocha warns against politicizing national challenges
Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Former Head of State General Yakubu Gowon has expressed dismay over the incessant insecurity challenges in Nigeria, saying that his heart bleeds over the activities of Boko Haram, herdsmen, and other armed militants, whose actions he described as man’s inhumanity to man.
General Gowon spoke when he paid a courtesy call on Governor Rochas Okorocha at the Government House Owerri over the weekend, as part of his tour for a prayer rally in the country.
Gowon stated that Nigeria needs peace so that all its people can live and work together in the interest of one another and in the overall interest of the country.
According to the former Head of State, with prayers God can touch the hearts of all those involved in the terror killings like he touched that of the biblical Saul, who he changed to become an instrument of transformation instead of destruction, adding that no situation is too difficult for God to change for the better.
“After the Civil War, from this town Owerri, I visited Nsukka, Enugu, Abakeliki, Umuahia, and Onitsha. We were impressed with the way the children turned out to welcome us. They were saying, you are our parents, our leaders, please do not allow any Nigerian child to suffer what we suffered,” Gowon said, recalling the experience of the Nigerian Civil War.
“God can touch one’s heart and change the person into becoming a vessel of peace. My prayer for every Nigerian man is to live in harmony. We would wish every man and woman and religious leaders to rally round and assist in any way possible. Every one of us has a role to play, not only the leaders. That is why we seek for God’s intervention,” Gowon said.
He further added that “without peace, we cannot go further. Let us continue to pray and do whatever we can to achieve the peace we all desire. Your role and our collective role is important.”
Explaining his reason for the visit, Gowon said: “We are in Imo for the Nigeria Prayer Rally. A prayer rally we have been doing throughout the geopolitical zones or States. This time around, it is for the South-East Zone to host the prayer rally, and Imo is hosting us. Your Excellency, we are grateful for the arrangements and support. We are impressed with your zeal and passion for Christ, suing for peace, which is what the country needs now,” the former military ruler said.
Governor Okorocha in his speech advised Nigerians to see the activities of groups like Boko Haram and others as national problems or challenges that require all hands to be on deck for solutions, but that the crises should not be politicized. He added that those who have lost their lives in the current troubles are people of all ethnic backgrounds, religions and political affiliations.
The Governor called on Nigerians, regardless of their religious and political persuasions, to come up with ideas on how best to come out from the country’s challenges, and should stop talking in a manner that would aggravate the problems.
“The acronym Gowon means “Go On with One Nigeria,” Okorocha quipped. “If this leader (Gowon) seated with us here today had not ended the war the way it ended, giving room for no victor, no vanquished postulations, today we would not be having a nation called Nigeria. His name is synonymous with peace. A man who ended the Civil War without bad feelings.”
He further remarked about Gowon that “this gentleman is 84 years old. We will honour him in our state. We are happy that he is still looking strong and young. In the face of the crisis that we have today, he has continued to pray. I do not know what would have happened to the Nigerian situation if prayers like this are not going on all over Nigeria. Thank God, in the face of these challenges, we have men who are busy praying for the nation and her people,” Okorocha said.