… As Okorocha warns against politicising national challenges
George Onyejiuwa; Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, yesterday, said that his heart bleeds over the incessant killing of innocent Nigerians following the activities of Boko Haram, herdsmen and other violent groups in the country. Gowon, who spoke when he paid a courtesy call on Governor Rochas Okorocha at the Government House, Owerri, said that Nigeria needs peace to enable the citizens to 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 could touch the hearts of all those involved in the killings across the country like He touched the heart of biblical Saul and changed him to become an instrument of transformation instead of destruction. He maintained that no situation is too difficult for God to change for better. His words: “After the civil war, from this town Owerri, I visited Nsukka, Enugu, Abakiliki, 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’.
“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 further noted that without peace, the country cannot move forward. He urged Nigerians to continue to pray and do whatever it takes to achieve peace. “We are in Imo for the Nigeria Prayer rally, a prayer rally we have been doing throughout the geo-political 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 and suing for peace, which is what the country needs now,” he added.
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 solution. He warned against politicising the current challenges of the country, adding that those that had lost their lives “in all these madness” were people of all ethnic groups, religions and perhaps political groups.
He said Nigerians irrespective of their religious and political leanings should come up with ideas on how best to come out from these challenges and stop talking in a manner that tends to aggravate the problem.
“The acronym Gowon means go-on with one Nigeria. 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,” Okorocha said.
He added: “This gentleman is 84 years old. We will honour him in our state. We are happy that he is still looking stronger 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 were not going on over Nigeria.”