By Vanessa Obioha
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has called for peace and unity in Nigeria following recent agitations in the country. He stated this at the Honour Nigeria Awards where he recieved a leadership award. Â
â€œWe must all support one Nigeria, Â work hard to make Nigeria one. We have to convince people to believe in one Nigeria. I assure you that there are more Â who love Â Nigeria and want Nigeria to continue in peace and Â development than those who are trying to create problems for Nigeria.
â€œI love Nigeria, I respect Nigeria. We fought the civil war with a code of conduct to the truth. How to treat the people right, that we do not call the other people enemy, we only called them rebels. They are our brothers and sisters and must do everything we can to ensure that they live in peace and that was why I made the statement at the end of the war â€˜no victor, no vanquishedâ€™ to help us with the reconciliation that we needed to build the country. But for some various reasons, we Nigerians created the problems for ourselves and we will solve it ourselves.â€Â
While receiving his award, he acknowledged Nigerians for their support throughout the years and dedicated the award to every Nigerian who fought for peace of the country.Â
â€œIâ€™m humbled by this. I accept the award on behalf of all Nigerians: past, present and the future trying to keep Nigeria one, to love one another and make Nigeria great. We can do it. Forget all these ethnic differences that is happening and harassment from here and there.â€
Gowon also expressed concern for the younger generation, emphasising the need for youths to live and act like future leaders. Â
â€œMy concern is for the well-being of the younger generation, that they are the leaders of the future. That is why one of my instructions during the war is that they must not harm any old people, women and children. We must give them all the protection that they need. Iâ€™m delighted to also say that a lot of those young people who advised me at the end of the war has said Â that we as elders and leaders should never allow any Nigerian child to suffer what they suffered during the civil war. That is the reason why we paid a lot of attention to the young people back then Â because they are the future.â€Â
Pastor Ituah Ighodalo of Trinity House also seized the opportunity to encourage Nigerians to maximise their vast potentials during his sermon.Â
An initiative of Trinity House, the Honour Nigeria Awards was launched in 2011 as part of activities to mark the independence anniversary celebration. The award seeks to recognise and acknowledge outstanding Nigerians who have contributed to the countryâ€™s national development in areas of leadership, professionalism, industry, philanthropy, Female Leadership and Role Model; andÂ elder statesman and Africa Prize as role models for present and future generations.
Other awardees include Senator David Dafinone, Dr. Stella Okoli, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Peter Nwosu and Dr. Yolanda George-David.Â