Poverty, Biggest Enemy of Democracy in Nigeria, Says Gowon


John Shiklam in Kaduna

Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), has said poverty is the biggest enemy of democracy in Nigeria

Gowon who spoke in Kaduna at the annual submit and dinner organised by House of Justice also expressed deep concern over the growing unemployment rate in the country.

Speaking on the theme: “Building a nation Justice and peace, Gowon who was represented by former information minister, Prof. Jerry Gana, noted that because of the mass poverty in the country, politics had become for the highest bidder.

He said the principle of values no longer matters to politicians as they use their ill gotten money to get to public offices by buying the conscience of poor Nigerians.

Gowon said: “The issue of politics without principles is becoming worrisome, where the highest bidder have takes whatever is on the table. That cannot be the way of politics.

“No nation can ever build a society where the consideration is not in terms of value, principles or ideals, but to share money.

“If we want to build a nation of justice and peace, it cannot be on the basis of the highest bidder.
“We must reject poverty. This rejection of poverty is legitimate. Millions of Nigerians are poor. The biggest enemy of democracy is poverty. When people are poor, when people are reduced to destitutes, then a little money can change their minds.

“Therefore, the freedom of choice in a democracy is taken away by those who control the resources.”
He said: “f we want our democracy to be durable and ensure a just an peaceful nation, we must generate jobs for the unemployment.

Gowon declared that Nigerians have no business with poverty because God almighty has bless the country in so many ways with tremendous resources.

He said what is required is to transform these resources to goods and services to our people.

“We must look forward to building a nation of justice and peace so that Nigerians will spend their time in working for the common good, not in killing one another, running from one end to the other.”

He said further that creation of jobs was very imperative to the stability of the nation.

He lamented that millions of Nigerians, some highly educated have no jobs, pointing out that unemployment

is a very serious threat to peace and stability.

Also in his remarks during the occasion, Senator Ben Murray Bruce restated calls for the restructuring of Nigeria.

According to him, only restructuring can addressed the myriads of challenges facing the country.

“Nigeria is not working as a state. Our population is growing faster than our economy.

“It should be obvious by now that if we do not renegotiate Nigeria, if we do not restructure, we will keep reacting over one problem or the other.

“How could we say a nation with the highest number of private jet owners, yet without its airline does not need restructuring?” he asked.

He maintained that any one opposed to restructuring is living in denials, stressing that Nigeria needs restructuring to foster peaceful coexistence among the various people.

He said: “By restructuring we will not have a situation where Lagos generates five per cent of Nigeria’s value added tax, yet other states get the largest share of those revenues than Lagos State.

“This is even when those states banned the sale of the items from Lagos in their states.

“We should not wait for things to fall apart because the centre no longer holds.”