As Nigeria continues to grapple with security challenges across the country, a former Head of State and leader of the Nigeria Prays Movement, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) has called for caution.
Gowon spoke at the Government House, Osogbo, Saturday, when he led the leadership of the Nigeria Prays Movement on a courtesy visit on the Osun State governor, Adegboyega Oyetola.
He also called for attitudinal change among Nigerians, saying peace and harmony would only be achieved in a refined society.
Gowon expressed regret that after the civil war, Nigeria was still battling with serial security challenges ranging from Boko Haram; kidnapping; banditry and lots more.
He said that if the security agencies could not stop the security problems facing the nation, prayers could.
While urging Nigerians to work and pray for peace, the former Nigeria’s leader maintained that peace was sine qua non to socio-economic growth and development.
Gowon, who described Oyetola’s victory as one ordained by God, commended the governor for taking deliberate step to maintain peace in the state.
He said: “I am delighted and grateful to God for the opportunity to be here to pray for peace, unity, stability and progress of this country.
“We are here to pray for the well-being of Nigerians and for the leadership of Nigeria from President Muhammadu Buhari to state governors, particularly those in the South West.
“Our yearning for peace is very overwhelming, and as members of the movement, our role is to pray for the unity, peace and stability of our country. I had thought that after the civil war, we will not see any more crises. But what we have seen…it is unfortunate that after civil war, our nation has been battling with serial security challenges ranging from Boko Haram; kidnapping; banditry and lots more. If the security forces cannot do it, God has the power to change evil men to be good again, just like he did to Saul.
“We have to be careful so that we don’t push ourselves into doing things that will make us hate ourselves. We have seen the need to seek God’s intervention as the only way to rescue our nation from all forms of security challenges.
“We are here to pray and touch the hearts of Nigerians to embrace peace, unity and stability because it is our belief that God will touch the hearts of the evil doers.
“We are praying fervently to put our nation in the path of peace, and also to preach against things that can separate us or put us apart, and I am delighted to be in Osun to preach love and understanding to us for the good of our country.
“I must also commend the governor for the warm reception. I have never had such a wonderful welcome before.”
Responding Oyetola said he believed in the efficacy of prayers.
He said that with prayers, Nigeria could work.
He maintained that his victory as governor of the state was a testimony that God answered sincere prayers.
He attributed some challenges confronting Nigeria to lack of faith in God, urging Nigerians to renew their faith in God.
He also commended the former Head of State for displaying high sense of commitment to achieving a united Nigeria.
“I feel highly honoured to receive our former Head of State in Osun as I consider this visit a great honour considering the fact that you are a man of integrity, a man of honour and a man of peace.
“You have committed yourself to the service of your country, and even after your tenure as the Head of State, you have been preaching peace and unity anywhere you go. There is no doubting the fact that you have been so supportive to successive administrations without compromising the unity and oneness of Nigeria.
“I believe so much in the efficacy of prayer, and I believe that your visit will further help to strengthen peace, unity and stability in our state,” the governor said.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Prays Movement Team, accompanied by the governor and his wife, Alhaja Kafayat Oyetola, was also at the palace of the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun, Larooye II.
While receiving them, the Osogbo monarch maintained that Nigeria had remained as one today because of the efforts of Gowon.
He described Gowon as one of the country’s best. He said, “His commitment to the unity of Nigeria was the reason his name ‘Gowon’ had been fondly rephrased as ‘Go on With One Nigeria.’ General Yakubu Gowon is the best and the luckiest of all the Nigerian leaders. Because he is a good manager, he has maintained himself well and remained healthy even in old age. He loves the country and is committed to our unity as a country.”
The Osogbo monarch also lauded Governor Oyetola’s unique style of administration, describing him as a man of God and great gift to the good people of Osun State.
“Governor Oyetola is a gift to the people of Osun. He is a man that is gentle in the face but tough and decisive when it comes to taking actions that will positively impact on the lives of the people. A true believer, he will never doubt his God and that is why God has continued to lift him high. My prayer is that he should succeed till the last day of his tenure and beyond,” the monarch added.