Gowon concerned about ethnic and religious division in Nigeria, condemns division among Northern elders


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Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon has expressed concern about the division in the country along ethnic and religious lines. The civil war hero who spoke at the inauguration of the new leaders of the Arewa Consultative Forum also expressed dismay at the political division amongst Northern elders.

He said Nigerians must unite to defeat the problems plaguing the country including the Boko Haram menace.

His words: “There is need for Nigerians to come together and unleash their synergy against the security challenges and other national malaise, be it Boko Haram, ethno-religious crisis, kidnapping, militant activism, armed robbery or piracy or any other such act that disrupt the peace and harmony and threatens the economic and social development of the country.

“We believe the situation is not beyond redemption and so, should not be allowed to set a national agenda of reconsideration of our unity and nationhood.

“Freedom brought about by democracy… is expected to thrive on a tripod of: foundation of liberty, justice and common decency. That is why it is said that democracy is rather a contest of ideas and reasons and not contest for survival where politicians take it out violently among themselves in the name of democracy. Only Liberty, justice and common decency are true elements of democracy.”

“The different times should spur national grandeur, bring about good leadership and the best in every one of us, instead of the current hype in ethnic nationalism and religious bigotry that seek to promote cleavages that is self destructive. It is very important to note that no nation thrive on the victory of factions, but through ultimate reconciliation”.

He frowned at the emergence of different elders’ groups in the north, noting that the ACF was built on the promise of an unwavering commitment to the pursuit of peaceful coexistence in the north and in the context of one united Nigeria.

He said “I am compelled to mention this because the ACF emerged through the coming together of northern elders for the expressed purpose of promoting peaceful coexistence in the north as precondition for socio-economic development of the north and that of Nigeria.

“We do not share in the reason being advanced in favour of proliferation of elders groups that ACF is not politically active. It is important to note that while ACF may not be politically partisan for obvious reasons, many of the forum’s members belong to different political parties.”

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