The spate of crises in the northeast has led General Yakubu Gowon, who led Nigeria through a 30-month civil war to lamented that the country had fallen into full scale civil war.
Gowon speaking to newsmen on Sunday, April 20, 2014, in part of events marking the 73rd birthday of the former secretary to the Government 0f the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, said the government needs to deal with the menace of terrorism rising in the country in order to keep Nigeria united.
Gowon, who spoke exclusively to Vanguard on the sideline of events marking the 75th birthday of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette, said it was imperative for the government to firmly deal with the rising wave of terrorism in the country so as to keep the country one.
The former head of state pointed out that what was going on in Nigeria was close to the challenges the 30-month civil war posed to his administration.
He said that it was necessary for all Nigerians to team up with the government to ensure that the forces opposed to the continued unity and progress of the country were roundly defeated.
Describing the insurgents as enemies of a united Nigeria, Gowon enjoined Nigerians to support the federal government with necessary prayers to God to end the cycle of violence being unleashed on the nation by the insurgents.
Gowon said: “What we are witnessing today is not too different from what happened during my administration as head of state and we moved ahead to checkmate the insurgency.
“We need to pray and work with the government to ensure that this ugly cycle of violence comes to an end so that the unity of Nigeria is not threatened. It is therefore imperative for the government to take appropriate decisions to deal with the spate of violence sweeping through the country so that this country can remain as one united entity,” he admonished.
While speaking at the birthday celebration, Gowon had said that he stood his ground to ensure that Nigeria remained as one during the civil war because he believed in the unity of the nation.
He pointed out that although he was not the one who coined “Go Ahead With One Nigeria, GOWON”, the coinage significantly inspired him to resist all attempts by certain elements to divide the country.
The former head of state therefore appealed to Nigerian leaders at all levels to ensure that they render quality service to their people and also resist the temptation to stay in office beyond the stipulated terms in the constitution.
Gowon, who poured encomiums on Chief Ekaette, who had served him as Private Secretary between 1968 and 1975, said the former SGF was an embodiment of loyalty, hard work and transparency, who should be emulated by all well meaning Nigerians.