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Whoever viewed the video report of the event at which presidential aspirants signed declarations of peaceful conduct at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, on Wednesday February 13, 2019, would see on the face of retired General Yakubu Gowon and Nigeria’s most senior retired military officer signs of concern for the nation.  Beyond that, his voice, as relayed on television indicated that he felt genuinely disturbed about what becomes of Nigeria, not only during and after the elections of February 16, 2019, but also long after even the present generation has departed. Whoever has had direct dealings with Gen. Gowon would attest to his good nature, extreme humility and simplicity; as well as his genuine disposition to peaceful conducts.

SIMPLY SIMPLE: Twice, this writer ran into Mrs. Victoria Gowon at the London Heathrow airport in recent years. Like the husband, there was no aide to carry her bag following her. I shook my head in disbelief – the wife of a former head of state going around just like that without an escort! I recalled in discussions with Gen. Gowon’s personal assistant – Adeyeye recently,  how the former Nigerian leader visited Osun State Government House in 2006 on NIGERIA PRAYS assignment. On arrival at the Presidential Lodge where he was housed, Gen. Gowon could have sent for the governor who would have reported within five minutes. Instead, the General sent a word to then Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola that he was coming to greet him.  Prince Oyinlola shouted:  ‘’ABOMINATION’!,  left what he was doing, called his wife and rushed down to where Gen. Gowon stayed.  I was even more surprised when his personal assistant gave me Gen. Gowon;s personal mobile number! . When this piece – an admonition was received this afternoon, I knew it came from a heart genuinely committed to the peace of Nigeria. Please spare some time to read this piece by Gen (Dr) Yakubu Gowon, GCFR, Nigeria’s military Head of State from 1966 to 1975.



The historic struggles and sacrifices of the colonial days may have receded in our national memory but the hopes and joys that attended our independence on the 1st of October 1960 will forever be cherished memories in the hearts of many that by God’s grace are alive till date.  The road since then may have been rough but we have crawled, scratched and made progress inch by inch. Age and experience will confirm that honest, open and true stewardship is the best form of leadership for a people that have continually held on to hope in the face of great troubles. We can even admit that the slide in moral standards and value of human worth in Nigeria may have started many decades ago but this overwhelming plunge into extreme corruption of recent years has been a heart breaking experience to us.

It is difficult for elders to stand by and watch as the nation is bleeding profusely and pretend that all is well as it should be. The violent turn of expressions, deepened economic hardships and increasing desperation of the national polity has to be reversed to keep hope alive. No matter how dimmed the eyesight of the elders are, our ears can still hear the pitiful cry of our grand and great grandchildren braving desert treks and other equally hazardous routes to escape the pain that Nigerian life has become. Neither are we ignorant of the surge in prostitution, suicides and resurgence of ritual murders in the land. When you add the nefarious activities of the boko haram and the resort to widespread violence by Fulani herdsmen arising from the grazing crisis due to pressure of increasing population on land which several Administrations have failed to deal with over the years, it becomes clear that our cherished nation is approaching a frontier it has never seen before.

This is certainly not business as usual and the trauma of the civil war we survived should be a warning flag across all spheres of leadership. As we soak in all the attendant factors including the toxic political culture of the present hour and the predatory tonality of the ongoing election processes it has become imperative that we must speak up as elders. Our first counsel to the nation as it approaches this new frontier is that innovative strategies and ingenious initiatives that can build consensus and mold opinion to defuse the rancorous tension must be considered as a priority over and above all else with the elections inclusive.

Beyond our counsels, the burdened elders will follow up with further consultations with all stakeholders to pursue wise, non-violent and non-partisan interventions towards the nation of our dreams. Even as we admit that the lyrics were written by Lillian Jean Williams, a British expatriate of those days, we are minded to take the generations back to the capture of our original vision for Nigeria in the words penned in that old national anthem and culled from the first and second stanzas respectively.

“Nigeria we hail thee, our own dear native land, though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand”… “Our flag shall be a symbol that truth and justice reign, in peace or battle honored, and this we count as gain, to hand on to our children, a banner without stain.”  

God willing we are determined to honor the call we started out with even if it were the last call to national duty that we must perform before we are summoned to glory where we must answer to our Maker whether the banner we will hand over to the generations after would be stainless or colored crimson with the blood of the innocent. Our final appeal to all good persons across all generations and divides of tribe, tongue or creed is to calm down and work for the future of our nation as we deploy everything that God has given us as elders towards a nation where no man is oppressed and peace & plenty will be the norm. Please let us all march forward knowing that no matter how dark the night may become the breaking of the dawn is a promise of God that can never fail.


Head of State, Federal Republic of Nigeria (1966-1975)