Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has described what he called Nigerians’ desire for a perfect state as impossible.
The retired General, however, insisted that the country would not succumb to the myriad of challenges it is facing.
Gowon made the remarks on Friday, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, as a special guest of honour at the 17th Wole Soyinka Annual Lecture, with the theme: “This House Must Not Fall: Renegotiating Nigeria’s Social Contract After 100 Years of Nationhood,” organised by the National Association of Seadogs as part of activities marking the 80th birthday of the Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
The event was attended by the state governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun; Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Right Reverend Matthew Kukah; co-founder, Transparency International, Dr Oby Ezekwesili; the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo; Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, who was represented, among other dignitaries.
“Every nation has a problem, even the advanced countries. I am optimistic that things will take shape in this country. No matter what happens, I am confident that this nation will not fall. I have great belief and faith that the younger ones will do it better.
“The major problem that we have today is that people want a perfect Nigeria of their own making. But we need to understand, learn and respect each other’s point of view,” Gowon said.
He expressed his belief in the unity of the country and underscored the need for fellow citizens to embrace peace and learn to respect each other’s opinions.
Commenting on the state of security in the country, the former Head of State urged Nigerians to do away with the attitude of seeking external solution to local challenges.
He also asked politicians to drop the culture of discontinuing projects initiated by their predecessors, saying such attitude could be inimical to the development of the nation.
Ezekwesili, delivering a lecture on the theme of the lecture, said there was the need for Nigerians to negotiate a new social contract by demanding good governance, rule of law and justice.
She enjoined Nigerians to become more conscious and proactive about democracy and be prepared to make sacrifices.
The former Minister of Education lamented that corruption had worsened poverty in the country.
“The willingness to come to the table and negotiate the social contract is dependent on the fact that even the rich cannot sleep because they know that the poor are awake. Unfortunately, we don’t have sufficient time to demand for a renegotiation of the social structure,” she stated.
Kukah, who also spoke on “Celebrating Wole Soyinka: 80 Years of Genius and Prophetic Outrage,” described Soyinka as a genius.
He said the Nobel Laureate could be best defined as a “secular prophet,” admitting that he (Soyinka) remained one of the greatest human beings from Africa.
Kukah challenged the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) to publish works of literary icons like Soyinka into many languages possible. [NT]
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