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Gowon defends civil war, pardon for Alamieyeseigha, others

By The Citizen
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Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), Monday relived the civil war 43 years after it threatened the foundations of the country.

Gowon, a major participant in the war, explained in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, what forced his government to be involved in the 30-month civil war which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Gowon, who was hosted by the American University (AUN) of Yola to address the university members of staff and students during his prayer rally in Yola, took 58 minutes 37 seconds to defend before his local and foreign audience the role of his administration in the civil war.

He said that he was not fighting enemies, but rebels that were out to cause trouble and abuse constituted authorities charged with the constitutional responsibility to maintain peace and unity in the country.

'Nigeria's integrity was threatened by the action of some rebels. I had no choice than to use the constitutional powers conferred on me as the Head of State and my oath of office to always defend the integrity and unity of the country at all times', he stated.

The former Head of State said that some Nigerians were misled by the rebels to join them to fight their country for no reason.

'I was only trying to bring back my sisters and brothers that were misled by the rebels. I took that action in the best interest of my country Nigeria guided by the constitution of the country', he maintained.

Gowon, who said that the civil war united Nigeria, pointed out that the country would always use the sad experience of the 1967 civil war and avoid such an unprofitable venture.

'The 30-month civil war brought peace and unity in Nigeria that no country in the world can have', he stated.

He said that the Boko Haram and other crises in the country were fuelled by political activities, selfish interest and poverty.

'I don't know whether those that are behind these crises know the havoc they are causing to their regions and themselves', he lamented.

Gowon urged Nigerians to devote more time to praying for the country, pointing out that with prayers, God could intervene in any sad situation like the crises in the nation.

'If we combine prayers and the action the present administration is taking to address the crises, it is possible that very soon all that is happening now will become history', he stated.

While commenting on the controversy surrounding the presidential pardon granted to the convicted former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, he said that the Council of State took the decision based on the grounds that he had finished serving the punishment for the offence he committed and that he promised not to commit such an offence again.

The Nigeria Prays co-ordinator pointed out that it was within the constitutional powers of the president to grant any person he chooses pardon.

In her welcome remarks, the President of AUN, Dr. Margee Ensign, said that Gowon and the United States' former President Abraham Lincoln had the same experience of fighting to defend their countries.

She disclosed that Gowon was the first Nigerian Head of State, former or serving, to visit AUN.

The AUN boss advised Nigerian leaders to build on the foundation of Gowon and ensure the country remained as one entity for fast development to take place. The Guardian