Gowon At 80: Fashola Seeks Moral And Spiritual Reconstruction Of Nigeria
SAN FRANCISCO, October 14, (THEWILL) -Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), Tuesday in Abuja, called for what he described as the moral and spiritual reconstruction of the country, saying though the assets of Nigeria, in men and material resources, have continued to grow or at least remain undiminished, the values of Nigerians have diminished in many vast quantities.
The Lagos governor made the call in an address he gave at the Leadership Newspaper Annual Conference and 2013 Awards Presentation to celebrate the 80th birthday of former military Head of State and elder statesman, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), insisting that Nigerians have really lost their innocence.
In his address, titled : Rebuilding The Nation: Lessons From Other Lands, Fashola described Gowon as a patriot and public servant of no mean repute, saying the circumstances which thrust a young General Gowon upon Nigeria as a leader in the 1960s are not too different from what appears on the country's political and social landscape from what any honest Nigerian can see.
He however lamented the situation in which Nigerians have suddenly found themselves.
'Why would we gather to celebrate the 80th birthday anniversary of General Gowon, who led us through a bitter civil war, inaugurated a rebuilding process built on 3Rs of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reconciliation and 44 years after that process, we will gather to discuss a topic such as 'Rebuilding the Nation: Lessons from other Lands' if all was well with Nigeria, ' he asked.
'Indeed the dark clouds that gather are this time prefaced by an ominous prediction about the continuity of our union from a place far away, ' Fashola said.
Quoting from a speech delivered by the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo in 1970, Fashola said 'If anybody has any doubt about what I say, I will recall history and go back to a speech delivered on Sunday 5th February 1970 in which it was partly said as follows:
'Before and since the end of the civil war, we have heard a good deal about physical reconstruction, with particular and almost exclusive reference to the reconstruction of roads, bridges, airports, buildings, market-places and other such-like material and concrete objects which were damaged during the war.
'I know, and I want to assure you, that all the Governments of the Federation are already busy making gargantuan preparations to the end that every trace, however slight, of the extensive physical damage done during the war shall be totally erased within the next year or two. But, if the rebuilding of roads, bridges, etc. were all that needed to be done, then the task of reconstruction would be an exceedingly easy proposition.
'For Nigeria has the requisite material and financial, as well as the human resources to tackle these jobs effectively and expeditiously. In addition, it has a large circle of friendly countries which are prepared to come to its aid as and when required.
'But before we have travelled far on the road of material reconstruction, we must realise, and do so vividly and truthfully, that the most crucial areas of reconstruction are the minds of Nigerian citizens on both sides of the fighting line.
'In other words, in addition to material reconstruction, there is an urgent and massive need for moral and spiritual reconstruction as well: the kind of reconstruction which will help to demolish morbid desire for naked power and domination; abuse and misuse of power and office; greed, selfishness, and intolerance; nepotism, favouritism, jobbery, bribery, and other forms of corruption; and erect, in their places, probity, tolerance, altruism, and devotion; equality of treatment, justice, equity, and fair play to all.'
Fashola stated further : 'For those who still need to be persuaded, I ask further, Why are we not at this occasion celebrating our arrival on the moon?
'I do not know how General Gowon feels inwardly as he continues to lead prayers for Nigeria, but I would not be happy that today's Nigeria is what lives were sacrificed to keep together, if I were him.
'Nevertheless, I personally know that all is not lost. I am an optimist. I am convinced that the problems are man-made, and therefore men and women can and will solve them. I have believed as a child and continue to believe as an adult in the great promise of Nigeria.
'Whether we like it or not, the promise of Nigeria will be fulfilled. What I do not know is when. Whether it will happen in my lifetime or after. It would be nice to experience it. I can visualise it.
'The world's largest collection of black people, blessed in many more ways than one, diverse in human and material resources, and if only it can unite in its purpose and mission. I would love to live that dream. And it is possible. But it must start with us.'
According to Fashola, 'Nigeria has not changed. It is us Nigerians who have changed. As one commentator put it, we have lost our innocence. The assets of Nigeria, in men and material resources, have continued to grow or at least remain undiminished. What has diminished in many vast quantities are our values.'