Place Your Comfort Below That Of Public, Gowon Tells Northern Leaders


BY AMOS TAUNA, ABUJA – Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has challenged the leadership in the country not to place their comfort at the expense of service to the people, but put their interest below those of the public.
Speaking in Kaduna on Tuesday through Alhaji Adamu Fika, the Wazirin Fika, at the Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation on, ‘Agenda Setting Summit for the Security and Development of Northern Nigeria,’ General Gowon said, “The promotion of unity in diversity and tolerance and respect for each other should be actively promoted to curtail ethno-religious frictions. Leaders’ commitment to security and development must be unshakeable.
“Northern States should have a distinctive development agenda and development plans which are specific on poverty eradication, education, economic and industrial development and agriculture. There must be an Industrial and Economic Survey preceding the plans so that the development agenda is need-based and achievable within the time bounds chosen. There is ample record of previous development plans in Nigeria including the Northern Region plans and implementation plans that can be used to understand the development needs and challenges of the area.
“For an effective resource management, Northern States should explore cluster development option for industrial, agro-allied and service activities they have comparative advantage in while aggressively seeking partnership with the private sector to join in the investment drive.
“Northern States governors should formalise their meeting and pursue resolutions more firmly and with commitment. Issues like education, out of school children, poverty and security are better taken on collectively.
“We had the historical antecedent that we could fall back on to guide the present day leaders to once again move the North and, indeed Nigeria forward.
“Leadership must be about serving the people; it should be focused and forward looking. Economic woos are intricately linked to insecurity and the two must be dealt with together.”
President Muhammadu Buhari noted that Nigerians were tasked with the important duty of both upholding the legacy of those who have passed and creating a legacy for the future. “What is called for is to responsibly enter the context of vision which the Sardauna and his peers possessed as opposed to upholding that vision as unassailable and situating ourselves as lesser descendants of great fathers. It is only by this, and consequently surpassing the achievements of that crop of leaders, that we can truly and correctly honour them,” he observed.
Represented by the minister of interior, Lt. General Abdulrahmam Dambazau, President Muhammadu Buhari said the period in which Sardauna lived was one saddled with the fostering of a national identity from disparate groups within the Nigerian federation.
“We must imagine these regions as federations within a federation and that the inevitable rivalries of the period were positive rivalries and not exclusive ones.
“The period was rather a mix of various ideas, necessary for healthy debate in a complex socio-cultural space, and the actions of these leaders whom we revere were always done from a complementary national praxis. In my opinion, often in our rush to memorialize these great men and the period they lived in, we have failed to note and internalize why they were great.
“The herders-sedentary farmers’ conflict is very rife with us, even though it also has a regional dimension. This is one serious matter that affects most concerned persons in this forum, next to the collateral kidnapping for ransom and problems associated to it.
“I recommend to all in the spirit of unity under the rule of law and constitutionality which is my resolve and conviction as the only path to taking Nigeria and her people to the deserving status of a strong democracy, for which her citizens will be proud and envied by the world community,” he explained.
The chairman, Northern States Governors Forum and governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said, “Coexistence is easily entrenched when the majority displays magnanimity to the minority. The North has majority Muslims and the majority must work to create an atmosphere where a Northern Muslim in Borno or Kano accept and cherish a Christian from Benue State occupying a National office and embracing him or her as eminently representing all Northern be they Christians or Muslims.”

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