Few days ago, prominent and other Nigerians joined Yakubu Gowon, the retired general and a former head of state in Nigeria in celebrating his 85th birthday anniversary.
Gowon who presided over the Nigerian Civil war that lasted from 1967 to 1970 was overthrown by the late General Murtala Mohammed in 1975.
President Muhammadu Buhari described Gowon as a living legend and a symbol of national unity.
As Nigeria’s youngest leader since Independence, President Buhari affirmed that Gen. Gowon’s visionary leadership style, wisdom and disciplined outlook kept the country as one, extolling the former Head of State for faith and steadfastness in God in times of adversity, and courageously pursuing the interest of majority Nigerians for a unified and stronger country.
The President believed the elder statesman laid a solid foundation for the country to thrive, with the creation of federating units, and implementation of futuristic policies like the National Youths Service Corps, that has consistently served the purpose of fostering unity, harmony and expanding the horizons of young Nigerians for lifetime opportunities.
Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the ex-Nigeria’s President, via his Facebook page, on Saturday wrote “I rejoice with you and all well-wishers as you mark your 85th birthday.
“You are a courageous leader who served Nigeria with honour, pride and love, especially at a difficult time in the life of our nation.
“Long after you left office, your passion and patriotism have remained undiminished, as you have continued to work and fervently pray for our country’s growth and development.
“As a statesman, you have remained resolutely committed to the peace and unity of Nigeria.
“On behalf of my family, I wish you more strength and peaceful years as you celebrate”.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, described a former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), as a symbol of national unity.
Gbajabiamila, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, said it is to the credit of Gowon that the National Youth Service Corps, “which brings Nigerians together,” came to be in 1973.
He said, “On this day, I join millions of Nigerians, and friends of Nigeria, to celebrate this icon and symbol of national unity as he marks 85 years on earth. In the years since he retired from active service, Gen Gowon has worked across the country to see to the establishment of peace and abiding prosperity and it is this work that will long be remembered as his greatest legacy.
“Nigerians will not forget in a hurry that the NYSC, which worked to bring Nigerians together at a critical time in our history, is the brainchild of this great Nigerian. Indeed, the history of our country will not be complete without a mention of Gowon.
“On this occasion of his 85th birthday, I join fellow Nigerians in offering special prayers to Allah to grant Gen. Gowon continuous good health, protection and guidance.”
However, Femi Fani-Kayode tweeted “When the real history of the country is written the role of Gowon and the other Nigerian commanders during the civil war will be put in proper perspective. The slaughter of 3 million Biafran civilians in that war is the greatest act of black on black genocide in human history…”
Fani-Kayode, a one-time minister of Aviation rebuffed “I cannot celebrate the birth of a man who presided over such carnage and neither can I describe him as a hero. Nigeria cannot make much progress or truly prosper until she apologises to the Igbo and Biafrans for the great evil that we visited upon them during the civil war.”