By Emmanuel Oloniruha
Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, rtd, has advised Nigerian youths to avoid anything that threaten the sovereignty and unity of the country.
Gowon gave the advice at a national security seminar on “Unity in Diversity: Security and National Development”, organised by the Department of State Service (DSS) in Abuja.
The former Head of state who prosecuted the civil war from 1967 to 1970 to keep Nigeria one, urged the youths not to allow a situation where Nigerians would fight one another.
The civil war was caused by the secession of Eastern Nigerian and declared Biafra as a country.
“You are the future of this country. In all that you do, ensure that we build the country in the interest of all.
“Ensure that you do better than what we have done for you. This is my plea to you,’’ he told youths.
On the calls for restructuring or secession by different groups and sections in the country, Gowon advised the agitators to be mindful of the rights of others.
He condemned situations where certain individuals and interest groups hide under the freedom of speech and association guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution to cause threat to the unity and sovereignty of the country.
“My view and call is that all Nigerians should like their country, right or wrong, but yet demand a change for good and better’’
On his part, the Director-General of DSS, Mr Lawal Daura, advised all groups and individuals bent on pursuing their divisive and separatist activities that threaten national security, to have a rethink.
Daura said that security and law enforcement agencies would not sit by while separatist elements continued with their activities that put at risk the lives and properties of law-abiding and innocent Nigerians.
“We will deploy the full amalgam of the security infrastructure to deal with subsisting and emerging developments capable of endangering lives and properties as well as our corporate existence as a nation.
“Globally, the security agencies form the core of institutions that give backbone to statehood.
“Consequently, every activity that represents an existential threat to the nation is a direct challenge to the security agencies which must be responded to.
“The security sector views the unity of this nation as a sacred trust and this task we will do our utmost to meet,” he said.
Daura said that the seminar presented an opportunity to explore diverse perspectives on national challenges with a view to gaining deeper insights and understanding of same.
“It is hoped that we will identify our strengths and amplify them while evolving viable options to cure our weaknesses,’’ he said.
Aside past leaders, including former President Goodluk Jonathan who have been prevailing on the youths to stop secession agitation, southerh leaders have also jined the call for unity.
A coalition of inter-ethnic group under the aegis of ‘The Yiiegba Charter’, led by elder statesmen from the southern part of the country, met to lend their voices for a peaceful and united Nigeria. (NAN)