As Nigeria marks her 57th Independence anniversary, former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), has urged all Nigerians to always embrace peace and dialogue as they are antidotes for conflict resolution.
He said even though the nation is bedeviled with senseless agitations and conflicts, there was need for careful appraisal of our journey to nationhood.
Also in his independence message, Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, called on Nigerians to fire up the spirit of patriotism that propelled our founding fathers in our quest to build a united, indivisible and prosperous nation.
Babangida said: “The resilience of armed forces of Nigeria to curtailed secessionists agitation throughout our nation’s post independence era has reduced tensions and unnecessary destruction of Lives and property. Dialogue remains the best option in resolving conflicts and agitations in the country, adding that recent conflicts and agitations, chanting slogan of war and hate speeches are derailing the nation’s development and unity.
“As an active participant in the Civil War and as a retired military officer, with the hard lesson learnt, I will never be tired on calling for the oneness and unity of our great nation. We will forever be ready to sacrifice for a United and prosperous Nigeria when call again.
“During our tenure in government we deliberately formulated policies, programmes, projects and even the creation of states to further weaken unwholesome agitations for secession and promote mutual and peaceful coexistence devoid of ethnic, religious and regional discrimination.”
He said government at all levels should continue to encourage mutual tolerance and protect the life of every Nigerian who should feel at home anywhere they find themselves in the country.
The ex-President also urged Nigerians to pray and work towards peace and progress of the nation. He advised those beating war drums through hates speeches to sheathe their swords and support the government in addressing security and economic challenges.
He said: “We should support the government in addressing the security and Economic challenges as I urge Nigerians to extend their gestures with a hand of fellowship to one another and assists those affected by natural disasters, conflicts and communal clashes that are presently confined at Internally Displaced Camps (IDP’s).
Meanwhile, Governor Bello noted that, “we need to take it ( our commitment) beyond our hero’s past to reflect on the gains and lessons learnt over the years to take charge and face the challenges of our time.
“The tributes we pay to our fallen and living heroes must not end alone on our lips as we sing the National anthem, but must be evident in our character of selflessness and sense of responsibility that characterized the lives of our heroes”.
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