“No matter what happens, I am confident that this nation will not fall.”
A former military Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, has advised Nigerians not to expect a perfect country without problems.
Mr. Gowon said despite Nigeria’s various problems, the country would not collapse.
“Every nation has a problem, even the advanced countries. I am optimistic that thing will take shape in this country,” the retired general said.
“The major problem that we have today is that people want a perfect Nigeria of their own making. But we need to understand, learn and respect each other’s’ point of view.
“No matter what happens, I am confident that this nation will not fall. I have a great belief and faith that the younger ones will do it better,” he added.
Mr. Gowon stated these on Saturday at the 17th Wole Soyinka Annual Lecture held at the June 12 Cultural Centre in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
The lecture, themed, “This house must not fall; Renegotiating Nigeria’s social contract after 100 years of nationhood”, was organized by the National Association of Seadogs (Pirates Confraternity) as part of events marking the Nobel Laureate’s 80th birthday.
The former Nigerian leader advised the federal government to do away with the attitude of seeking external solution to local challenges. He also cautioned politicians to avoid the culture of discontinuing projects initiated by their predecessors, warning that such could pull the nation down.
In her own lecture, a former Vice-President of the World Bank, Oby Ezekwesili, said there was need for Nigerians to renegotiate a new social contract by demanding for good governance and rule of law. She enjoined Nigerians to become more conscious and proactive in the democratic structure and to be ready to pay any sacrifice thereof.
“The willingness to come to the table and negotiate the social contract is depended on the fact that even the rich cannot sleep because they know that the poor are awake,” Ms. Ezekwesili said, “Unfortunately, we don’t have sufficient time to demand for a renegotiation of the social structure.”
In his speech, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Mathew Kukah, described Mr. Soyinka as a genius. He said the Noble Laureate could be described as a ‘secular prophet’, and remained one of the greatest human beings from Africa.
The clergyman challenged the Association of Nigerian Authors to publish works of great literary icons like Soyinka into as many languages as possible.