President Goodluck Jonathan and former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, on Sunday urged Nigerians to show love, respect and tolerance for one another, adding that they should not to lose hope in the country but work together to sustain the peace and unity of the nation.
Speaking at the inter-denominational church service to commemorate Nigeria’s centenary Sunday in Abuja, the President noted that the nation’s strength lies in her diversity while her hope lies in her unity and appealed to Nigerians to show love, tolerance and respect for one another.
“We need a united Nigeria and must love one another irrespective of our ethnic and religious differences. We need tolerance, love and peace. We will overcome all the challenges facing us as a nation. “I see a Nigeria filled with hopes, determination and better future,” he said.
President Jonathan said Nigerians have reason to celebrate the nation’s centenary considering God’s faithfulness to Nigeria in the past 100 years in spite of all challenges.
“We have our challenges but we have more opportunities in this country, as other developed societies have passed through more difficult challenges. I have a great hope for this country in spite of all our challenges and I believe we will surmount them all”, he added.
Similarly in his speech, Gowon called on Nigerians to keep faith in Nigeria in every facet and work towards the sustenance of the oneness and unity of the country.
He noted that through the grace of God and support of Nigerians, he was able to lead Nigeria at the most difficult time when the country was threatened by cessation, adding that many people had laid down their lives to keep Nigeria one.
Gowon, who observed that it was a difficult thing fighting with our brothers to keep Nigeria one, stated that Nigerian/Biafran war ended with a reconciliation that was second to none and embraced one another as well as decided to Go On With One Nigeria (GOWON).
“During the war, Nigerians asked if I know the meaning of GOWON, they said it means “Go On With One Nigeria” and I said I cannot achieve this without their support. I asked for the support of Nigerians and promised to do my best to keep Nigeria one and that was what I did,” he said.
In his sermon, the former Prelate of Methodist Church, His Eminence, Ola Makinde, proclaimed that the amalgamation of Nigeria by Lord Frederick Lugard in 1914 was not a mistake even though it was done for economic and administrative reasons due to the abundant resources in Nigeria.
They brought multi-ethnic and multi-religious groups to be together.
He warned politicians not to allow the prediction that Nigeria would disintegrate by 2015 to come to pass by allowing a free and fair election in 2015.
“Politicians should not break Nigeria but rather, build it. Politicians should shun killings, thuggery and rigging. Politicians should not allow the prediction that Nigeria would disintegrate by 2015 to come to pass by allowing free and fair elections in 2015”.
He commended the foresight of President Jonathan in proposing the national conference, describing it as the best thing that ever happened to Nigeria in the past 100years.
Makinde, however, advised the President not to abuse Nigerians’ acceptance of the conference but ensure that the outcomes are implemented.
Present at the service were Senate President David Mark, former Head of Interim Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan, former Secretary-General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, and the Service Chiefs, among others.