Yakubu Gowon 1

Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd), has cautioned Federal Government and security agencies against applying excessive force against ethnic agitators and restive youths, The Sun newspaper reports.

Gowon, who was delivering a keynote address at the national seminar on "Unity in diversity" organised by the Department of State Services (DSS), also advised nationalities agitating for restructuring or outright secession to avoid the mistake of the past, which plunged the country into a three-year civil war.

He warned that no nation has ever survived multiple wars in its lifetime.

Notwithstanding the advice, the DSS vowed to deal with any group or individuals pursuing divisive and separatist activities that threaten national security.

According to the Director General of the Service (DGSS), Laval Daura, the agency would not fold its arms and watch agitators tear the country apart.

"I would like to restate the position of the Service that all groups or individuals who are bent on pursuing their divisive and separatist activities that threaten national security, to think again.

"The security and law enforcement agencies will not sit by idly while they continue on 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.

While Gowon, who was the chairman of the ceremony lamented that the various agitations were scaring foreign investors from coming to Nigeria, he, however, commended the Northern Youth Forum for backing down on the October 1 ultimatum to Igbo to leave the region.

He noted further that the various political agitations and multiplicity of calls for regional autonomy and clamour for restructuring of the federation or outright secession of certain region from the country had given birth to emergency nationalist agitators.

"This call is not in the interest of democracy which recognises the right of individuals on issues....My view is that all Nigerians and people should love their country. Rather than needlessly heat up the polity and scare international investors, agitators need to pause and ponder on the implications of a strategy of threatening the country.

"We need to think of the danger our actions poses to the innocent and law abiding citizens. Agitators or whatever name they go by, need to read up history that no nation survives multiple civil wars. The life of the people is worth more than whatever profit they hope to make out of the business of hate and sheer murmuring.

"Agitators are better off not pursuing personal interest just as the Federal Government will do well not to use any force on these agitators except only as the last resort for and in defence of security and the peace of the nation."

He lauded the DSS for championing the course of the dialogue on how best to preserve the unity of the country.

"I want to say that the service has done exceptionally well. Your operations have made it possible over the years to nip in the bud several acts or provocations that otherwise would have led to deeper crisis in the country. Let me reiterate that Nigeria as a nation is stronger together than chip off the block.

"There is unity and strength in our diversity and we should be accommodated in unity not by force but more so by reason. We must believe in the indivisibility of this country as citizens. East or west, north or south, we are one. We must believe in one
Nigeria in order to make it good and better for all," he said.

He specifically charged Nigerian youths to ensure that that the nation's unity was not jeopardized. "Let me use this opportunity to advice Nigerian youths that the unity of this country must prevail above some of the hard talks and uncomplimentary remarks coming from them.

"I urge the youths not to allow the situation that happened in the past to happen again. They should avoid anything that will bring the suffering of innocent people because of unnecessary demands.

"Don't forget that you are the future of this country. You must work together to ensure you build a country that all of us would like to see," he noted.

Speaking earlier, DSS boss, Daura, noted that centrifugal forces have been at work in our great nation, trying their utmost to pull the nation apart.

"They have vainly leveraged on our ethnic, geographical and religious cleavages (the key factors that constitute our very rich tapestry of cultural treasure and diversity) to ignite hate speeches and stoke ethnic cum religious tensions, nationwide.

"Sundry youth groups and individuals (with diverse subversive agendas) have latched unto this latest manifestation of ethno-religious divisions to afflict the national stage and consciousness with their atavistic and retrogressive utterances as well as infantile threats."

He remarked that hate utterances and threats have spawned considerable anxiety among law-abiding and ordinary citizens residing in different parts of the country.

"It is noteworthy that numerous well-meaning Nigerians of all religious and ethnic backgrounds have weighed-in with positive messaging to assuage the resultant anxieties of the activities of these divisive groups.

"This notwithstanding, and given the high toxicity of ethnic and religious evocations, the security sector has remained sufficiently concerned with a view to evolving and developing adequate countermeasures to deal with these threats.

"The acting president has valiantly led the charge to put the naysayers to shame and to reassure Nigerians of their safety everywhere. He has also sought to reassure Nigerians of the infinite possibilities of Project Nigeria and the imperative for all Nigerians to keep faith with the nation and in the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari's administration to deliver on its socio-economic programmes."

However, Daura identified bad governance and graft as major triggers of the ethnic agitations.

"These governance failures have been amply implicated in the massive unemployment and very poor socio-economic conditions across the land, which feeds and spread frustrations, anger and agitations, nationwide.

"There is no gainsaying the fact that if we get governance right, we will have more salutary outcomes in terms of security and other contemporary challenges."

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  • Date: Aug 04, 2017

why is every one talking about civil war as if it is not clear that if anyone wants to leave the country they can do that freely so why the talk about war and if so is Nigeria going to war to enslave biafra or any other talking about leaving the country or is it to reunite the country?