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Nigeria will survive despite daunting challenges – Gowon
by RAZAQ AYINLA
July 13, 2014 | 5:16 pm| | | Start Conversation
Yakubu Gowon, former head of state, has declared that Nigeria would not disintegrate but survive despite all the daunting challenges that currently threatening its continued existence, affirming that the threats “will not consume the country”.
The elder statesman, who spoke at the 17th Wole Soyinka Annual Lecture held at the June 12 Cultural Centre in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, disclosed that time had come for the younger generation to chart a better course for the country’s development.
Speaking on the theme: ‘This house must not fall: Re-negotiating Nigeria’s social contract after 100 years of nationhood’, organised by the National Association of Seadogs as part of events marking the Nobel Laureate’s 80th birthday, Gowon believed that Nigeria would soon wriggle out of its problems.
Gowon said that as a soldier, he believed in democracy, describing himself as a democrat.
He said though, the populace wanted a perfect condition, which according to him, was not possible, the retired general however, admitted that Nigerians should do away with the attitude of seeking external solution to local challenges.
He said: “Every nation has a problem, even the advanced countries. I am optimistic that things will take shape in this country. 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.
“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.”
He thereafter, cautioned the politicians to avoid the culture of stopping whatever good projects and programmes initiated by their predecessors, warning that such could pull the nation down.
In the same vein, Oby Ezekwesili, a former vice-president of the World Bank for Africa, who spoke extensively on Nigeria’s nationhood, said there was “need for the people to renegotiate a new social contract where good governance, rule of law and socio-economic development would be the order of the day”.
She requested Nigerians to become more pro-active in the democratic structure and should be ready to pay any price thereof, asking them to strive for “A new social contract where rule of law will be the foundation of the society; a Nigeria where production is preferred to consumption; a new social contract where economic growth translates to economic development of the country”.
The former Education minister lamented that the scourge of corruption had aggravated the poverty level and had widened the gap between the haves and have-nots, saying it was high time Nigerians should re-negotiate Nigeria’s social contract.
“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.
Unfortunately, we don’t have sufficient time to demand a renegotiation of the social structure”, she stated.
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