Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd) Sunday at the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Olive Tree parish, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos led several Christian leaders to intercede for Nigeria and its leadership with particular reference to the South West geo-political zone of the nation.
The initiator of Nigeria Prays, led the Vice President, Lagos State governor, RCCG General Overseer as well as the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Lukman who were represented, Lagos State CAN executive members and other denominational leaders to pray specialised prayers beginning with confessions and repentance of national sins, national thanksgiving, prayer of renunciation and redemption.
Dressed in white Agbada, Gen. Gowon commended Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for making his parish available for the intercession, noting “we assemble here humbly kneeling and standing, with praise and worship before our Lord God to pray for Nigeria, for our leadership at all levels, from the president to the governors to chairmen of local governments, traditional leaders throughout the country, and the good people of Nigeria.”
According to him, God has been faithful and has kept the nation in one peace in answer to fervent prayers of both Christians and Muslims in the country.
“You just take a look at all the problems in Nigeria over time, challenges that take Nigeria almost to the brink because of what we are doing to ourselves politically, socially, economically etc. But then at every stage, somehow we come out of the brink and are able to re-organize ourselves and move forward.
“You look at, for example, the old crisis we had in 1964-1965, after the crisis, the military coup in Nigeria in 1966, and thereafter all the problems we had, including the Civil War. It was not done as a war against any group of people or Nigerians. Despite the civil war that nearly broke the country. At the end of it, we were able to reconcile because of the spirit of give and take from both sides,” the war time Head of State explained.
Continuing, he noted that “if the other party (Igbos) did not accept our offer, it would have been difficult, and also my promise to be sure that we achieve that peace; this is what all Nigerians should be proud of. We were able to rebuild Nigeria to what it should be.
“If you remember the last election, all the things reported and published, I was afraid, not forgetting that prophecy that Nigeria would break in 2015. Until that election when Nigeria really surprised the world because many people pleaded with Nigeria to have a peaceful election so that everyone can move forward.
“That election was tremendously successful and I’m proud of my brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Before the final announcement of the result, President Goodluck Jonathan accepted defeat. If he had rejected the result and gone to the tribunal, what would have happened to Nigeria?
“President Muhammadu Buhari graciously accepted that conceding of defeat by the president. There was a relief throughout the country. How did we achieve that? It was a lot of prayers,” Gen. Gowon acknowledged.
According to him, “in answer to prayers of all Nigerians, Christians and Muslims, God touched the hearts of every Nigerian to do the right thing and we got it right at the end,” adding that the 1999 transition from the military to civilian administration was another evidence of God’s intervention in the nation’s affairs.
“Prayers that were said by all faithful at that time, God answered our prayers. And we had the change we wanted. God answers your prayers not when you want it but when He thinks it is right,” he noted.
Asked why prayers have not broken the circle of corruption in the country, he latched at the media, saying “it is up to you. If you can fight within yourself not to accept corruption, gradually we will get there. One thing I know is that you can never totally remove corruption anywhere in the world, but you can minimize it.”
According to the former Head of State, Nigeria’s most challenging problem today is that of Boko Haram which is very complicating, arguing that even “the Muslims do not agree that Boko Haram is Islamic and they condemn it very truly. So this is one of the most serious problems.
“Let us as Nigerians try to eschew all forms of violence and criminal acts. Let us also value the lives of our fellow human beings. We have no right, as human beings, to take any life that God has created. Let us pray to God to instill on us the virtues of righteousness in dealing with one another especially the disadvantaged in our society,” he said.
Vice President Osinbajo represented by Pastor Bamidele Olurin averred that the problem of Nigeria is leadership, and urged all Nigerians to key into the Nigeria Prays vision and relentlessly pray for the nation and its leaders to always do right things which is the panacea to national development.
Echoing similar sentiments, the Lagos State Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Culture, Mrs. Grace Oladimeji who represented Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode, also harped on the need for Nigerians especially Christians to endeavour to the right things all the time.