The elder statesman, who was represented at the occasion, emphasised that despite the end of civil war 50 years ago, it still remained a reference point in the country’s political discourse.
He noted that the war posed the greatest threat to the territorial integrity and unity of Nigeria and its promising multi-ethnic federation.
He, however, said that as responsible leaders and citizens, it was pertinent to create enabling platforms for dialogue and proffer ideas on how the country’s citizens could live together in peace and harmony, stressing that Nigeria could not afford another civil war.
Gowon declared that it was only in a peaceful environment that Nigeria could witness stability in its politics, economy, security, and development in all spheres, calling on Nigerians to ensure the country averted another civil war.
He added: “Our commitment to Nigeria must be total and patriotic. To me, our Nigeria of today of over 500 ethnic groups of diverse socio-cultural and religious colourations and spread across 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is worthy of your support and defence.”
Also speaking at the event, senator Banji Akintoye, co-chairman of the event, feared that recent happenings in the country might reignite another civil war if not nipped in the bud.
Akintoye said that the current mood among Nigerians was similar to that of 1966 when the war broke out, stressing that the nation’s affairs were being unfairly managed by a section of the country.
“There seems to be an agenda being pursued to establish this minority in all positions of command in the executive, administrative, judicial, and security services of our country.
“These situations are inevitably fostering, among the peoples of the Middle Belt and South of our country, the feeling that they are being reduced to the status of conquered people in Nigeria,” he stated.