Former Head of State, Retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon has advocated for more tolerance and understanding among Nigerians to put an end to the spate of killings in the country.
Gowon made the remark on Saturday while speaking as the Special Guest of Honour at the Nigeria Military School (NMS) 60th Speech and Prize Giving Day in Zaria, Kaduna State.
He lament that Nigerians were killing one another for no reasons, advising that tolerance, understanding, brotherliness, accommodation and patriotism must be exhibited to restore peace across the country.
“Is it Nigerians that are killing Nigerians? It is of course very painful, I have to raise this for you young boys to know and understand that killing is not good.
“We must remove evil from our own minds to be able to live together as Christians and Muslims, as young boys, you prepare to deal with the situation when the need arise without fear or favour,” he said.
Gowon cited Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Taraba, Zamfara among others as some of the most affected states, advising that people must learn to tolerate one another to live in peace.
The ex-head of state lauded the efforts of the NMS Commandant, Brig-Gen. Muktar Bunza for moulding the boys to simultaneously acquire academics and military training.
He said NMS had remained a path for promoting national unity among Nigerians from different ethno-cultural and religious background.
According to him, the school has tremendously contributed to national growth and development through production of disciplined, patriotic, gallant and humble leaders.
Gowon advised the management to adopt world best practices in training the boys to become professional soldiers.
In his speech, the Chairman of the occasion and Gov. Abdul-Aziz Yari of Zamfara State reminded the NMS students that they were highly privileged to be enrolled into such prestigious school.
Yari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Alhaji Abdullahi Abdul-Karim observed that sound education was the hallmark of success in life.
“Time has come for us to realise the reality that natural resources alone cannot build our nation, rather, it is our human capital, particularly the youth that must be harnessed to achieve meaningful development.
“We should not be surprised that a nation which is rich in natural resources will be struggling for survival if it lacks qualitative manpower.
“The premium placed by the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on national transformation is to train our youths, at tender age, to acquire relevant skills in all spheres of human endeavour,” he said.
The governor charged the students to be respectful, kind, generous and tolerant to people with different views, adding that they should also avoid terrorism, violence and hate speeches towards building a one and indivisible Nigeria.
In his speech, Bunza said the desire of the school has been to redefine its training programmes to fulfill the needs and aspirations of the Nigerian Army.
“NMS is conducting a combined training package comprising of academic and military subjects. The academic programmes are in line with the national policy on secondary education in Nigeria.
“In the same vein, the boys are adequately exposed to the basic military activities to be enlisted into the Nigerian Army as soldiers.
“To this extent, we have been able to ensure that the dreams of the founding fathers are achieved,” he said.
While assuring that the NMS had developed into a national asset, Bunza observed that the tremendous contributions of the school’s ex-boys to national development attested to their quality.
The commandant said the integrity and highest level of discipline displayed by the likes of late Maj-Gen. Tunde Idiagbon affirmed the role NMS had played in human resource development in Nigeria.
Bunza said the 60th Speech and Prize Giving Day had created a platform for those in attendance to benefit from the wealth of experience of a father, elder statesman and symbol of Nigeria’s unity, Retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon.
“The present situation in the country and the effort of the Federal Government in unifying the country calls for the need to bring in a recognised symbol of Nigerian unity to interact with these young and promising Nigerians.
“Sir, let me re-echo your desire to ensure that Nigeria remain one from your independence speech in 1967 where you made it clear that: Nigeria must remain one indivisible country,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that students who distinguished themselves and excelled in different fields were presented with awards.