Former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, (rtd.), on Thursday in Lagos, charged youths to shun violence and be advocates of peace and nation building.
Gowon gave the charge at the National Peace Summit and Awards 2022 with the theme, “The Mechanism of Sacrifices and Compromise in Nation Building and Pursuit of Peace for an Emerging New Nigeria.”
Gowon, who attended the event virtually, urged Nigerian youths to rise up to the challenges of nation building and channel their energy positively.
“In spite of the distraction, I want to urge Nigerian youths to stay courageous. Violence has never solved any problem; channel your energy to things that are productive.
“Whatever talent you have; be it in health, technology, entrepreneurship and so on and so forth, stay dedicated and do what you can as youths to give back to the nation. By so doing you’d be building the nation.”
Gowon also called on government to create an enabling environment for youths, saying, “in a society where majority are youths, I believe it is important that government has plans for them by having an enabling environment and put in place policies that will keep them engaged.
“I believe that we all have a role to play as leaders, our youths should work as a unit with government; violence doesnt solve anything, rather, be ambassadors of peace wherever you are.”
Samuel Uche, the Prelate of Methodists Church, Nigeria, urged Nigerians to be tolerant of one another, especially with people of different religious beliefs.
“For us in Nigeria, nation building is a multifaceted idea, involving the dynamic participation of Nigerian citizens and residents based on strong connections linked with peace, love and understanding.
“I lived in the North for 10 years, most of my domestic staff were Muslims and Hausas, they have where they pray in my compound, when is time for Salah, I give them money.
“And they protected my interest all through my stay there, even if you come to my quarters in Yaba you will see them living with me, we should practice what we preach, live in peace and love like Jesus Christ,” he said.
Prof. Chris Nwanne, Chaplain General, Divine Institute of Chaplaincy Corps International, said the time had come for everyone to play an active role in nation building.
“Nothing good comes out of a chaotic environment, peace is vital with 2023 in view; we should encourage our youths so they can do better.
“Some people get rich in chaos, some institutions gain massively when there’s no peace. We need to work together to make sure these evil people don’t win,” he said.
The founder of African Youths Initiative on Crime and Prevention, noted that it was necessary to get youths involved in nation building in order to pursue their agenda in nation building.
“Nigerian youths have been marginalised, and it’s sad to watch, if we continue to ignore the youth, we are sitting on time bomb.
“Nigerian youths don’t need so much from the government, just create an enabling environment and we will do wonders; we as youths have so much to give, and we know the importance of peace.
“We need to change our image internationally as youths, and as government, we all have a role to play,” he said.
Solomon Adodo, the President National Youths Council of Nigeria, also called on government to toe the path of peace in governance.
“Leaders write your names in gold, he who doesn’t want peace must prepare for war, we can build a peaceful Nigeria.
“We need to move from words to action and from action to results, we can’t continue to downplay how the Nigerian society is stifling the youth.
“Be genuine with your support for the youth and I bet you our country will be better for it,” he said.
Sanni Dammauttaka, Chairman Northern Nigeria Youths Organisation, said nation building involved all and sundry for a better Nigeria.
“All my life I have lived in Lagos, so have my parents and I am raising my children here too, I am a Nigerian irrespective of my other affiliation.
“With our collective support, there’s nothing we can’t achieve,” he said.
Chief Mrs Aduni Udu, one of the awardee’s called on the youth to take their rightful place in the society and go all out to prove their mettle.
“During the ‘End Sars’ protest, I saw a set of Nigerian youths I didn’t know existed and they meant well, this has shown that our youths can be tools for change.
“As a mother we will support you, women and youths have no place in the current dispensation, but we have to fight to be heard and contribute our quota,” she said.
Apostle Chuks Alozie, the National Coordinator of National Peace Summit and Awards, applauded all the speakers at the event for their passion for a better Nigeria.
“It has been a wonderful experience to have listened to people with so much intellect and I hope that our leaders pay attention to all of our demands,” he said.