Gen. Yakubu Gowon

President Muhammadu Buhari has described former military Head of State, retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon as “a gallant patriot whose commitment to national unity is beyond comparison in the annals of our chequered history”.

The president stated this in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Sunday to mark the occasion of Gowon’s 86th birthday.

Buhari said that “the role General Yakubu Gowon played in our political history and infrastructure development is etched in stone and cannot be rewritten.

“As young military officers, many of us regarded General Gowon as our role model because of his patriotism, commitment to unity and his humility.

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“Nigerian civil war brought out the most brilliant qualities of Gen. Gowon as a visionary leader who put the interest of Nigeria before his own personal interest.”

The president noted that the former Head of State led a very impressive national reconciliation effort at the end of the civil war in order to heal the bitter emotional and psychological wounds of the fratricidal conflict.

“General Gowon is one of the fairest leaders I have ever known who has inspired so many future leaders.

“Even in the context of Africa, many leaders in the continent draw inspiration from his adroit handling of the outcome of the civil war through his policy of ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’,” he said.

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According to him, as he marks 86 years of age, Nigerians cannot forget Gowon’s immeasurable contributions to the unity and development of Nigeria.

“May God continue to bless him with more good health and the needed strength in understanding his ongoing spiritual engagements and service to humanity.”