Former Head of State Gen. Yakubu Gowon yesterday admonished Christians not to retaliate despite killings nationwide.
He warned that to do otherwise would be to risk a religious war. Regardless of the provocation, he said they should rest in the assurance that vengeance belongs to God and endure for the sake of the country.
Gowon spoke yesterday at the Deeper Life Bible Church Headquarters in Lagos during the Special National Prayer Service, convened under the auspices of ‘Nigeria Prays.’
President Muhammadu Buhari was represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina.
Other important persons included Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Okechukwu Enelamah who represented Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; General Superintendent of the Deeper Life Christian Ministry Pastor William Kumuyi; former Nigerian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Dr. Christopher Kolade; Chief Judge of Anambra State Justice Peter Umeadi; Secretary to the Ogun State Government Mr. Taiwo Adeoluwa who represented Governor Ibikunle Amosun ; former Governor of Cross River State Donald Duke; his wife Onari Duke; and Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship aspirant Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
Prayers were offered for issues such as the country’s security, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), national unity, economy, government and the 2019 general elections.
Gowon disclosed that love, tolerance and forgiveness could solve the spate of terrorism and killings across the country. God’s solution is not to be found only in guns, retaliation or physical weapons but in Holy Spirit-led prayer by the Church, amid confession of sins and embracing of righteousness, he said.
“With the general elections looming ahead, it is natural for people to become anxious and fearful of what the future holds for Nigeria in the light of the wanton killings in the land whether these are politically motivated or executed by the dark agents of insurgency, Boko Haram or by armed cattle herdsmen and rustlers.
“Aside from the challenges of politics, there is also the problem of economic hardship that has not only made the poor poorer but also drastically reduced the quality of life of even the rich or politically influential. More than ever before, there is a great need for us as a nation and people to come together and pray and intercede for our dear country.”
Gowon urged the “church and the people of Nigeria to embrace the spirit of love, patriotism and commitment to the good of our nation, irrespective of political party or religious affiliation or tribal difference.”
He noted that as citizens of “this great nation, we all have important roles to play in its development. We must seek to live in peace with all men and deliberately work at achieving reconciliation among our people.”
He added: “We must stave off any semblance of encouraging religious warfare in the guise of defence. And we must continually demand that government be seriously alive to its responsibility of protecting the life and property of all citizens. While government is encouraged to do the needful, people of the faith must be encouraged to win over unnecessarily angry and violent people with the force of love.”
Buhari urged Nigerians to be united in prayers for the unity and peaceful co-existence of the country and the success of the elections. He also gave assurance of his government’s readiness to conduct a credible and peaceful election.
He said: “I hosted Pastor Kumuyi last month during another prayer session organised for the nation and minced no words in describing him as a man of dignity who has love for our country and I pray that your love would continue to yield positive results for this nation.”
In his message, ‘Divine assurance when Nigeria prays’, Kumuyi noted that there is hope for the country, if Nigerians repent and seek the face of God.