Sunday, October 19, 2014

Photos: President Jonathan celebrates General Yakubu Gowon at 80

Remarks by

His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR

At the

Banquet Dinner in Honour of Gen. Yakubu Gowon GCFR, on his 80th Birthday Anniversary International Conference Centre, Abuja

Saturday 18 October, 2014

1. Our gathering this beautiful evening for dinner, is in honour of our amiable mentor and father, former Head of state and very much loved elder statesman, General Yakubu Gowon, GCFR. This dinner is part of a series of events lined up to mark the 80 Birthday anniversary celebration of this distinguished soldier and gentleman, who has served our country meritoriously in various capacities, at the highest levels.

2. Today's event is especially significant to me, and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians, who love and admire this great man. And this dinner affords us the unique opportunity to jointly appreciate the essence of one man, who set a historic standard for a new Nigeria.

3. The well-known slogan " Go-On With One Nigeria ", which also depicts the alphabets of his name, was no doubt more a divine charge, of the task, with which he was burdened, than a mere coincidence of verse.

4. I have no doubt that today's occasion will also afford us the opportunity to reminiscence on old times, savouring the sweet memories of the past, while exchanging joyful optimism for the future.

5. Through his career in his chosen and beloved military profession, the General's favourite tune has been "Old Calabar", as ever reliably rendered by the Nigerian Army band. Each time the band delivers this tune, the General defies all odds, to rise and engage in a quick march. This is the true spirit of a dedicated soldier.

6. He is as humble as he is amiable, and a true patriot of no dilution. While at the Warwick University, he was known to be prompt in queue, to obtain his student requirements. As a gentleman in every true sense, he has been an apostle of peace and peaceful co-existence.

7. This large turnout of distinguished guests from all walks of life, all out to share this moment of joy with General Gowon, is a testimony to the pride of place he occupies in the hearts of many and in the society in general.

8. He is always available to proffer invaluable advice and wise counsel, in matters affecting our country, whenever the need arises. Indeed, His service to the nation and to humanity at large, has been legendary.

9. As Head of State, he presided over Nigeria at one of her most trying moments. And in magnanimity and wisdom, afterwards, he accelerated reconciliation, and initiated reconstruction. He was a soldiers' soldier.

10. General Gowon has never relented. Long after office, he has continued with his good works, to the nation and to humanity. The Yakubu Gowon Centre, his Civil Society and Charity Organisation, has been at the vanguard of promoting integration, peace and unity, in the country, as well as providing support in the areas of disease control and reduction in Africa.

11. Our dear General, today as always, the Nation thanks God Almighty for his gift of your life, your leadership, and your citizenship. We are grateful to you for your example of dedication, of service and of simplicity. And we pray that God Almighty will continue to bless you and your family, with long life and good health, so that you will continue to offer invaluable services to the nation, and to humanity.

12. Thank you and may God bless our country.

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