A former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd) has said that a former speaker of House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba and Senate president Pius Anyim were begged not to impeach a former president Olusegun Obasanjo in order to sustain democracy in the country and save his successors from suffering same fate.
Gowon spoke at the inaugural public lecture, tagged: “Nation Building or Nation Fragmentation: Reflection on 20 years of Post- Military Rule in Nigeria” in honour of late Major General Emmanuel Olumuyiwa Abisoye, organised by Major General Emmanuel Olumuyiwa Abisoye Foundation in partnership with University of Abuja on Saturday.
He noted the role he and General Abdulsalami Abubakar, ex-President Ernest Shonakon, among many other eminent Nigerians played in ensuring Obasanjo completed his tenure.
“If the action of the legislature, which was to embarrass Chief Obasanjo was allowed to be implemented, those who succeeded him would have faced similar fate,” he said.
Gowon, who is the chairman of the occasion where Na’Abbah is also a guest, said: “I can see Alhaji Ghali Na’Abbah here and I can assure you we had some very important discussions and I know that we had to appeal to him and the President of the Senate not to impeach Obasanjo and of course, because of the respect they had for us, they listened to us.”
He said: “If we had allowed them impeach the president at that time of our democracy, no president in Nigeria would escape being harrassed. So, I thank you very much for listening to us.”
Gowon described late Major General Emmanuel Abisoye as a fine military officer who gave his all in the service to his country, saying the event was a celebration of “honour and patriotism.”
“As young as we were then, our ideals were not self-seeking. Rather, they were focused on the growth and development of a strong, stable, viable indivisible and indissoluble nation,” he said.
The Guest Lecturer, Prof Ibrahim A. Gambari said after 20 years of post-military rule, there had been renewed agitations across the country, saying the issue of various agitations in Nigeria points to the fact that all was not well.
Speaking on nation’s building, he said: “Nations don’t just happen by historical accident, rather they are built by men and women with vision and resolve. Nation building is therefore, the product of conscious statecraft, not happenstance.”