By McPhilips Nwachukwu
As the nation prepares to celebrate her 50th year anniversary this weekend, former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), Tuesday in Abuja charged Nigerians to ensure that the 2011 general elections are conducted in a free, fair, peaceful and orderly manner.
Gen. Gowon made the call at the NICON Luxury Hotel, Abuja, venue of the National Gallery of Arts, NGA, golden anniversary exhibition entitled: The March of History; Evolution of the Nigerian Nation: Trials and Triumphs, being organised in honour of the nation’s 50 years journey to adulthood.
According to Gowon, who led the federal side in the thirty months civil war of unity between Nigeria and the seccessionist Biafra, said: “it is only through a very orderly election conducted according to rules of the game that the continued peace and unity of the country can be gauranteed.
“Let us ensure the coming elections in the few months are free and fair, peaceful and orderly.”
“Jettison all and any divisive tendencies, any negative utterances and religious bigotry in our politics and elections.” He said.
Continuing, he further charged that “Let patriotism, love of country and one another be our watch word. This nation has come a long way and deserves a peaceful election. It is my fervent hope and prayer that those responsible for conducting the elections in 2011 will endeavour to live and act above board.”
The former military leader, apparently in a tacit response to the feeling of fears being expressed by certain groups of Nigerians over the capability of the Jega led electoral body in deliverying a credible election come 2011 said that “Our expectation is that the electoral umpire, INEC must ensure that all eligible voters are registered and are able to vote.
Ensure that all elligible votes are counted and that their votes count. The people must be patriotic and take ownership of their votes and ensure free and fair elections. The love of our country must always be paramount in our mind.”