By Anozie Egole
LAGOS—Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has advised the Federal Government to always dialogue with aggrieved regions to ensure equity and unity in the country.
Gowon, who said this during the week in Lagos at the premier of Oloibiri, a movie, also pointed out that people of Oloibiri community in Bayelsa state have not been treated fairly by the government.
Speaking at the event, the elder statesman who was accompanied by the former Secretary General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, said: “Clearly, Oloibiri community has not been treated fairly. The people deserve our sympathy, consideration and collective resolve to develop and restore the beauty of this once vibrant community. I have no doubt that the bitterness and anger of many sons and daughters of the community and other similar communities have affected in one way or the other, the nation’s inability to harvest to the fullest the benefits of this God given resources.
”I will therefore like to sincerely congratulate the producers of this movie, Oloibiri, for producing such a world class masterpiece of creative excellence.
The message is deep, the content is rich even though very bloody and the technical quality is very high. The film has greatly succeeded in projecting the unacceptable deprivation of Oloibiri into the consciousness of viewers. It is my hope that the new consciousness will produce legitimate presence on those whose responsibility it is to change the current reality. Government has serious responsibility to put things right in the community.
“Before this distinguished gathering of prominent traditional rulers, respected elders, governors and people of Bayelsa and Nigeria, I move as the former head of state to offer the nation’s confirmed regret, my own personal apology to the good people of Oloibiri, to the present and future government to work towards redressing the wrong of the past to this people.
”In the same vein, may I take this opportunity to request the people of Oloibiri to forget the oversight and mistakes of the government both federal, state or local government of Nigeria. May the good Lord grant to all of us the spirit of healing and reconciliation beginning from now across all areas of our land.”
Speaking further, he said, “Permit me to observe that the perception of governance in the 21st century has changed especially the relationship between the government and the governed.
Therefore the government at all levels should have the humility to engage in dialogue with aggrieved people and always strive for justice fairness and equity. Justice for one should be justice for all. And the community should be law abiding and patriotic and the youth should avoid any unholy activities that can tarnish their good image and reputation. I have great faith in our youths; I have great faith in the youths in the Delta region and in the whole country.
The future is yours if you keep it whole; you will be able to build a better country that we will build today. So it is up to you the youths of this country to love your country and defend your country. Try to make it good, that is my charge to the youth and I am telling the youth from the Delta region to avoid destruction of the oil facilities that they will beneficial to them.
Stop doing that because your are hurting yourself and the nation as whole.
“ May I in conclusion commend the federal government for embarking on the clean up of Ogoni land as recommended in the United Nations, environmental program, UNEP,. I hope this will be done in all other places or areas where we have such disasters. As it is being done now in the North East of our country, I will like the federal government to partner with the Bayelsa state government, agencies and developmental plans hat will develop the area,” he said.