A former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, on Friday said that he was petrified when he emerged Nigeria’s Head of State at age 31.
The retired army general became the third Nigerian leader and the youngest ever on Aug. 1, 1966, before his 32nd birthday on Oct. 19, 1966.
At a virtual reality history competition organised by the ANISZA Foundation and Gallery, Gowon said: “I felt petrified when I took over as Head of State.”
The event, which has “Sustaining Peace Together’’ as its theme, was organised to commemorate the second anniversary of the foundation.
The virtual event was moderated by Ms Novo Isioro, the Founder and Curator of ANISZA Foundation and Gallery.
Gowon said that his ambition then was just to be a good soldier.
“I never planned to be the president; it just happened,” he said.
Gowon, who relived some of his life experiences, urged young Nigerians to imbibe the right attitudes and values.
He also advised them to contribute their quotas to national development.
Gowon urged the participants to be committed to promoting the unity of Nigeria.
He reiterated his faith in the Nigerian youth and the country’s potential for greatness.
“We can live in peace and unity, irrespective of our religions and tribes.”
Gowon called on Nigerian youths as well as traditional and religious institutions to take up the responsibility of securing national identity.
A highpoint of the event was the premiere of the “Heart of the Matter with Novo Isioro”, an online talk show where the host would raise issues of peace and unity as they affect Nigeria and the world at large.
The host, Isioro, explained that the event and the concept of ANISZA were to educate Nigerian youths, particularly secondary school students, about the nation’s history, using pictures.
She said that the national virtual history competition was part of the efforts of ANISZA to engage young Nigerians to foster national unity.
One of the participants, Mr Godswill Chibuzor, said that he was delighted to see and hear from the former head of state.
He hailed the event organisers for the initiative.
Chibuzor and some other participants at the virtual event expressed confidence that Nigeria would be great.