Nigeria: Gowon – How Successive Govts Slowed Nigeria’s Development

Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole in Abuja

A former Military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has lamented the deficit of rapid development in Nigeria, disclosing that the failure of successive governments to implement the 1975-1980 National Development was responsible for the country’s snail-paced development.

Gowon, the longest-serving leader of the federation, added that the failure of successive governments to adhere to the beautiful work of the dedicated Nigerian military officers led by Gen. Damkat Bali denied Nigeria the benefit of coordinated development for a great nation.

He expressed this concern during the public presentation of a book in Abuja Friday, pointing out that, if successive governments had not abandoned the national development plan, Nigeria would have developed far beyond what it is today.

Written by the widow of the late general, Mrs. Esther Bali, the book was titled “General Domkat Yah Bali (GCON) as Ponzhi Tarok Designate: a Contextual Analysis of the Imbroglio.”

The book presentation was attended by the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, a former Minister of Sports and Youths Development, Solomon Dalung and the founder of the Abuja-based King Adebayo Film and Theatre Arts Network Television, Prince Adewole Adebayo, among others.

Speaking at the presentation, Gowon lamented Nigeria’s slow development, maintaining that if successive governments in Nigeria “had maintained the prescription in the development plan and stuck to it, Nigeria would have been a great nation, far better that it has attained.

He said: “If only the development plan that we had at that time, 1975 – 1980, was implemented, Nigeria would have witnessed rapid development. If they had carried it through, it would have made all the difference.”

Gowon said the level of loyalty “to the state by officers at the time and commitment to service was one he owed greatly to his subordinates, including Bali

“All these achievements, we can say, I really owe it to General Bali and all those young officers in those days though, young as they were, they shouldered those responsibilities far, far above their age and experience.”

Also at the book presentation, President Muhammadu Buhari said Gen. Bali, whom the book talked about, was a man of courage and unwavered integrity which defined his military career and path as a civilian.

Buhari, represented by the women affairs minister, said: “As a senior military officer General Bali was a gentleman and man of integrity, a highly respected Nigerian who maintained his integrity to death.

Buhari challenged all Nigerians “to live a life of integrity and respectfulness.”

In her address, the widow of the late general explained that she decided to write the book in order to set the records straight.

She said: “It became very pertinent to write this book in order to set the records straight regarding the build up to his selection and appointment as Ponzhi Tarok Designate while awaiting the presentation of Staff of Office.

“The backdrop of this development was characterized by all sorts of false rumors, lies, deceit etc. Nigerians must always keep records of events to help document the truth of what happened during any given historical period. A nation built on falsehood and rumors does not last and will eventually collapse.

“The writing of this book is sequel to my discussion with a highly respected and reliable elder statesman who is in the know regarding the false rumors that were circulated regarding my late husband which he brought to my attention when he came to the family house on a condolence visit.

“This privileged information that he shared with me greatly motivated me to set the records straight for the historical benefit of the present and succeeding generations.” the widow of the late general said.

Pointing out rare qualities of the late general, Dalung revealed that Bali allowed the public interest to override his personal interest on the matter of Ponzhi Tarok, as he relinquished the title for peace in the kingdom.

He also noted that the 1975 Gazette had been followed by the state government at the time and had begun the process of selecting a Ponzhi Tarok but was reversed by another government in 2010 leading to the emergence of Gen Domkat Bali as the Ponzhi Designate breeding litigations that made him resign.

Adebayo, also presenter of the book, pointed out that the book dwelt on the principles of truth and justice.

The book presenter said: “It is the human story, about the need for society to have honour and integrity. Sacrifice of personal interest for the good of the wider society.”


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