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Yakubu Gowon 85 tomorrow, Buhari says he’s a living legend
President Muhammadu Buhari and Gen. Yakubu Gowon at a meeting at the State House Abuja in May 2019

President Muhammadu Buhari has described Nigeria’s former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon a living legend and a symbol of national unity, in a tribute to mark Gowon’s 85th birthday tomorrow.

The Wusasa, Zaria-born second military leader became head of state in July 1966, after a counter-coup against Major General Aguiyi Ironsi, who had taken over power after the January 15, 1966 by young army officers. He was just 31 years old.

Gowon went on to govern for nine years, until he was toppled in another coup in 1975, which brought Murtala Muhammed to power. The young Buhari, as a military officer took part in the two coups.

Buhari underscored Gowon’s youthfulness when he became Nigeria’s ruler in 1966. But it was for positive things, praising him for his visionary leadership style, wisdom and disciplined outlook.

He recalled that Gowon kept the country as one and extolled the former Head of State for his faith and steadfastness in God in times of adversity, and courageously pursuing the interest of majority Nigerians for a unified and stronger country.

“The President believes the elder statesman laid a solid foundation for the country to thrive, with the creation of federating units, and implementation of futuristic policies like the National Youths Service Corps, that has consistently served the purpose of fostering unity, harmony and expanding the horizons of young Nigerians for life-time opportunities”, Buhari said in the tribute signed by Femi Adesina, his media adviser.

Buhari also commended Gen. Gowon’s simplicity and humility, leaving the highest position in the country to return to school for further studies, and returning to provide wise counsels to leaders, encouraging good governance and setting up an organization , Nigeria Prays, that consistently upholds the nation in prayers.

“The President notes that the former Head of State has stayed relevant in Nigeria and beyond, and enjoys wide respect from far and near.

“President Buhari congratulates all family members, friends and close associates of the exemplary leader on the auspicious occasion of his 85th birthday, praying that the Almighty God will always remember his sacrifices for the nation, and grant him longer life, good health and strength to keep working for the good of country and humanity”, the statement added.

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