By SAM EYOBOKA & OLAYINKA LATONA
FORMER military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd.) and the National President, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, yesterday, charged Muslim religious, political and traditional leaders to take advantage of the current Ramadan season to engage the dreaded Islamist sect, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal Jihad, also known as Boko Haram, in superior ideological dialogue to end rising terrorist attacks in the country.
Gen. Yakubu Gowon
The two men and the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Bishop Hassan Kukah, spoke at the 10th annual luncheon and awards of the Bible Society of Nigeria, BSN, held in Lagos.
Gowon acknowledged that the country is going through a critical period due to incessant killings and bombings by Boko Haram, saying there was the need for Muslim leaders to engage the sect in a bid to end the unwarranted carnage.
He was optimistic that the current trying period in the nation’s history, like the Nigerian Civil War, will soon pass away.
He urged Nigerians to refrain from attacking President Goodluck Jonathan for delay in arresting the insurgency, pointing out that they have had several meetings with the President on ways of arresting the situation.
Gowon said: “We discuss the problems of the country. We are concerned about the security problem in the country. It is not an easy thing to resolve overnight.
“People were expecting the Civil War to end in a fortnight, but it did not. No matter how weak the opposi-tion is, it will take sometimes to resolve the problem.
“I can assure you that I know the President is doing everything possible to end this crisis.”
Responding to an award presented to him by BSN, the CAN President said if not for God and the gallant efforts of our soldiers fighting the insurgents in the North, Boko Haram would have declared Borno State an Islamic state by now and “use that place to launch out to other parts of the country.
“But somehow, they have not been able to do that. That is the annoyance they have because that is what they wanted to do.
“I am begging our Muslim traditional rulers, Muslim politicians in the northern part of Nigeria to use the occasion of the current Ramadan, the annual observance regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam, to dialogue with the sect known as Boko Haram.”