West & Central Africa

Nigeria is “walking in the wilderness” and needs prayers, says former Head of State


Nigeria’s former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, says the country needs prayers because it is “walking in the wilderness”.

He called on Christians to “to join hands with other Christians and Muslims to offer prayers for the country.”

Yakubu Gowon, initiator of the ‘Nigeria Prays’ an organization coordinating Christians to pray for the country in the last 20 years,  toured the predominantly Muslim North-West zone, comprising Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara and Kaduna states. He urged Christians and Muslims together to pray for the current political uncertainties the country is going through. This follows renewed tensions after Muslim youth organisations backed by prominent leaders, stirred controversy by asking the Christian Igbo tribe to quit northern cities by October this year.

Speaking on Sunday 2 July, in Sokoto Yakubu Gowon said, “‘Nigeria Prays’ is an organization created to pray for Nigeria. We believe that through prayers the problems can be solved and that is why we are holding a prayer rally here.” He said, “I have no doubt in my heart that God will honour our collective prayer and intercession for our dear nation, as well as heal our nation of insecurity… we raise our voices in heartfelt prayers today in Sokoto.”

The former military leader overthrown in a military coup in 1976 and exiled in London has turned into what has been described as a ‘prayer warrior’ for the country. He said, “We are offering fervent prayers that Nigerians will never raise their hands against one another… They should love one another irrespective of religious, ideological, political and ethnic affinities,” he added.

Commenting on the Boko Haram Jihadism in the northeast and attacks by Islamic Fulani Herdsmen, Gowon said, “Prayer can solve problems better and faster than soldiers, as well as physical weapons of war.” Nigerians, he declared, “should value the lives of our fellow human beings that God has created for a purpose. May we never take lives with impunity.”

Kebbi State Governor, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, at the Government House in Birnin Kebbi, played host to the former Head of State, and described General Gowon as Africa’s illustrious son.

In Abuja to mark 20th anniversary of ‘Nigeria Prays’, Gowon said, “When you ask what prayers has God been answering, you think of all the problems and crisis that we have had in the country and the way the good Lord has been able to ensure that they all are peacefully resolved until we create another problem for ourselves.” Therefore, Gowon said, “We cannot stop praying for Nigeria especially in the light of mounting challenges that have continually caused citizens to question their identity and the survival of the nation’s democratic structure.

The Prelate of Methodist Church, Most Rev Kalu Uche, adding his voice to the reason why the country needs prayer, at the ceremony, said, “We see people who to Church and loot the treasury, we see people who go to mosque and loot the treasury. There should be fairness, equity, justice for all and sundry. Government and religious bodies has no reason to exist if they will not care for the downtrodden.”