Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan has felicitated with former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd) on his 83rd birthday, describing him as an icon of peace and unity. Jonathan who stated this in a goodwill message he personally signed recalled that Gowon led Nigeria at a very crucial time in its history, stressing that he “strengthened the band that held our nation together.” He said further in the tribute to Gowon: “As a statesman and nationalist, you have remained an inspiring figure and a moral conscience of the nation, because of your integrity and ethical disposition to Nigeria’s growth and development.” Yakubu Gowon Below is the full text of the goodwill message released by Jonathan’s spokesman, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze: “Your Excellency, it is my pleasure to warmly congratulate you on your 83rd birthday. “As mortals, we live under God’s special will in our various lives. The Almighty’s enduring grace is upon you, as it has pleased Him to bless you with long life in excellent health. “You have truly earned your pips in the pantheon of Nigeria’s Greats, having led the nation at a very crucial time in its history. Through your bravery, foresight, and patriotism, you strengthened the band that held our nation together, at a time that its unity and corporate existence was severely tested. “Even when you dropped the rifle and bayonet, you picked up a more powerful tool, the Holy Bible, to continue your crusade for a better Nigeria, through the ‘Nigeria Prays’ project. “As a statesman and nationalist, you have remained an inspiring figure and a moral conscience of the nation, because of your integrity and ethical disposition to Nigeria’s growth and development. “Nigerians will continue to celebrate you as an icon of peace and unity. Your Excellency, as you mark this day, my family and I wish the best for you and pray for God’s guidance in your continuing service to our dear nation. “Congratulations”

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