A former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has expressed regrets over the failure of successive governments to continue with the National Development Plan (1975-1980), which was put in place by his regime.
According to him, the failure of successive governments to adhere to the beautiful work of the dedicated Nigerian military officers, led by General Domkat Bali, denied the country of the benefit of coordinated development for a great nation.
Gowon stated this on Sunday in Abuja during the public presentation of a book titled, ‘General Domkat Yah Bali (GCON) as Ponzhi Tarok-designate: A contextual analysis of the imbroglio’, co-authored by his wife, Esther Bali and Bata Musa.
Domkat Bali was a retired four-star General of the Nigerian Army, Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, member of the Supreme Military Council (1984-1985) and the Armed Forces Ruling Council (1985-1990).
The book was presented by a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Coalition of Nigerian Political Parties, Prince Adewole Adebayo.
Gowon maintained that if successful governments had followed the development plan put in place by him, Nigeria would have been a great nation, far better that it is presently.
“If only the development plan that we had at that time (1975-1980) had continued; if they had carried it through; it would have made all the difference,” he stated.
The ex-Head of State said the level of loyalty to the state by officers at the time and the commitment to service was one he owed greatly to his subordinates, including Bali.
“All this achievement, we can say, I really owe it to General Bali and all those young officers in those days. Although, young as they were, they shouldered those responsibilities far above their ages and experience,” he said.
Adebayo said the book dwelt on the principles of truth and justice.
He stated, “My job is to present this book to the public, but just note that the book we are presenting is not just the print and the paper, it is the principle behind the book that we are presenting. It is not a rock story.
“It’s the human story about the need for society to have honour and integrity. It is the sacrifice of personal interest for the good of the wider society.”
At the event, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), represented by the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, charged Nigerians to place national interest above personal gains for the development of the country.
Buhari also challenged all Nigerians to live a life of integrity and respect.
The President said Bali, in whose honour the book was written, was a man of courage and integrity, which defined his military career and path as a civilian.
Tallen said, “Mr President, therefore, celebrates and congratulates General Bali’s family this year as they mark his 82nd posthumous birthday.
As a senior military officer, General Bali was a gentleman and a man of integrity, a highly respected Nigerian who maintained his integrity till death.”
The guest speaker and former Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, said Bali allowed public interest to override his personal interest on the matter of the Ponzhi Tarok, as he relinquished the title for public peace.
He said 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 Bali as the Ponzhi-designate, a situation that bred litigation that made him to resign.