The National Orientation Agency (NOA) has urged Nigerians to embrace the ideals of patriotism, selflessness and total dedication to the fatherland as essentials for actualizing the Nigerian dream.
NOA Director General, Garba Abari espoused these national values at the Bridge Builders awards organised by the Agency in collaboration with Love to the World Initiative, a non-governmental organisation, to honour eminent Nigerians and organisations that have made significant contributions towards promoting national unity.
Abari explained that awards are not mere symbols of recognition but avenues to influence the younger generation toward patriotism, national faith and love of country.
In his words, “The time to change is now and the time to manifest love is now. Nigerians should be advocates of unity, love and good neighbourliness and be patriotic in contributing to the development of the nation”.
Former Head of State and Chairman of the occasion, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (Rtd), said Nigerians must continue to strive toward building a strong and virile country through acts that promote stronger ties of love, peace and unity.
The elder statesman further admonished religious leaders to desist from incisive utterances and rather intensify efforts at inculcating sound tenets of love, charity and togetherness. “The unity and peace of Nigeria is not negotiable and we all should continue to strive towards nation building” Gowon insisted.
The President of Love to the World Initiative, Josephine Abraham noted that the awardees were carefully selected based on their selfless service and dedication to the cause of peace and unity in Nigeria. She advocated a paradigm change in the narration of the Nigerian story from focusing on corrupt people to showcasing the good people who have committed their entire lives to the service of Nigeria. She therefore urged young Nigerians to imbibe sound moral values and be good ambassadors of peace and unity of Nigeria.
Eminent Nigerians and organisations that were honoured included the Governors of Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Cross River, Delta, Kebbi, Lagos, Sokoto, Imo and Plateau States. Others are the immediate past Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; former governor of Kaduna State, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi; former Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Dame Pauline Tallen; foremost businessman and industrialist, Aliko Dangote; and Co-convener, Bring Back Our Girls group, Oby Ezekwesili. Also awarded were a seven year old, Shise Alagh, teenagers, traditional and religious leaders as well as educational institutions.