By G9ija

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated former Head of State, retired Gen. Yakubu Gowon, on his 87th birthday, rejoicing with the leader and his family on the grace for good health and strength to keep serving.

Buhari, in a congratulatory message issued by his spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, on Tuesday in Abuja, lauded Gowon for the formidable role he has been playing in the development of the country.

He acknowledged that the former Head of State had always been advocating peace and unity, and consistently remaining a voice of reason and wisdom in good governance and democracy.

The president also noted with commendation and gratitude, the statesmanship of the Convener and National Chairman of “Nigeria Prays’’, whose vision for a greater country resonates in the programmes he instituted in the 70’s .

He stated that such programmes included the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), creation of states, and the Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation project, which had turned a reference for harmony.

Buhari believed that grace and fortune had continued to guide the elder statesman, starting out as a career soldier, youngest military Chief of Staff and youngest Head of State, before turning a Professor of Political Science and founder of the Yakubu Gowon Centre.

The Centre has continued to support issues of good governance, infectious disease control, HIV/AIDS and malaria.

The president joined Gowon’s family, friends and Nigerians in praying for longer life for the visionary leader.