Gowon also urged indigenes of the Niger Delta to stop destroying oil facilities in the area.
He made the comments at the premiere of “Oloibiri”, a movie about the Niger Delta, while serving as the guest of honour.
“Watching through the movie, I cannot help but feel with the plight of Oloibori and all other oil producing communities and their people in the land. I agree that the movie mirrors a clear manifestation of the collective negligence and failure of leadership in successive governments in our country,” Gowon said according to The Cable.
“Looking back today, I must confess here that the people of Oloibiri have felt badly neglected and of course, they are hurt. We must, however, acknowledge as a nation and as a people that along the way, we have made mistakes, clearly Oloibiri community has not been treated fairly, they deserve or sympathy, consideration, and collective resolve to develop this once vibrant community.
“I move as a former head of state to offer the nation’s profound regrets and my personal apology to the good people of Oloibiri with the prayers to the present and future government at all levels in the land to work towards redressing the wrongs of the past to these people.
“I also request the people of Oloibiri to forgive the oversight and mistakes of the government and the corporate government of Nigeria. I have great faith in our youth in the Delta region. The future is yours if you keep it whole, you will be able to build a better country than we would leave to you today. It is up to you to love your country, defend it whether good or bad but try to make it right.
“In the Delta region, do not go on destroying all these facilities that you would need to develop, for God’s sake, stop doing that because you are hurting yourself and you are hurting the nation as a whole,” he added.
Militancy in the Niger Delta has caused unrest in the area and affected oil output due to the destruction of facilities.