Jonathan ask politicians to pursue peace at polls

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen. Abdusalam Abubakar (rtd) have called on all political actors in the country to ensue peace as the country goes to the polls.

The duo spoke on the need for political actors to douse the tension which has always been part of the country’s electoral process.

The two former leaders spoke at a one day conference on peaceful elections and national development organised by the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF), with the theme “Peaceful Elections and National Development”.

They also pointed out that peace is essential for the Nigeria’s survival and development.

In his opening remark, former President Jonathan pointed out the strong connection between the struggle for power and national development.

He noted that despite the improvement recorded in the country’s electoral process, election related violence continued to occur. This, he said, has hindered peaceful co-existence, economic growth and sustainable development.

Jonathan, therefore, called on political actors to change their approach and disposition towards stewardship; stressing that as a nation, emphasis should be on the development of the people.

He explained that the 10 most developed nations on earth are those

countries that experience the least conflicts while the 10 least developed countries, many of them here in Africa, are the once wallowing in the worst form of conflicts.

He said: “No doubt, there is a strong nexus between the struggle for power and national development. There is a vicious cycle in Africa where the struggle for political power leads to conflicts that bring up poor governance and creates hardship which fuels the struggle for change of leadership; thus, creating further conflicts and poor leadership.

“ It is my considered view that as African leaders, we must change our approach and disposition towards stewardship. We must get to the stage where we should be more interested in developing our people, rather than ruling or just governing them.

A development-minded leader is visionary and selfless. He does not seek power at all cost and will not wield it for its own sake.

“The ten most developed nations on this earth are those countries that experience the least conflicts while the ten least developed countries, many of them here in Africa, are the once wallowing in the worst form of conflicts. The lesson in this existential reality is that any leader who is committed to the development of his country will do everything to save it from turmoil and conflicts.

“There is no gainsaying that when politicians resort to desperate measures in the bid to occupy important political positions, they run the risk of plunging their countries into serious crises that often lead to loss of lives, degradation of values as well as destruction of private and public assets.

”This breed of politicians often ignore the fact that to be patriotic is to love your country and be prepared to live and die for her honour, reputation, freedom, progress and the ascendancy of the common good. You can restore destroyed infrastructure almost to its former state or even better, but you cannot easily repair people’s psyche, reconcile aggrieved persons and restore hope in a nation, once they are damaged in destructive leadership struggles.

“In Nigeria we know that the injuries of the civil war which ended since 1970 are still in our memories.

“We know that good governance is the fertile ground upon which peace and sustainable economic growth are planted. In this regard, it is important to point out that in a democracy, periodic, credible and peaceful elections i s the necessary gateway to improved governance and people-oriented development.

“Although it is reassuring to note that democracy is being consolidated on the continent, with elections now conducted routinely by many African nations, it is however difficult to express such optimism on the peaceful nature of the electoral processes.

“It is on record that despite the marked improvement on the regularity and number of democratic nations, election-related violence has continued to be experienced in many African nations, often to the detriment of peaceful co-existence, economic growth and sustainable development.

“This year, hundreds of millions of Africans will go to the polls in at least 20 nations, from the south to the north of the continent, including Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa where general elections are holding.””As the ongoing democratic process unfolds, with the rest of the world watching with keen interest, we are also mindful of the worries of Nigerians on whether it would end peacefully,” he added.

Gen. Abubakar, the chairman of the occasion, noted the place of violence in the country’s political space, saying that Nigeria is not strange to electoral violence, as the country has had its share of electoral violence in the past.

This he attributed to the keen competitions among the various contenders.

He said: “The period of elections in this country is often tension soaked because of the competition involved. Nigeria is not strange to electoral violence.

“Africa indeed is a hot bed of election controversies. In African countries, like Kenya, Cote d’ Ivoire and the Gambia, we have seen the serious implications of electoral tension to national security and development.

“Nigeria is not a stranger to electoral violence. This country has historically had its fair share of election violence. Some of the violence even dates back to pre-independence era and Nigerians have witnessed the destruction that took place and retarded development.”

He went on: “All Nigerians and indeed the whole world are praying that the election will be peaceful. As we all know, peace is absolutely necessary for the survival a nation because without peace there will be no nation, without a nation there wouldn’t be any election.”

Gen. Abubakar praised Dr. Jonathan for his handling of the 2015 general elections, especially with the prediction of that the country will be balkanized.

He noted that Jonathan saved the country from a political crisis by keeping to his word that his ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.

“Allow me to on behalf of all Nigerians, once more, thank former President Goodluck Jonathan for saving the country from falling into political crisis and in further strengthening the growth of democracy not only in Nigeria but in Africa and indeed the world,” he said.

“The general elections where the doomsayers were predicting the balkanisation of Nigeria, but thank God through the action of Nigerians and the then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, they were proved wrong because this gentleman kept his word that his presidency is not worth the blood of any Nigerian and he graciously conceded defeat at that election,” he added.

Bishop Mathew Kukah pointed out that the problem with Nigerians is that they assume a lot about their leaders.

Voters, he added, must not leave our fate in the hands of politicians, adding that leaders should be interrogated.

The outspoken Bishop also advocated inter-tribal marriage as a way of uniting the people.

According to him, only common solidarity can save the country from electoral violence.

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