By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan has commended youths of the country for their interest in the country’s political development, urging them to avoid inflammatory comments and hate speech.
The former Nigerian leader identified fake news, hate speech and propaganda as the biggest threat to Nigerian democracy, calling on the citizens to guard against it.
Jonathan who spoke in Abuja on Tuesday at the 2022 Peace Conference organised by the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, cautioned political leaders against violence, saying Nigeria must exist first before having the next President.
Nigeria is heading into a major election early next year to usher in a new leader, as the tenure of the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari winds down May 2023.
Major presidential front runners and their supporters have engaged in war of words in the media space, creating a sense of unease in a country battling secessionist agitation, banditry, and terrorism from the Islamist Boko Haram.
The former Nigerian leader called on those seeking elective positions to protect Africa’s most populous nation from being destroyed. According to him, those interested in becoming president, governors, and legislators have roles to play in preserving the nation’s democracy.
He posited, “We must have a state before you talk about having a President or a governor. If you destroy the country, then where do we need a President?” he said.
“Anybody who is interested in leadership at the level of a president, governor, senator, etc, you have the biggest stake to protect the nation.
“Both those who want to be President, governors and their supporters should first know that we need to have a nation before whoever you are supporting can emerge (into leadership position).”
With the theme, “The Role of Elections in a Multi-Ethnic Context,” the peace conference drew prominent personalities to the NAF Conference Centre, including the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjkpo, former Governor of Bauchi state, Isa Yuguda, Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto Diocese, among others.
Participants at the conference seek to examine the trends and threats to a peaceful election and build a multi-stakeholder consensus toward a peaceful general election.