Former President Goodluck Jonathan says the electorate, especially the youths, must ensure to turn out massively in the 2023 general election and vote for those who believe in Nigeria’s unity.
Jonathan said this on Saturday as a special guest at the lecture series to mark the 80th birthday of notable businessman and politician, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, which took place in Owerri, Imo State.
The former president heaped praises on the celebrant for his many contributions to the nation’s economy.
He said Iwuanyanwu was a man of many colours and a meticulous investor whose positive story would guide the leaders of the country.
“Iwuanyanwu is a man of victory and his songs tell a story he has continued to place unity above parochial interest,” he said,
Speaking along the theme of the lecture, “Igbo Quest for Nigeria’s Unity,” Jonathan lauded the numerous contributions of the Igbo people to Nigeria’s development.
He emphasised the need to preserve the nation’s unity.
He added that Nigerians should emulate the people of Rwanda in getting over their national challenges, noting that Nigerians had played ethnic politics to the detriment of their national cohesion.
Jonathan stated that the 2023 general election presents a great opportunity for Nigerians to right the wrongs.
“As a nation, we have challenges, but we should not be slaves to our challenges. Let us get over the obstacles and move forward.
“We have to adapt. We must not conform to perceived aberrant behaviour considered to be politically correct.
“Let us look at the case of Rwanda after the genocide, they reconfigured their nation. In today’s Rwanda, tribe is no longer an issue. They all see themselves as one people.
“The incoming Nigerian leaders must take deliberate steps to whittle down the ethnic cleavages pulling us apart and pulling the nation backward.
“So, my appeal to all Nigerians is to de-emphasize our differences and focus on the issues that bind us.
“Luckily, we are in an election cycle, so my challenge to the youth is to take charge of their future; by electing those who believe in our unity and will promote peace and progress, not those who will erect ethnic walls and religious barriers among our people.
“We have over-ethnicized our politics to the detriment of our country and collective growth. We need to stop this.
“Collectively, if we work together and accommodate our differences, we can build a nation where everybody will have a sense of belonging, and everyone’s rights will be guaranteed.
“That is the way we must go; a Nigeria where equality and justice reign.
“Let me conclude that I am happy our father, Chief Iwuanyanwu, has added a decade to the biblical three scores and ten; I wish him more years of celebrations in good health and prosperity.”