It’s time to stop ethnic politics –Jonathan
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, said that burning national issues, including agitations by ethnic nationalities, must be addressed for the country to find peace, and witness sustainable development.
Jonathan stated this in Owerri at a lecture to mark the 80th birthday of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, held at the Imo Concorde Hotel, Owerri. It was organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Imo State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
President Jonathan who was the chairman of the lecture titled: “Igbo Quest for Nigeria Unity,” challenged Nigerian youths to take charge of their future by electing those who believe in the unity of the country, and not in tribalists and religious bigots.
The ex-president also said that Nigerian leaders should take deliberate steps to de-emphasise ethnic cleavages, which are pulling the nation apart.
According to him, “ 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-emphasise our differences and focus on the issues that bind us.
“Luckily, we are in an election cycle, so my challenge to the youths is to take charge of their future, by electing those who believe in our unity, and who will promote peace and progress, not those who will erect ethnic walls and religious barriers among our people. We have over-ethnicised our politics to the detriment of our country and our collective growth. We need to stop this”
He continued: “ 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.”
He pointed out that the Igbo have made enormous contributions to the progress of Nigeria and that they hold an important place in the history of the country through trade and investment.
He said: “They are known to be excellent industrialists and entrepreneurs and scholars. They epitomise resilience amid adversity and fortitude in times of despair; these are the virtues we need to emphasize now more than ever, given our nation’s challenges.
Jonathan while pouring encomium on the elder statesman said, “Iwuanyanwu is worthy of celebration and commendation not just for attaining the milestone of 80 years, but for his contribution to Nigeria’s economy and social and political development.
The Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, who also spoke said that Ndigbo were vital to the development of the country.
Chief Nnia Nwodo, in his address, lamented the huge loss in revenue accruing to the country as a result of mismanagement of resources.