Former President Goodluck Jonathan bemoaned on Saturday that previous presidents’ attempts to unify Nigeria, particularly those of the First Republic, failed because their programs and policies were regional rather than nationalistic.
However, Jonathan noted that despite the authorities’ best efforts, centrifugal forces that bolstered ethnic interests won out over their efforts to position the nation for economic growth.
In addition, the former president urged Nigerians to take caution when casting ballots, stating, “We must shift away from the politics of bread and butter.”
Jonathan stated this in his paper titled: ‘Lasting legacy: Key to Nigeria’s development issues’, at the one-year memorial lecture in honour of late Captain Hosa Okunbo in Abuja.
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He claimed that the current generation of leaders inherited a country that had already become divided into three and then four regions.
Jonathan said, “I believe that the legacy of nationhood and roots of unity were weak at Nigeria’s independence and not much has been done since then to strengthen the base of the union.
“The decision to shift away from the regional arrangement to a national focus, where Nigerians will begin to see their country as their common heritage, need a different orientation, planning, strategy and adaptation.
“My charge to Nigerians is to be circumspect in the exercise of their voting rights. We must shift away from the politics of bread and butter and ensure that we do not elect leaders that will buy our conscience today and mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren. We should endeavour to elect only those that will leave legacies of unity, peace and development.”