PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan has admonished politicians to desist from quarreling like motor park touts ahead next year’s general election but should rather think of the interest of Nigerians.
Speaking at the official presentation of the Kukah Centre in Abuja, on Tuesday, he urged politicians to see the 2015 elections as another opportunity for them to renew their commitment to deepening the nation’s democracy and strengthening its bond of unity.
“I think we are over defining our democracy today by quarrelling as if democracy is about competitors quarrelling just like motor park workers,” he said.
The centre is owned by the Catholic Archbishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Matthew Kukah.
Jonahan said: ‘‘Democracy is not just about political parties and politicians alone, it is not just about winning or losing elections, it is about freedom, about development and above all, a forward match of our civilisation and encouragement of creativity. It is in this regard that we must seek to identify and support the growth of structures and institutions that will help strengthen our democracy to meet our aspirations as a people.”
The president described Bishop Kukah, as a great man, with a great vision, with great commitment to do his best for the people of his country, saying his centre was to add more building blocks to the growth and development of democracy.
Jonathan said: “We have gathered here to add more building blocks to the growth and development of democracy. Since our nation returned to democracy, this is the longest stretch of uninterrupted civilian rule that we have had in our dear country.
“Our long journey has been challenging, we have also shown resilience and commitment in walking the path of democratic consolidation. For this, I thank the people of Nigeria for their support and steadfastness. This country is ours to build and we must remain committed to this enterprise.
“As elections draw close, I call on all politicians to see this as another opportunity for us to renew our commitment to deepening our democracy and strengthening our bond of unity.
The president said he was happy with the mission of the Kukah centre, noting that he was quite pleased with the mission statement which sought to, among other objectives, “conceptualise, design, clarify and articulate proactive mechanism that will increase policy proficiency, effectiveness and the attainment of the common good.”
He further observed that the world’s most advanced countries did not get to their current position by accidents but through carefully-developed policies which were tested over time among the leadership infused with clarity of vision and the tenacity of purpose.
According to him, “Today, governance has become a science with clearly-developed tools to measure the impact of the policies on the people.
“As our young democracy grapples with numerous development challenges, Nigeria’s political class can further draw inspiration from the Kukah’s Centre vision statement, and I quote, “To aspire towards the attainment of a more humane, democratic and free society where citizens can live in real and true freedom, unencumbered by any structures of exclusion on the basis of ethnic, religious, social status, economic or gender differences.
“I believe that our democracy should be strengthened by robust debates, generation of innovative ideas and development, patriotism and progress in our country. I, therefore, call on everyone, the political class, our ordinary citizens but even more importantly, the academic community to rise up to these challenges posed by this initiative,” he stated.
In his remark, former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, who was the chairman on the occasion, observed that all was not well with Nigeria, noting the war being waged by Boko Haram and their sponsors against the people and unity of the nation.
He explained that the centre would serve as a platform for mentoring the society and sensitising Nigerians on the need to be vigilant.