• Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Jonathan urges politicians, religious leaders to avoid provocative statements, threats

President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday reiterated his appeal to politicians and religious leaders to always avoid provocative and inflammatory statements to ensure violence-free 2015 general elections.
Jonathan, who made the appeal at a workshop on violence-free 2015 election in Abuja, warned that such statements were inimical to the existence of Nigeria as a geo-political entity.
“We (politicians) make statements that are so provocative and when you are making these statements the younger ones are listening to you, your followers who call themselves ‘your fans’ are listening to you.
“We threaten our opponents. A particular governor came to me and said, look, his colleague, a governor in another party, was threatening that ‘immediately we take over government, you will go to jail’.
“If you now threaten somebody that he will go to jail if you take over government that person will want to fight as if he is defending himself from going to jail.
“I’ m talking about our followers.
“My conviction is that from those of us who are politicians we must avoid provocative statements, we must avoid threatening ourselves”.
The president also frowned at the negative pronouncements of some ethnic and religious leaders whom he said were busy labeling people as ‘enemies’ of their faith.
According to him, such hate preaching and pronouncements are unbecoming of leaders who have the interest of the country at heart.
“The other factor we must consider is the religious leaders of all faith.
“They preach wherever they are the hate-messages, instigate their followers to be confrontational and sometimes even label some people or some candidates or some aspirants as the enemies of their faith, either Islam, Christianity or other religions.
“In Nigeria, we are highly religious people. So, we always tend to follow what our religious leaders say.
“So, if our religious leaders continue to go on with such hate preaching or labeling some people as enemies then of course for your followers enemies must be fought.
“So, your followers are not going for election based on the principles of election known globally but they are going with the feeling that they are going for a war to defeat an enemy,” he added.
The president, therefore, called on all Nigerians to always shun hate-preaching, instigating crisis or threatening others so as to ensure violence-free elections.
Jonathan also urged the National Assembly to amend the Electoral Act to enable those who emerged from polls to accommodate their opponents in governance for peace and elimination of political rancour in future.
He noted that under his administration free and fair polls were conducted in many states where the ruling national party lost and the opponents hailed the processes.
He also challenged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to do all it could to conduct free and fair general elections by ensuring that nobody misused the permanent voter cards (PVC) to discredit the polls.