Former President Goodluck Jonathan has applauded the standard bearer of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, who he said was the first presidential candidate to lead a delegation to visit him.
The courtesy visit to Jonathan’s home in Yenagoa took place before Obi’s rally in Bayelsa State on Friday.
While commending Obi for his cultured public utterances, the ex-president urged him to make a unity of Nigeria his priority if elected as president.
He said, “I want to thank you that you are the first presidential candidate to pay a courtesy visit to me. I want to use this opportunity to encourage you in what you are doing.
I have been listening to comments from political leadership and sometimes our supporters do more damage on our behalf. And I must commend you because your utterances so far have not shown any division. Just keep doing what is right.
If you win, you will be a president for the whole nation, you won’t be a President for any group of people.
“For Nigeria to move forward we need unity. There were predictions in the late 50s and early 60s that Nigeria and some other countries will be at par, and we normally ask ourselves why are we where we are now. This was predicted by intellectuals, people who study the world and predicted that Nigeria, India, Brazil etc but all those countries left us but we are still where we are. We Nigerians must ask ourselves one question, why are we not able to move with others?
“In terms of tribal and religious sentiments, they are almost in every nation but the degree we have in Nigeria is very debilitating. It is what is pushing us backwards. We have a country that we do not believe we belong to the country. Most of our leaders would say Nigeria is not a nation. We have different nationalities and geographical expressions but I believe that young people, especially if we must move forward must put those sentiments aside.
“Every nation, every country has their own history. A Nigerian must see himself as a Nigerian. We must see ourselves as one. And if I am the President, if the best person to hold a particular office is from Enugu, Ibadan, or Sokoto, it doesn’t matter. And until we get to that point as a nation, we cannot move anywhere. We have been putting square pegs in round holes because of religious, tongues and tribal sentiments.
“If by divine providence you win the election, your first responsibility is to unite Nigeria. Without unity, we cannot solve our security problems. Without unity, we cannot solve our economic problems. If you unite Nigeria, that is the beginning of a new Nigeria, and the revolution and the development that will take place.”
Appreciating his warm gesture and hospitality, an excited Obi promised to do his best to unite the people.
He also vowed to bring back the glory days of the country when he gets elected as president at the February 25 presidential poll.
“Nobody can talk about peace, and unity today without reference to you. All we have been preaching throughout our campaign is that we want to unite Nigeria we want to ensure that Nigeria moves back to where her per capital was a few years before.
“All these are in reference to you so I am here personally as your own junior brother to pay respect and loyalty. I am sure you must have endorsed your own,” he said. The Punch