President Goodluck Jonathan has urged the incoming Muhammadu Buhari-led government not to discard the report of the 2014 National Conference, which he initiated steps to implement before losing the recent election.
The president tasked Mr. Buhari to appreciate the good contributions made by Nigerians towards nation-building irrespective of political party or creed.
The president spoke shortly after being decorated with the “Peace-Loving Global Citizen” Award by the Universal Peace Forum led by lawyer, Mike Ozehkome, at the Presidential Villa, Tuesday.
He expressed hope that the incoming administration would take the time to appreciate the contributions of Nigerians from every part of the country in the efforts to build a greater nation.
The president enjoined Nigerians to strengthen the weak cleavages which abound in the country and not to exploit them for negative reasons.
He said everyone must be ready to make sacrifices.
“We have our challenges, of course,” he said. “We had a national conference; the idea of the conference is to look at these weak cleavages we have in this country.
“And we just finished that conference and we are thinking about how to implement it so that Nigeria will become more stronger and united nation. I cannot be a party to the disintegration of the country.
“But I’m quite pleased with what has happened. We have a country; our country will be more united. I believe and do pray that the incoming government should appreciate the contributions of everybody and see how we run Nigeria as a country that belongs to everybody, for all citizens; irrespective of political persuasion or creed; so that is what I stand for.”
Accepting his latest award, Mr. Jonathan said he would not be party to the disintegration of Nigeria, which was one of the reasons he conceded defeat after the presidential polls.
He said even if he ruled Nigeria for the next 25 years, he would not be at peace with himself if it led to the deaths of Nigerians.
“I took that decision (to concede to Buhari) because I told those around me that no matter the ambition, the nation comes first,” he said.
He told the public that his Vice-President, Namadi Sambo, and the Peoples Democratic Party equally deserved the encomiums poured on him following his historic telephone call to congratulate Mr. Buhari after the March 28 poll.
In his remarks, Mr. Ozekhome praised Mr. Jonathan’s gesture, which he said had positively put Nigeria on the global map.
“Given your uncommon, almost unnatural gesture of conceding victory to your opponent, we want you to go back to Otuoke a very proud man,” he said.
“You are the greatest democrat we have ever had in this country. History will be fair to you.”
He, however, warned the outgoing president that he would have little rest after office since he would be invited to several world fora to lend his experience and touch to democracy.
Describing the president as a global peace ambassador, Mr. Ozekhome announced the nomination of Mr. Jonathan to the board of the UPF in place of former head of state, Ernest Shonekan, who stepped down recently.
Mr. Ozekhome also invited Mr. Jonathan to an international conference of the Forum holding in Seoul, South Korea in August.