Former President, Goodluck Jonathan, on Monday tasked Nigerians to embrace peace and shun violence ahead of the rescheduled general elections.
Mr Jonathan, who was in Bayelsa, his home state at the weekend for the polls earlier scheduled for February 16 and March 2 but postponed by one week to February 23 and March 9, called on Nigerians to remain peaceful.
Mr Jonathan spoke at a meeting with Niger Delta Youth Leaders on Monday in Yenagoa, where he urged the electorate to shun vote buying, instead vote according to their conscience.
“Use of money to induce voters has become very prevalent in Nigeria.
“It is more pronounced here than many African countries I have been to monitor elections and it is unhealthy for our development.
“My NGO is however, working on advocacy against it.
“Politics should be about the people but anyone who wants to make quick money should go into business and quit politics, which is all about service to the people.
“People should vote according to the dictates of their conscience and not be induced by money.
“I have said it several times that no ambition should be worth spilling of the blood of any Nigerian.
“Peace is fundamental to economic development and the reports of insecurity and violence scares away investors.
“Anytime someone is killed either by security agencies or by any other exra judicial means, it affects the reputation of the country adversely and that is why peace building is very essential, especially with the youth.
“Our youths are critical in our democracy because the future belongs to them, so, my advice is that we should be patient and shun violence in the coming elections,” Mr Jonathan said.
Earlier, Kennedy Tonjo-West, a Niger Delta Youth leader, said representatives of Niger Delta youths from across the region were in Bayelsa to applaud the former President for his efforts at peace building.
He said his exemplary leadership style of politics without violence and bitterness was an inspiration to Niger Delta youths.
Mr West, who is also a Senior Special Adviser on Niger Delta Youth matters to the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, noted that Mr Jonathan’s influence on the youth of the region was responsible for the prevailing peace in the region.
He said youths from the region were in Bayelsa to seek counsel from the former President following the shift in election date.
Peretubo Oweilaemi, President of Ijaw Youth Council, said that youth from the Niger Delta region remained proud of the former President, who relinquished power in the interest of peace and development of Nigeria.
“The emphasis of our amiable leader, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, on peace and peace building is very commendable, in spite of his political persuasion, he has chosen to always advocate peace and we the youth are learning from him.
“We have seen the region, which is very crucial to the country’s economy grow in peace because you advocate and preach peace all the time since you left office as President,” Mr Oweilaemi said.
Leaders of Non-Violent Youth groups including: Niger Delta Youths Coalition for Peace and Progress, Ex-Militant Leaders, who embraced the Presidential Amnesty programmes, among others were at the meeting.