President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday said internal democracy, as well as internal stability was the panacea for economic stability.
He also said it was practically impossible to have a meaningful development without peace. The president dropped the when he received the 2013 Africa Peace Award from the United Religions Initiatives (URI) at the Presidential Villa.
He said in an atmosphere of rancour and violence, development would be at the lull, adding that differences cannot be resolved through the barrels of the gun.
"Even when countries are fighting at the end of the day they will still come to the dialogue table to resolve their difference. They have hardly solved their difference through the barrel of the gun, even if you had the most sophisticated weapons to fight, they will still come to negotiate otherwise you can never live in peace.
"So let me call on all Nigerians especially the young people, if you come to the South of this country you hear about militancy, kidnapping and if you go to the North you have this issue of Boko Haram. For us to develop our country, we must all embrace peace. There is no way the government can perform magic when the people are shooting guns, because economic growth and development is in the hands of the private sector," the president said.
Jonathan expressed joy that the leadership of the African Union and ECOWAS are now interested in helping African states to achieve peace.
According to the president, "there cannot be economic development without peace. For you to develop economically there must be peace and political stability. So the leadership of African Union and ECOWAS have changed and we believe that we must help ourselves and help our states and govern our states the way it should be governed. If there are crises we should intervene and that has been helping us significantly" Jonathan, who dedicated the award to all Nigerians, promised to continue to play the roles that would enhance peace and guarantee political stability in the country, noting that economic growth, development and stability are tied to political stability.
"This award is dedicated to my people and my country Nigeria. We couldn't have been qualified for this award if my people did not encourage me.
Nigeria, somehow, God has given us that unique privilege to be fairly more robust than some of our African countries and we are one of the African countries that the whole world look up to, to assist in one way or the other. So this award is for Nigeria and not for Goodluck Jonathan.
"We would continue to do our best. For me as an individual I will continue to play my role in spite of the challenges. Let me use this unique opportunity to call on all Nigerians and all the people of the world to embrace peace. You cannot talk about development when you are fighting" the president stressed.
While presenting the award to Jonathan, the Regional Director of URI, Ambassador Mussie Hailu, said the award was in recognition of President Jonathan's immense contributions to religious harmony in Nigeria and peace keeping operations under the United Nations.
"We have been following with great interest the great role the president play in his country, West Africa and Africa as a whole since he took office as President of Nigeria. We commend his leadership qualities in West African sub region in particular as ECOWAS Chairman and also lauded the current transformation agenda of his administration," Hailu said.
He explained that the award was non- monetary, but to honour people who have distinguished themselves and exhibited exceptional leadership qualities.
According to him, previous recipients of the award are the former President of Mozambique, Joaquin Chissano, Girma Woldegiorgis of Ethiopia, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso.