Yenagoa — Former President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, urged Nigerians to stop the quest for power as a tool for oppression, but as a way of advancing humankind.
Speaking during a workshop organised by the Ijaw Elders Forum (IEF) Lagos, in collaboration with Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA), Ijaw Nation Forum (INF), G24 Embasara Foundation (EF), and Ijaw Women Connect (IWC), the former Nigerian leader also blamed politicians who deploy youths for violence during elections for the prevalence of crimes in Bayelsa State.
The programme, the organisers said, was initiated to prepare the ground for a capable leader who will succeed Governor Seriake Dickson after the governorship election in November.
Jonathan posited that rather than deploy violence in achieving their ends as leaders, politicians must learn to play by the rules and accept that power only comes from God and the people.
"What do you leave behind? Sometimes, it's not about the big roads or the big houses you built or the money; sometimes, people forget these things, but how creative you are; what innovations you brought to governance'; what privileges people had. It must go beyond power.
"Were the people living as prisoners but driving on good roads or did they have their freedoms? People must go beyond power for the sake of power. People must look for power for the purpose of leadership.
"Everyone is a leader as long as you can influence another person then you are a leader; you don't need to be a president or governor; so, all of us are leaders," he said.
He added that Nigerians and specifically, the people of Bayelsa State must elect leaders who are committed to non-violence in achieving their set objectives.
"We must play down violence in politics; there is no nation in the world that developed through violence. When we look at the most developed countries in the world, those are the most peaceful countries.
"So, if Bayelsa state must develop, there must be peace in this state and we must start from the political process because most of the criminal gangs that have emerged in this state grew through political activities.
"We, the politicians use them as boys and thugs and at the end of the election it becomes a problem to manage them.
"So, for those who want to rule they must try as much as they can to play down violence and this what I always tell people.
" If God wants you to be our governor or hold any office in government, it's not because of the gun you carried. Don't be deceived that it is because of the arms you carried; it is the will of God and the thinking of the people of Bayelsa," he said.
He urged the group to encourage such meetings from time to time, to internalise some of the principles they espouse.
According to him, "A time has to come that we shall stand and tell anyone who wants to be governor that we can't accept this thuggery and if you use it, we will stand by the people. If people must come here to invest then Bayelsa State must be peaceful"
"That's the area I wanted to go if I won re-election. Even just to clean and cut grass they are waiting for the state governor to go over and clean-up which is not right," he stressed.
Former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Timi Alaibe, noted that participants must put the words of wisdom by the elders into action during the campaigns.
"From our recent history, we have witnessed detonation of explosives at political campaign grounds, campaign offices and homes of political leaders and perceived political opponents."
"You are aware that I was, more than once, a victim of such senseless attack. The bloodshed and killings in the last elections was another example of disgraceful acts of violence. It must never happen again," he said.