Former president Goodluck Jonathan has attributed conflicts in African countries to the endless power struggles by leaders in the continent.
Jonathan who spoke in Abuja on Thursday at a one-day peace conference tagged “Peaceful Elections and National Development” organised by the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF), said the proliferation of conflicts in African states has led to underdevelopment.
He said,“there is a vicious cycle in Africa where the struggle for political power leads to conflicts that bring up poor governance and create hardship which fuels the struggle for change of leadership, thus creating further conflicts and poor leadership.”
“It is my considered view that as African leaders, we must change our approach and disposition towards stewardship. We must get to the stage where we should be more interested in developing our people, rather than ruling or just governing them. A development-minded leader is visionary and selfless. He does not seek power at all cost and will not wield it for his own sake.
“There is no gainsaying that when politicians resort to desperate measures in the bid to occupy important political positions, they run the risk of plunging their countries into serious crises that often lead to loss of lives, degradation of values as well as destruction of private and public assets.
“This breed of politicians often ignores the fact that to be patriotic is to love your country and be prepared to live and die for her honour, reputation, freedom, progress and the ascendancy of the common good. You can restore destroyed infrastructure almost to its former state or even better, but you cannot easily repair people’s psyche, reconcile aggrieved persons and restore hope in a nation, once they are damaged in destructive leadership struggles,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan said developed countries have been able to minimise conflicts in their domains while such is not the case in most African countries.
The former president called for peaceful elections in Nigeria ahead of next week’s general elections. He cautioned political actors against instigating violence and to place the interest of the country above their personal ambitions.
“For democracy to endure and be productive on the continent, African politicians and other stakeholders must realize that true heroes of leadership are not those whose desperation to impose their will endangers society, but those who have the humility to subjugate their personal ambitions to the collective interest of their nations. Our political leaders must realize that the greatest and most enduring legacy to leave behind is that of peace and development.
“We are convinced that any one, either in government or outside government, who truly loves Nigeria, will not want to play the role of the villain by lending his support to any action that instigates crises,” he said.