Abuja â€“ The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, on Wednesday appealed to Nigerian youths to always put the nation first and embrace peace to foster development in the country.
Jonathan said this while receiving various youth leaders who visited the State House in Abuja as part of activities ahead of the National Youth Peace Concert.
The concert is scheduled for Saturday, March 8 in Abuja.
The youth leaders, who were led by three personalities, said they were at the Villa to chart a course for the concert.
The three personalities included Mike Omeri, Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA), and Onyeka Onwenu, Director-General, National Women Development Centre (NWDC).
The other one is Jude Imagwe, the Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Youth and Student Affairs.
â€œI invited you here today for two reasons. One of them is to work with you to make Nigeria a better place for us to live in, and the other one is to ensure our states, local government areas, regions and zones are peaceful.
â€œNo one can do it all, we need collective efforts to make Nigeria a better place to live in. Please, put the nation first, because no other country is better than ours,â€™â€™ the First Lady said.
She said the concert would be a turnaround for youths as it would enlighten them on peaceful ways to co-habit with their neighbours and thereby shun violence.
Dame Patience Jonathan decried the ongoing killings in Borno, saying the killing of students and other Nigerians was a dastard act as the youths are the nationâ€™s future hope.
â€œToday, I have two children. If they get killed, life is not worth living for me. Why will anyone therefore want to kill peopleâ€™s children? No mother will like to suffer in vain.
â€œOur joy is in the youths. You are the hope of Nigeria, the hope of tomorrow. I donâ€™t want to lose any of you.
â€œPlease, be co-ordinated, and also be good ambassadors at the concert so that the foreigners can take good news back home about us,â€™â€™ she said.
While responding individually, Yinka Gbadebo, Usman Ibrahim, Amina Abdulone and Dauda Abduljelil who were among speakers, spoke for the youths and also proffered solutions to the countryâ€™s insecurity problems.
â€œI appeal that your peace initiative should extend to the campuses which are the intellectual community of the nation.
â€œAlso, our campuses in the North should be more secured so that our brothers and sisters can be safe.
â€œI also appeal that as you have successfully advocated for 35 per cent for women, advocate for 20 per cent for the youths so that we can be involved in governance and drastically reduce unemployment among us,â€™â€™ Gbadebo said.
Ibrahim, on his part, said: â€œI lost a namesake the oldest son of my sister and a friend in the Buni Yadi killings.
â€œThe situation is pathetic. Satanic people are killing our brothers and sisters every day, and we need solutions fast.â€™â€™
Also, Abdulone said: â€œThis concert is coming at a very crucial time for the nation. I grew up and schooled in Yobe, but when I went back there two weeks ago, I wept. We need to help the women who bear the brunt of any conflictâ€™â€™.
On his part, Abduljelil said: â€œOur lives are at stake. No one understands whatâ€™s happening. Itâ€™s not about the North East but about Nigeria. The elite have created this monster eating deep into us.
â€œThese were youths who were dedicated to working for this country but someone has polluted their minds and turned them against the system.
â€œWe need to reach out to our brothers and bring them back to the path of peace. Iâ€™ll also laud the activities of the civilian JTF who are unarmed and unpaid, and yet risk their lives daily in the quest for peace.â€™â€™