Lawan gave the advice in his remarks at the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation’s policy dialogue with the theme: “Democracy and unity of state.’’
He also urged leaders to emulate former President Goodluck Jonathan and be open to all manner of people, especially those that they led and not give room for suspicions.
“When political leaders allow for suspicion between and among themselves, the outcome is that those at the grassroots or the ethnic nationalities will behave the same way,’’ he said.
Lawan said what Nigerians needed was leadership that would give sense of belonging to the people and provide everything within the constraints of resources.
He described Jonathan as a leader that believed in the unity, progress and development of not just Nigeria, but of the entire African continent.
He stressed that Jonathan had been demonstrating the belief even after he left office as Nigeria’s president.
Addressing the former president, Lawan said: “there are many of us here who are not of the PDP; that, to me, is a clear testimony of one fact that you are a unifier.
“We believe that you mean well for this country and it is so. Those who believe in that will always identify with you and your course.
“The political class as far as I am concerned is a clan. It doesn’t matter which political party you belong to.
“What is important is that we continue to unite, engage to make this country better.
“It doesn’t matter who is in office because we have to have a country in the first place before elections would be conducted.’’
Lawan urged political leaders, especially those who had left office to emulate the good gesture of Jonathan by being selfless and honest.
He said that Jonathan had demonstrated that Nigeria could be great if the political class decided to be selfless and honest.
“We can achieve that if we continue to have this kind of leadership; whether in office or out of office.
“We have that responsibility; that obligation to give Nigerians the sense of belonging. Citizens, wherever they are; whatever they are and wherever they are choose to be in this country,” Lawan said.
In his remarks, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, urged participants at the dialogue to interrogate every aspect of Africa’s democracy and proffer meaningful solutions.
Mustapha commended the Foundation for organising the dialogue.
He expressed the belief that with discussions on the course and the trajectory on the growth of Africa at the dialogue, African countries would develop new ways of addressing issues.
He said if African nations desired progress, “the operators of the institutions that facilitate the practice of democracy must be strengthened, deepened and be given an opportunity to ventilate.’’
Mustapha also commended Jonathan for being a trailblazer by the purposeful leadership he provided at a time of need in the largest democracy on the African continent.