"Nigerian youths... the 2015 poll is about the young people," Jonathan told thousands of supporters of his ruling People's Democratic Party.
"You either vote for Nigeria's peace and stability and for youths to be relevant, or you vote for irrelevance," he asserted.
He said his government had built 12 universities and more schools than any other administration in Nigeria's history.
Clad in a white kaftan with traditional brown Yoruba cap and a muffler bearing the ruling party's green-white-red colors, Jonathan led party chieftains in flagging off the electoral campaign.
Party supporters, members and onlookers were thoroughly frisked by security agents before being allowed into Tafawa Balewa Square, the venue of the mega-rally.
The rally brought human and vehicular traffic to a halt in much of Lagos, considered a stronghold of the opposition All Progressive Congress.
Jonathan promised the audience to address "insecurity, corruption and whether we have been fighting corruption and weak governance."
"These are the issues I will address throughout the campaign; you can judge the candidates based on this," he said.
Nigeria is set for a landmark election on Feb. 14 in which Jonathan, a Christian from the southern oil-rich Bayelsa state, will take on opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler.
Jonathan was first elected president in 2011, although he had served as acting president since 2010, when the former president, Umaru Yar'Adua, died following a protracted Illness.
Jonathan had been Yar'Adua's deputy. Both men were elected in 2007.
This year's presidential race is expected to be one of the hardest fought in Nigeria's history.
Tension has mounted ahead of the poll, with schools expected to close in most parts of the northern region due to fears of possible violence.
President Jonathan did not miss the opportunity to bash the opposition.
"Those who say they want to take power have been lying all over the world," he told supporters. "They have been painting all pictures they cannot defend."
Jonathan referenced allegations by the secret police apparatus that the opposition was counterfeiting voter registration cards and hacking into the national electoral body's databases.
On Wednesday, a police spokesman said secret police had raided an opposition headquarters in Lagos on November 22 and discovered plans to hack the database of the Independent National Election Commission.
But the opposition dismissed the accusations as a "plot" – orchestrated in collusion with the ruling party – to distract the party from its ongoing electoral campaigns.
The opposition and the secret police have traded accusations since November, with the ruling party claiming the raid had confirmed that the opposition was up to no good ahead of the poll.