By Chibuzo Ukaibe, Abuja
Former President Goodluck Jonathan declared yesterday that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is ready to take over power at the center in 2019, noting that the party cannot be intimidated.
Jonathan, who spoke at the non-elective convention of the PDP, said despite its recent momentous crisis, the party remains the largest party in Nigeria.
He further dispelled claims that the economy would have collapsed if the PDP remained in government beyond 2015, saying his administration had a sound economic team in place managing the economy.
However, speaking at the event, the former president hailed the PDP for surviving its troubling moment adding most ruling parties across Africa find it hard to make a rebound within a short time after losing elections.
Jonathan asked PDP members to beat their chest and be proud of themselves because they were able to come out of this within two years and are very ready for 2019.
He said, “I believe in PDP. Even God believes in PDP. I was discussing with the national chairman that this is August 12 and there is no rain. I want us to celebrate PDP. Nobody should intimidate the PDP.
“We are ready to have more members of the House of Representatives. We are ready to have more Senators, we are ready to have more governors and we are ready to take over the presidency.
“Let me charge all of you to carry the message to your wards and communities. Tell them loud and clear that PDP is back and it will come so that there will be no poverty again.
“PDP should be proud of itself and come out. PDP is very ready for 2019. PDP is still the largest party in Nigeria. PDP is back to reclaim its prime position to lead Nigeria to its rightful position.”
He however noted that, while the party is not perfect, its accomplishments are there for all to see.
Speaking on the achievements of the party while in power, he noted that the 2011 and 2015 general elections were accepted globally because they met global standard.
He said “I learnt that some people said that if PDP had remained in power beyond 2015, the economy would have performed worse. This couldn’t have been the case, because we had a sound economic team in place managing the economy.
“Let us not forget that the great flood of 2012 was a major calamity that damaged homes and farmlands on the plains of River Niger and Benue. But despite the devastating effect of this natural disaster, there was no food shortage or arbitrary increase in prices because of what we were able to accomplish with our Agriculture Transformation Agenda, which considerably boosted food production.
“If we say that we rekindled hope in our people and regained international goodwill, it is because we pursued a number of policies and programmes that were not only richly rewarding for our people, but were also being copied by many countries across the globe, a few of which I will mention here.”
On his part, the national chairman of the party, Sen Makarfi, said they want President Buhari to return to complete his tenure so that the PDP can defeat him in 2019.
Makarfi who described the outcome of yesterday’s event as an affirmation that PDP is a government in waiting, added that PDP is a political family and not an alliance.
He added that the party is prepared to reclaim power because it has seen it all, just as he decried hunger and joblessness in the country, lamenting that tuition fees had been hiked
He assured that the PDP will consider how to introduce student loan scheme and make sure that security is enhanced, adding that “we will work with everybody to restore Nigeria.”
Chairman of the convention planing committee and Delta State governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa, called for a paradigm shift in the party leadership style, saying “too often, we have demanded service and worship from the very people we have been called to serve.
“That must change. We need leaders, sincere leaders, strong leaders who understand that power is held in trust for the people and, therefore, must be administered for their good and advancement”, he added.
On his part, chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Ayo Fayose, said the APC-led administration lacks capacity to govern the country, adding that Nigerians made a mistake by voting for the ruling party.
Speaking for former governors of the party, former governor of Kano State, Ibrahim Shekarau, urged members to Join hands with caretaker committee to lead the party to victory in 2019.
He assured that the PDP is determined to restore the history of Nigeria in line with the democratic process.
Senate Sen Akpabio who spoke for the Senate Caucus of the party said Nigeria cannot afford to disintegrate. “We won’t allow or tolerate any group
The non-elective convention, which is the highest decision making body of the party, extended the tenure of Sen Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee (NCC) by four months.
PDP explained that the decision to extend the tenure of the Makarfi-led committee till December is to enable it organise the much anticipated elective national convention.
The extension was in the light of the expiration of the tenure of the Ahmed Makarfi-led committee. Specifically, the tenure of the committee would have ended on August 16, 2017.
In the same vein, it dissolved the executive committees at all levels in seven states namely Lagos, Adamawa, Borno, Osun, Ogun, Kebbi and Kwara, and constituted caretaker committees in the affected states.
It further ratified the dissolution of all factional executive committees in Anambra State at all levels and setting up of caretaker committees.
The convention also ratified all concluded congresses in states and the six geopolitical zones.
According to the PDP constitution, 2012 (as amended), national convention is the highest decision making organ of the party.
The National Caretaker Committee was constituted at the Port Harcourt National Convention on May 2016 with an initial tenure of three months. However, the tenure was extended for one year in August 2016.
Apart from Jonathan, ex-Vice President Namadi Sambo, 11 PDP governors, former ministers and former governors attended the event.
But the recently sacked national chairman of the party, Ali Modu-Sheriff, and some of his loyalists, including former national secretary, Prof Wale Oladipo, Dr Cairo Ojougboh and Sen Buruji Kashamu were conspicuously absent.
Other dignitaries at the events were Prof. Rufai Ahmed Alkali; Prof. Jerry Gana; Peter obi; Babangida Aliyu; Vincent Ogbulafor; Tom Ikimi; Emmanuel Iwunayanwu; Alhaji Bello Haliru; Sen David Mark; Uche Secondus; Sule Lamido among others.