ABUJA - President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, cried out over what he described as the lynch-mob mentality of the political opposition, who he claimed, was determined to drown him and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, out of political relevance.
He also said that the security situation in the country changed his pre-election agenda.
In his opening remarks at the 60th National Executive Committee, NEC meeting of the PDP in Abuja, President Jonathan who absolved the insurgent Islamic group, Boko Haram from blame in the recent spate of killings on the Plateau said the government had decided to refocus its pre-election agenda of job creation in favour of security enhancement.
Yesterday’s NEC meeting attended by 14 PDP governors was the first after the recent Edo State governorship election where the party was soundly defeated by the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. The erstwhile chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, who was a normal sight at the party’s NEC’s was unusually absent at the meeting during which the party repledged a vote of confidence on President Jonathan and the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
Noting what he described as the increasing gang-up by the opposition against the PDP, President Jonathan noted that the opposition was now more determined than ever to paint the PDP bad whether it was a contest for a council seat or the presidency.
Giving reasons for the administration’s decision to refocus its pre-election agenda of job creation towards security, President Jonathan said that ensuring food security as well as create job for the people would not be feasible as a man must be first alive for him to “talk about job or food.”
He as such disclosed that from the next NEC meeting that government functionaries would be brought to brief members of NEC on government’s plans and policies. He said that the briefing would start with the National Security Adviser, NSA, retd. Col. Sambo Dasuki, and would be followed by the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and other Ministers.
He said: “I assure you that we will continue to do our best, we will continue to represent the government and the party. People want to drown us and PDP and you see most of the statements being made by people, they know PDP is a very robust party and for you to now make sure people don’t vote for PDP irrespective of the election whether it is councillorship, chairmanship, House of Representatives, Senate, Governorship or President they will say PDP is bad. “PDP is bad because of the philosophy of people like Adolf Hitler which says if you say a wrong thing a thousand times, it becomes the right thing. We believe that if we do not have a party as robust as the PDP, probably, the republic would have collapsed. This is because we witnessed what happened in the first republic. Because we witnessed what happened in the first republic and we know the circumstances that led to the collapse of the first and second republics.
PDP stabilising democracy in the country—Jonathan
“We know what is happening in other African countries. If the ruling party over intimidates and over imposes, using the weight of the federal government and the citizens revolt, it weakens the political system and creates confusion and instability. But the PDP, though we control the federal government, we operate a system that the opposition even flies higher than us. They abuse us more, but we allow it. And it is the PDP that is handling the affairs of the country that is stabilizing the democracy in the country.”
Noting the government’s change of agenda from the pre-election focus on jobs towards security enhancement, he said: “During our campaign, our emphasis was on job creation, power, but now what worries us more is security because you must even be alive before you eat food. So, if you are not safe, you can’t even think about hunger because a dead person does not eat food. With the situation of things now in the country, the most serious issue in the country is security. I will not give a comprehensive report here, but we will do that some other time. We have talked about food security but we you can’t have food without personal security.”
President Jonathan also reiterated the need for members of the party to work together by reducing friction in the party, adding that most of the states the PDP lost followed some irreconcilable differences among members hence it has become imperative for the overhauling of bodies of the party like the Caucus and Board of Trustees, BoT.
Tukur cautions against struggles for succession
Earlier, the PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur had warned members of the party against struggle for succession, adding, “power acquisitions and struggles for succession within the PDP has become a source of worry as a result of deliberate strangulation of the party’s constitution to suit some personal agenda.”
Also yesterday, the Secretary, Board of Trustees, BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin, told journalists that members of the Board at its meeting, approved the resignation of former fhairman and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, just as he stressed that his replacement will not emerge until members of the board looked at the new constitution of the party.
Addressing journalists at the end of the meeting, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, said the NEC passed a vote of confidence on President Jonathan because of his leadership style especially as it concerns the accommodation of alternative views.
He said: “NEC received draft copies of the 2012 amended Constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party. The meeting resolved to allow members study the document carefully and make notes on typographical errors and omissions for final adoption at the next NEC meeting. The meeting clarified that this is not another constitution review exercise but an effort to perfect the document in line with the amendments approved at the March 24 national convention.
“NEC condoled the Government and people of Rivers State over the tragic loss of lives in the recent fire disaster in Ahoada. NEC also condoled the Government and people of Plateau State over the death of Senator Gyang Dantong and Hon. Gyang Fulani as well as many others in recent disturbances in the state.
“NEC passed an emphatic vote of confidence on the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. The NEC put on record, Mr. President’s perfect understanding of the unabridged rights of the people to free electoral choice as the basis of democracy and good governance. Despite challenges, it is the unanimous view of NEC members that the President is right on course in the transformation of Nigeria.
Endorses Chairman’s agenda
“NEC also unanimously endorsed the National Chairman’s new agenda of Reconciliation, Reformation and Rebuilding of the party. NEC further passed a vote of confidence on the National Working Committee led by Alhaji Dr. Bamanga Tukur.
“Finally, NEC appealed to all aggrieved groups in the country to give peace a chance and embrace dialogue for the sake of our dear country. NEC condemned the wanton destruction of lives and property in recent incidents and appealed to law enforcement agencies to redouble their efforts in stemming this ugly trend.”
In attendance at the meeting yesterday were:
President Goodluck Jonathan, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark, Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha, former Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu, former PDP National Chairmen, Senator Barnabas Gemade, Ahmadi Ali, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, Bello Haliru Mohammed. Former deputy national chairman, Shauibu Oyedokun; Senate leader Victor Ndoma-Egba; Deputy leader, Abdul Ningi; Secretary, BoT, Senator Walid Jibrin; Hassan Adamu; Senator Mohammed Magoro; Ebenezer Babatope; Josephine Anenih; Professor Stella Ato; Governors of Rivers, Cross River; Ebonyi; Plateau; Benue: Enugu: Kebbi: Bauchi; Bayelsa; Abia; Gombe, Benue, Akwa Ibom and Kano. Also present were deputy-governors of Kwara; Taraba; Kaduna; Niger and Jigawa.