Abuja — President Goodluck Jonathan vowed Thursday to rally other leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to save the party, which is bedevilled by multifarious crises, from disintegrating.
The president, who spoke at the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja, lashed out at the opponents of the party who wish it to disintegrate, saying they would be disappointed.
Jonathan, in his remarks at the meeting, made against the backdrop of the various reconciliatory efforts to put the party in shape ahead of the 2015 general election, said the crises would not overwhelm the party as its strength lies in its ability to resolve members’ differences.
The president also said the strength of PDP as a political party lies in its ability to resolve its differences, whenever such differences occur.
The NEC meeting, which lasted 50 minutes, the shortest in the annals of the PDP, resolved to suspend tomorrow’s planned zonal congress of the party in the South-west, to allow more time to sort out the various lawsuits filed by aggrieved party members against its conduct.
Jonathan, who arrived at the PDP national secretariat at 2.42 pm for the NEC meeting, while acknowledging the challenges facing the party by the festering disagreements among its members, added that they were normal in party politics.
He said: “Yes in party politics, there may be disagreements and in all institutions even at the family level, there must be disagreements on issues. But the key thing that makes life go on is our ability to resolve our crisis.
“No matter the disagreements, no matter the interests, politics, they say, is a game of interests. We will resolve these differences amicably to make sure that every member of the party is happy. That is the area I commend the elders of the party via the committees set up by the national chairman for going round to see how some of these differences would be resolved at the state level.
“The chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) has been meeting various groups to make sure that we speak with one voice, and we will continue to speak with one voice. And those who continue to think that PDP cannot come together, that PDP cannot manage success, will be terribly disappointed.”
The president commended the party members and assured them that his administration would be based on the party manifesto, stating that no matter what anybody is saying, “things will be on ground for us for them (people) to compare what the PDP government is doing.”
He told the NEC members that the opponents of the PDP were worried whether the party would be able to manage its success, adding that they would be confused because PDP would manage its success well.
He attributed the increased tempo in political activities in the country to the intimidating credentials of the PDP and vowed that the presidency and PDP would not be intimidated by present political developments in the country such as the registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Jonathan explained that his administration through its transformation agenda, had embarked on programmes to make life better for the people. He said: “A number of things that Nigeria almost forgot about like railways, we are bringing them back. And I believe that by the time we move into early next year, things will become very obvious, so even those who doubt us will not have anything to say. We promise that we are going to do that with the assistance of the party.”
In his speech, PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, said the party would continue to grow irrespective of the challenges affecting it.
“The PDP as a party has continued to grow from strength to strength in spite of challenges. Our political adversaries have been shamed as our party is now more united than ever. The strength and success of our party lie in its ability to resolve its differences amicably in an atmosphere devoid of bitterness, rancour, acrimony and recrimination. This fact is undisputable and legendary,” Tukur said.
He urged party members to use PDP internal mechanism to resolve their differences. “Besides, there are internal organs and mechanisms for conflict resolution in our party. I encourage our members to explore these avenues in ventilating their grievances and to as much as possible avoid litigations, which make a mockery of our stand on peace and stability.
“My doors and indeed those of all our party leaders are wide open to all members of our great party. I run an open-door policy that furthers the principles of triple ‘R’ i.e. Reconciliation, Reformation and Rebuilding. We need peace and concord in our party. We cannot reach our destination in an atmosphere of bitterness and rivalry.
“I therefore call on all our party faithful and members across the country to sheathe their swords and enthrone enduring peace. I want to commend the National Reconciliation Committee for the good work it is doing and encourage our members to take their grievances to the committee or other organs of the party entrusted with the task of restoring peace in the party,” he said.
The NEC, by the end of the meeting, approved the special national convention scheduled for August 31 and suspended tomorrow’s South-west congress, pending when the court injunction against it would be lifted.
Addressing journalists after the NEC meeting, PDP acting National Publicity Secretary, Tony Okeke, said: “NEC unanimously approved and ratified 31 August, 2013 as the date for the special national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). NEC commended the Special Congresses and Convention Planning Committee for the efforts so far put in place in the preparation for the convention. “NEC acknowledged the service of a court injunction restraining the conduct of the South-west zonal congress earlier scheduled for Saturday, 24 of August, 2013. In line with our avowed disposition to uphold the rule of law and in deference to the court ruling, NEC unanimously approved the postponement of the South-west zonal congress.
Consequently, NEC directed the National Working Committee (NWC) to follow through the court process and when concluded, set a new date for the South-west zonal congress.”
THISDAY checks however revealed that contrary to an earlier plan, the consideration of the right of first refusal that will give automatic tickets to the president and governors of the party seeking a second term in office was shelved due to disagreement among members of the G.84 and state party chairmen.
It was gathered that some state party chairmen and ex-officio members advised that amending the PDP constitution at this moment to pave the way for automatic tickets for some elected officials would not be in the interest of the party, especially in the face of mounting opposition.
Some northern governors, led by Alhaji Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Dr. Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and Alhaji Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) were mobilised at the meeting to stop the bid to discuss automatic tickets for the president and the affected governors. “The consideration of the right of first refusal was dropped at the last minute,” a source said.