ABUJA FEBRUARY 14, 2017 – Former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday endorsed the plan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to seek alliance with other partie. Jonathan, who gave the endorsement while receiving the members of the PDP Strategy Review and Inter Party Committee, who visited him in Abuja, said that the outcome of the last general election was a minor setback, which has not diminished the party.
The committee, led by Prof. Jerry Gana, also presented its report to two former founding members of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and Chief Tony Anenih.
Jonathan, while commending the committee on the outcome of the work, said: “I am among the persons who believe that for a nation to grow, the institutions must be very strong,” while responding to a complaint against Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under this administration.
According to the ex-president, “There is no way a nation will grow with weak institutions because everything about politics is about the collective, the people, not individuals. And as long you are interested in the people, you are interested in the growth of the society and development of the nation. The only thing that will make this possible is that the institutions must be strong.”
“A fresh case in point is that of the U.S President Donald Trump, who issued executive orders, which the court said no, you couldn’t do this and that was it. This is the strength of institutions.”
Speaking on the fate of the party ahead of 2019 poll, he said: “Irrespective of what happened in 2015 general elections, which we lost, it hasn’t diminished PDP. Losing the presidency is temporary. We would be able to get that position back as long as we are able to get our acts together. I am happy that you people are working towards that.
Jonathan canvassed the use of statutory delegates for the party’s primaries to check imposition of candidates. “Direct primaries is the ultimate. It is the best way of choosing candidates. The greatest problem society has is how to manage direct primaries. It means if you want to elect the president or governor, you don’t need to bring everybody to one place. Voting could take place at ward level, local government to the national.
“The best way to stop imposition of candidates is to make sure that people don’t control the delegates. If we go by delegates’ election, it will be easy to manage. At least 70 per cent of the delegates should not be under the control of anybody.
“I will suggest that if you cannot do direct primaries, let us make sure that we increase the number of statutory delegates, people who have held offices in the party at different levels, even if it is at the level of councillors,” the former president suggested.
Tukur expressed happiness that the PDP is rebranding and trying to return to power genuinely. He maintained that there is no place in the country you do not find a member of the party, urging the Jerry Gana Committee not to be deterred in its efforts to restore the glory of the party.
Gana alleged that the INEC had become a tool in the hands of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He disclosed that the PDP is set to organise an international summit on the defence of human rights.
Addressing Jonathan, he said: “Under your watch, we make bold to say that no one was imprisoned for freely expressing his views. You leaders were abused everyday and no one was incarcerated because of that. Regrettably now, basic human rights are being eroded daily.”
Anenih, on his part, blamed the problem of the party on selfishness among some party leaders.