By Romanus Ugwu, Ndubuisi Orji and Obi Okwe, Abuja
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the Peoples Democratic Party ((PDP) is back to reclaim its place in the politics of the country.
Jonathan stated this in Abuja yesterday while speaking at a Special Non-Elective Convention of the PDP.
The former president paid glowing tributes to leaders of the party who worked tirelessly to resolve the leadership crisis that rocked the PDP for 14 months. He said the fate that befell the opposition party after he lost the 2015 general election, was not peculiar to it. Jonathan said the challenges the PDP went through after the 2015 general election is same with the experiences of ruling parties who lose election in other parts of the world.
“As a party that heralded Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, the PDP had become so accustomed to success in its 16 years in power that the first time our fortunes changed at the polls, it was obvious that the party would suffer the aftershocks of the loss.
It was indeed a most trying period for us as a political party.
“ However, it is not an experience that is peculiar to us. This is because all over the world, any party that loses election at the centre as we did, will first of all, struggle to hold together, before regaining its composure to effectively present the strong voice of the opposition, and resume the contestation to return to office.
“But we thank God that the worst is over for our party. It is to His grace that we were able to emerge from this unsavoury experience, from which some political parties in other emerging democracies hardly recover, to become even stronger, within a short period of time,” he said.
However, Jonathan expressed delight that the worst was over for the PDP, noting that with the party crisis over, the opposition party is prepared to regain power in 2019, so as to lead the country back to an era of prosperity.
He said: “Let it be known, in all nooks and crannies of our country, that the PDP is back to claim its rightful place in the affairs of the nation.
As we have always done, we are ready to return Nigeria to the path of unity, peace and prosperity.
“The PDP is indeed back to reclaim its prime position as the party to lead Nigeria to greatness. As a human institution we cannot claim perfection, but obviously as a political party, our accomplishments as at 2015, far outweigh our shortfalls.”
He recalled that during 16 years of the PDP administration, the country recorded giant strides in different sectors of the economy.
The PDP administrations from 1999 to 2015 introduced key policies that improved governance, enhanced welfare, boosted and stabilized the economy of the country and gave Nigerians hope.
Besides, he said elections conducted under the PDP administration were accepted globally as having met international standards in terms of being free, fair and credible.
His words: “This wouldn’t have been possible if our government did not reform the electoral and political process, by giving the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the autonomy it requires, to enable it conduct free and fair elections.
“On the economic front, we provided focused leadership, through institutional and sectoral reforms which impacted positively on the fundamentals for growth, especially in the last four years of our time in power. The effect was that we tamed inflation at a single digit, maintained price stability, grew the economy to become the largest in Africa with a GDP of over half a trillion US dollars, and the number one foreign direct investment destination on the continent.
“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.
“We can all recall that our agricultural transformation agenda rapidly transformed key agricultural value chains, boosted local production, and created a new generation of young commercial farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs we proudly identified as Nagropreneurs. One very remarkable achievement of the reform we introduced was that it ended decades of fertiliser sector corruption through electronic wallet system. Since then, its success has continued to resonate outside our shores.
The programme is not only being scaled up by the African Development Bank, but is already being replicated in close to 20 African countries.
“Our approach to fighting corruption may not have plugged all the leaks in the system; in fact, no nation has ever been successful in eradicating the cankerworm of corruption.
“ But we went about it in a sustainable and measurable manner, by, among other measures, creating institutional tools like bank verification number (BVN), the treasury single account (TSA) designed to block leakages, as well as the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS), which eliminated tens of thousands of ghost workers, during our time.”(sunday sun)
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