I am delighted to be here today at the National Convention of our great party – the Peoples Democratic Party.
Let me start by commending members of our great party across the country and those committed members in the Diaspora, for their hardwork, commitment and passion towards building our party.
I commend also the outgoing Caretaker Committee members led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, for their leadership and doggedness in steadying and steering the craft of our party to a solid footing. Let me on behalf of you all, offer our sincere appreciation to them for providing energetic and purposeful leadership at a very critical period in our party’s history. We salute their courage and dedication.
I also appreciate our relentless Governors, the Board of Trustees, National Assembly caucuses, former Governors, the ex-Ministers’ Forum, our teeming youths and women. I commend all of you for your steadfastness and immeasurable contributions to the sustenance of this great party.
I thank the Convention Planning Committee members, led by Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, for their determination in putting together this wonderful Convention. I also congratulate all our delegates for their commitment and thank God for their successful trip to the convention.
I wish to also pay tribute to the founding fathers of the PDP and all those who have laboured so hard over the years to restore peace in our party and in our nation.
Let me also use this opportunity to express my grief over the passing on of former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme who was a founding member of our party. I also note with sadness the kidnap of the Plateau State chairman of our party, Damishi Sango, who I understand, was abducted alongside two others, on his way to Abuja to attend this convention. I urge the police to ensure their release and the freedom for all others who are being held in captivity, by the perpetrators of this unspeakable crime.
As Nigeria’s foremost and largest political party, I believe that the PDP will remain at the forefront of leadership by example. And I urge all members to remain committed, and to be prepared to work for the interest of our party and the country.
Over the years, PDP has remained focused and resilient in building a strong democratic culture, despite the challenges we had faced. We have struggled to steady the ship and have regained enough composure to effectively become a strong voice of opposition, and resume the contest to return to office.
There is no doubt that the PDP has again become the reference point as the nation moves close to another election season. Even those who had earlier written us off, can now attest to the fact that we have become resolute in growing our spread and strength. Many who left are already returning to our fold. Like a loving father, PDP is welcoming them all back with open arms. We are one family, and what we feel is that satisfying sensation and renewed trust that follow family reunions.
We should not forget that ours is a party with an enviable history and good records. Democracy is built on a tradition of established parties and principles. We have given Nigeria’s democracy a good push because we have been consistent in standing on our grounds and upholding our name, for almost two decades. We have never changed our name or our identity since the return of democracy in 1999.
We should always celebrate the fact that the PDP introduced key policies that improved governance, enhanced welfare, boosted and stabilized the economy of our great country, and above all, gave our people hope.
It is worth noting that this particular convention, by the number of candidates and robustness of the campaigns, has been remarkably different from our past conventions. The campaigns have set new records in our democracy.
It was quite refreshing, exciting and commendable, the way candidates for various positions, toured all the states, to sell their promises to our members. Those campaigns shone like a burning flame that lit up the entire country, attracting the interest of majority of Nigerians.
This shows that our party, the PDP, remains quite vibrant and viable. It shows that Nigerians still look up to the PDP as that strong party with a divine role to play in the affairs of our nation.
It is true that in all elections, some people will emerge triumphant. However, for us in the PDP, today’s convention will not produce winners and losers, because all those who are contesting are all eminently qualified for their positions of choice, and we are proud of them.
The reality is that some of them will emerge through this process as new leaders of the party. The new leaders are required to join hands with all others to strengthen and unite our great party, by always placing party interest above personal ambition.
I wish to remind all of us that as politicians, we are bound to have differences. It is important we manage our differences responsibly, with an eye on the larger interest, for our party and nation. I believe that after this convention, we will awaken the trust of Nigerians to return our party to its position of glory, take back power and lead the country to greatness, one more time.
We enjoin those who will henceforth be entrusted with the mantle of leadership to work hard to reposition our party for the pressing tasks ahead. We must continue to promote the tenets of free, fair and credible elections.
At the end of this Convention, I expect a stronger, more disciplined, more focused and more cohesive PDP; a PDP that will continue to organise free and fair elections to lead the way in internal democracy, a PDP that will be known for the high ethical standards of its members, a PDP that will remain a united family and a PDP that we can all be proud of.
All the efforts we have put into this Convention will only be meaningful if we continue to conduct ourselves in the most democratic manner, as well as, respect and support the results of the elections and the leaders that have emerged.
As I conclude this address, let me specially congratulate in advance everyone who will be at the apex of our party’s leadership for the next four years.
While I congratulate all delegates to this convention, I urge you to go back to your respective wards, communities and states to promote the ideals of our great party. Let it be known that our party has been born anew, committed to the best values of democracy.
Let it be known, in all nooks and crannies of our country, that the PDP is back to reclaim its rightful place in the affairs of our nation. As we have always done, we are ready to return Nigeria to the path of steady and robust economic growth, driven by sound sectoral reforms, infrastructural renewal, gender balance, youth entrepreneurial development and job creation
Finally, I wish you all successful deliberations at this convention.
God bless the People’s Democratic Party!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
I thank you all.