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Despite Security Challenges, Nigeria'll Remain Strong, Says Anenih

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA, May 28, (THEWILL) â€' The chairman of the Board of Trustees of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Tony Anenih, said Wednesday that despite the security challenges occasioned by the scourge of terrorism, Nigeria remains stronger that it has ever been.

Sounding confident, he added that in spite of the predictions of doom about Nigeria, the ruling party was looking beyond 2015 and even 2019 in its efforts to faithfully sustain a stable, functional and democratic nation.

Anenih made the declaration in a statement titled: 'Nigeria is stronger than it has even been' issued in Abuja to commemorate 15 years of uninterrupted Fourth Republic Democracy. He said the PDP-led Federal Government under President Goodluck Jonathan has been upholding the sanctity of unfettered democratic interaction and expression in the country since stepping in the saddle.

Anenih said in the statement, 'May 29, 2014 marks 15 years since Nigeria returned to democracy. I congratulate all Nigerians on this important occasion, especially since our nation is now well into her longest running democratic dispensation since independence in 1960.

'This year's Democracy Day falls within a period when, arising from the scourge of terrorism, some people question the strength of our democracy and unity. Without hesitation, I assure all Nigerians that, despite the challenges we are facing today, Nigeria is stronger than it has ever been.'

He stated further: 'Let me express how grateful we, in the Peoples Democratic Party, are to our fellow compatriots that they have entrusted our great party with steering the ship of state since our nation's return to democracy in 1999. It has been a great privilege and a momentous undertaking.

'And though as with all human endeavours we have had differences with our fellow citizens on the other side of the political divide, our on-going democratic journey is proof that the PDP continues to faithfully discharge its foremost duty to our country, which is sustaining a stable, functional and democratic State.

'Indeed, in its 15 years at the helm of affairs of our great nation, the PDP has created an atmosphere that allows total freedom of expression, dissent and the greatest level of inclusive political participation ever recorded in our country. A case in point is that never before has Nigeria seen the high number of women in senior elective and appointive positions as obtains today under the PDP's leadership.

'Moreover, it is to the credit of the President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan-led PDP government that this ambience of democratic freedom has encouraged the most combative opposition rhetoric ever experienced in Nigeria's history. President Jonathan has also demonstrated respect for the rule of law by his non-interference in judicial, legislative and electoral matters.

'Ironically, our liberal and exceptionally tolerant President has been vilified for promoting and protecting the very democratic freedoms that others are using unfairly against the government.

'Be that as it may, certain that we are on the side of what is right by upholding the sanctity of unfettered democratic interaction and expression in our country, the PDP is looking beyond 2015 and even 2019 when the Fourth Republic will be twenty years old.'

According to Anenih, 'The reason for our confidence stems from the fact that the PDP has always been the party of the people, for the people and by the people. Furthermore, our unequalled experience in successfully piloting the affairs of State is what ensured that, for the first time in the course of Nigeria's history, under the PDP we witnessed the smooth transfer of power from one civilian president to another; and the successful constitutional succession politics after the unfortunate and untimely death of our dear President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua in office.

'In addition, the PDP has been responsible for the strategic restructuring of a largely state-run economy to a free-market economy, thereby engendering greater human development, free enterprise and irreversible economic expansion. It is important to note that pursuing policies that are necessary for inclusive economic growth has further guaranteed our political and democratic stability.

'Besides, the rebased Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures for 2013, which showed an 89 percent increase in the estimated size of Nigeria's economy, making it the top economy in Africa, has also seen our debt-to-GDP-ratio, shrink to 11 per cent. In the past four years, Nigeria has remained the choice destination for Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in Africa.

'As has been widely noted, the success of the World Economic Forum on Africa (WEFA) held recently in Abuja is an affirmation from the international community that Nigeria's democracy is on a firm footing despite security challenges.

'Lest we forget, before the advent of the first PDP government in 1999, official statistics placed the number of telephone lines in Nigeria at just about 500,000. Today, the Nigerian Communications Commission reports that there are well over 120 million active telephone lines in Nigeria. The benefits and the multiplier effects to our economy are phenomenal.

'I would like to point out that in the PDP we are continually strengthening the mechanism for internal democracy and would urge all other parties to also do the same.

'Finally, as we mark the anniversary of our return to Democracy, all Nigerians must stand together against the forces that seek to endanger our freedoms, unity and security.'