2015: PDP must win at least 23 states - Jonathan

By The Citizen

President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday declared that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) must win at least 23 states during the 2015 general elections,

Speaking during the 61st National Executive Committee meeting, the President recalled that there was a time  the PDP  was in control of more than 23 states, but regretted that the party had  lost some of them.

Challenging members to ensure that the number of states in control of the party did not go below the present 23,   he said he was happy about the formation of the PDP Governors' Forum.

He  said the forum was put in place to put a stop to the decline in the party's fortune and   to galvanise the interests of the party before its members went  for any meeting, like that of  the NGF.

'One  thing I have to appreciate the party and especially the PDP governors is the formation of the PDPGF.  It has really helped to stabilise the polity,' Jonathan noted.

He added, 'Governor Godswill Akpabio, (who) spoke   first  said it all;  that at the beginning, there was no need for PDPGF but now that we have reduced in number to 23, definitely, this should be the least.

'We cannot shrink below this level. We must build up. So, looking at the number of PDP governors, it becomes very clear that they  need  to have their own thing because we have realised that governors of other political parties used to meet before coming for NGF  meetings.

'But PDP being the elephant among them did not really bother much. But over the period, we have realised that there is the need for them to also meet because politics is politics. Politics is a game of interest.'

The President also  advised  against defying the   Independent National Electoral Commission's  ban on  any form  of politicking for now.

Urging Nigerians  to commend the PDP for the  stability in the polity, Jonathan   hinged the deluge of criticism facing the party on its size.

He added that it would be better to have two parties  in the country   in order to stabilise the polity more.

His words:  'One good thing that Nigerians should commend the PDP  for now is  that the evolution of political parties  has made the polity to be more   stable.

'Before, when elections were coming, you would be  hearing about new parties being formed and at a time, the ballot paper was becoming too long; INEC was finding a way of deregistering parties.

'Because PDP has come on very strong, they (opposition parties) have realised that what they need to do is not forming new parties but   coming together. So, we are helping to stabilise the polity.

'We will encourage them to come together more. We want a situation where it is PDP versus another party. In that case, the polity will be more stable. Even our members will be more loyal to the party because  they will have nowhere to go.'

The President said he was not happy with communal conflicts and ethnic cleansing in  Nigeria, adding that there was a difference between the activities of   Boko Haram  and those involved in communal killings.

He said, 'People leaving together must have disagreements. But this idea of youths   carrying  weapons   and killing  massively like what happened in Zamfara State recently  has  nothing to do with Boko Haram.

'But because Boko Haram is an issue, whenever somebody is killed, everybody says it is Boko Haram. What happened in Zamfara State has nothing to do with Boko Haram.

'This ethnic rivalry is becoming embarrassing. Government cannot continue to sit down and allow ethnic rivalry between communities or  between different ethnic groups  to continue.'

During the meeting, Tukur  appealed to members of the party to treat  Jonathan with respect and dignity because he  is  the symbol of the county.

He said everywhere across the globe, Presidents are treated with dignity and respect and wondered why Jonathan   was not being treated like that in Nigeria.

He said, 'Ample evidence within the territory of democracy have shown that democratically-elected Presidents are symbol of every nation.

'Here in Nigeria, President  Jonathan  is our symbols. He must therefore be respected and treated with dignity.

'Undermining the leader for no just reasons can nowhere bring us good results. This observation is necessary to remind PDP members that we owe ourselves a duty to protect, project and support our President to leave a lasting legacy for Nigerians.'

Tukur  was able to survive the gale of resignation that happened among the members of the NWC  of the party in Abuja on Thursday. During the meeting there was no call by any member of the NWC  for either his resignation or removal.

Eight members of the 12-member NWC resigned their appointments.

At Wadata Plaza, the national chairman, who wore  a white Babariga (flowing gown) and  a  cap to match,     asked  journalists   to be happy.

'When you see your father, you are happy. Aren't you happy seeing me in your midst?' he asked as he moved round the compound greeting people.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, in a statement, said the NEC    passed a vote of confidence   in his boss.

Abati said in passing the vote, NEC members said it was evident that Nigeria had made significant progress in many sectors under Jonathan's leadership.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, a former Minister of Information, who is also the Chairman of the Planning Committee for the Special Convention, Prof. Jerry Gana, said an interim committee had been set up to work with the remaining members of the NWC.

Those he listed included Chibudum Nwuche (Acting Deputy National Chairman); Dr. Remi Akintoye (Acting National Secretary); Sen. Emma Agboti (Acting Deputy National Secretary), Yusuf Abubakar (Acting National Organising Secretary); Tony Okeke (Acting National Publicity Secretary); Simon Jok (Acting National Legal Adviser); Mohammed Sa'ad (Acting National Youth Leader); and Oyibo Nwaneri (Acting Woman Leader).

Gana also said that the  officers would remain in office until the conduct of the  July 20  special convention, where  elections would be properly conducted to fill  vacant offices in the NWC.

But he said delegates who were part of the 2012 national convention would be the ones to elect the new officers.

He also revealed that zonal congress would be held in the South-West on July 11.

On the number of those in the Special Convention Planning Committee, Gana said he would be assisted by Governor   Akpabio, who would serve as his deputy while Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, would serve as the secretary.

Apart from two representatives from each of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, five governors are also in the committee.

The governors are Theodore  Orji (Abia); Shehu Shema (Katsina), Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta); and Isa Yuguda(Bauchi).

Also in the committee is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Pius Anyim and the Political Adviser to the President, Mr. Ahmed Gulak.

Twenty seven other people were also listed as members of the committee.

The Governor of Rivers State, who is also the Chairman of the NGF , Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, was not at the meeting due to the suspension slammed on him by the party.