Former President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday broke his silence on the internal crisis rocking his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), declaring that despite the party’s defeat in the 2015 general election, the opposition party remains the biggest and strongest party in Nigeria.
He further declared the party will bounce back in 2019, stressing that the outcome of the last general election was a minor setback which didn’t diminish the party.
The former president, however, advocated the strengthening of institutions in the country, while responding to a complaint over the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under this administration.
He maintained that no country can grow and develop without strong institutions.
Jonathan made these remarks while receiving a delegation of the PDP strategy review and Inter party committee who visited him at his private residence in Abuja to present a copy of their report to him.
Besides Jonathan, the strategy committee led by Prof. Jerry Gana, also presented their report to two former founding members of the party, namely former chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and Chief Tony Anenih, despite their resignation from partisan politics.
Tukur, also noted that PDP remains the largest party far beyond the shores of Nigeria. He lambasted those defecting to other political parties on a perceived promise of better future, likening them to those running to Europe for a better future that is not true.
Anenih, on his part, blamed selfishness among some party leaders for the state of the party today. He said the party could have gone beyond its present status but for the selfishness among some party leaders.
He, however, charged the party leadership to engage in constructive criticism.
But Jonathan, while commending the party’s leadership and 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, just like you mentioned about INEC.
“There is no way a nation will grow with weak institutions because everything about politics is about the people, not about the individual.
“And as long you are interested in the people, you are interested in growth of the society, the development of the nation. The only thing that will make impossible is that the institutions must be strong.”
Continuing, the former president noted that: “You see as powerful as America (is), look at President Donald Trump’s decision and the court said ‘no you can do this’ and of course they have to shoot down that one to move further. That is the strength of an institution. That is the only way individuals could be regulated so that you can grow.”
Speaking about the fate of his party ahead of 2019, he said: “PDP is still the biggest and the strongest party. Irrespective of what happened in the 2015 general elections… yes we lost the presidential election but that didn’t diminish us. Every other party still knows that PDP is a leading party.
“Losing the presidency is something temporary. We should be able to get that position back as long as we are able to get our act together. I am happy that you people are working towards that.”
Jonathan advocated the use of more statutory delegates for the party’s primaries to check imposition of candidates, saying: “Direct primaries is the ultimate, it is the best way of selecting candidates but the greatest problem society has is how to manage direct primaries.
“It means if you want to elect president or governor, you cannot bring everybody to one place. It means that voting will take place from ward level or local government level and whatever and a party like PDP where there is no polling units where we don’t have a true members.
“The best way to stop imposition is to make sure that people don’t control the delegates. If we go by delegate election, it will be easiest to manage. How to select delegate is that at least 70 per cent of the delegates should not be under the control of anybody.
“I will say 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 the level of councilors.”
The former president also endorsed the alliance-talks between PDP and other political parties.