Saturday, April 19, 2014

100 opposition parties can’t defeat PDP, Patience Jonathan boasts

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First Lady, Patience Jonathan

Wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, seems to be gradually getting her groove back.
Months after a debilitating illness pushed her to the background, Mrs Jonathan bounced back with a new spring Thursday, warning opposition parties in the country that their ongoing efforts to gang up to dethrone the ruling Peoples Democratic Party in 2015 would be fruitless.

Speaking at the launch of the PDP Women in Power Calendar, in Abuja, Mrs Jonathan said 100 political parties put together would not be able to defeat the PDP in the 2015 general election.

Saying the ruling party remains the most potent political platform in the country, she said only the party enjoyed appeal among women in the country having  allocated 35 per cent of political offices to women.

The First Lady also  defended the decision by the FCTA to undertake the construction of the African First Ladies Peace Mission in Abuja.

She said: “The building of the mission would generate income for market women who would bring in their wares to sell when the project is completed.

“It will provide employment for the youth and generate income for the country because there’ll be various businesses and hotels in it.’’

The project, which has generated controversy in the 2013 budget, will be undertaken at an estimated cost of N4 billion.

The president’s wife urged the women to stand united by rebuffing  any attempt to sow seeds of discord among them.

“The FCTA built the UN and the ECOWAS buildings. This is a project that will benefit all African women. I heard women carried placards to protest, we shouldn’t allow ourselves to be used against projects that will be beneficial to us.

“It is a rotational presidency, after three years, another first lady will take over.

“We go to Addis Ababa twice  a year for a First Ladies Summit on Aids. This mission house is a centre to promote peace, unity and integration among African countries.’’

Mrs Jonathan said that just as past first ladies left legacies for the Nigerian women, the mission too would benefit generations of women to come.

“We remember late Maryam Babangida today who started awareness for women to participate in politics and the National Centre for Women Development she built during her reign. We also appreciate Hajiya Maryam Abacha who built the National Hospital.

“These are legacies that are beneficial to our women. Likewise the mission, it is not my NGO and I can’t leave with it after my husband’s tenure.’’

The first lady urged women to “seek higher elective positions. Its not deputy governorship that is reserved for us, we can aspire to be governors, more senators and one day, the president”.

“If we stand together, we can decide the pace of this country. Let’s be united in our decisions and support one another during the forthcoming elections by relying heavily on our numbers.’’

NAN reports that more than N120 million was raised during the programme which organisers say would be used to sponsor women aspirants in 2015.

The calendar features the first lady, the vice-president’s wife, ministers, legislators, deputy governors and all women in position of authority in Nigeria.

Also speaking at the event, the PDP  Women Leader, Kema Chikwe, expressed confidence in the ability of a President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration in 2015 to guarantee more elective positions for Nigerian women.

“We are confident that when President Jonathan returns in 2015, women would be talking about 50 per cent, no longer 35 per cent affirmative action.

“As we give him unequivocal, undiluted, unreserved support and as we match with him to 2015, PDP women will reach the promise land,” Mrs Chikwe said.

She expressed gratitude to the Jonathan-led administration for opportunities it gave to women to achieve their optimum potential through elective and other political appointments.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that President Jonathan had promised to ensure 35 per cent political appointment for women during his campaign and kept the promise.

Mrs Chikwe called on woman in PDP women to move fast to prepare for future elections to enable them make more impact in the political development of the country.

She said that the launch of the calendar was the first of its kind since the inception of the PDP.

According to her, it is aimed at raising funds to promote the effort of the party geared, specifically, toward rural development and to empower women.

In his speech at the occasion, Senate President David Mark, said that the struggle of women had come a long way and commended Jonathan for giving them “a voice to be heard”.

Mr. Mark, who was represented by Sen. Helen Esuene, Chairman Senate Committee on Women Affairs, also commended Chikwe for the initiative to launch the calendar.

He described the calendar as a first step and urged men to buy the idea.

The chief launcher, Tony Chukwu, launched the calendar with N45 million while his associates supported him with N15 million.

Wives of the 23 PDP governors, represented by Rivers Governor’s wife, Judith, donated N18 million.

More than N100 million was realised at the launch, which was attended by PDP women senators, wives of PDP local government chairmen and PDP women leaders from across the federation.

Also at the launch were Mrs. Jonathan, wife of the Vice President, Amina Sambo, Minister of State for Defence, Olusola Obada, PDP National Working Committee members among others.

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