The PDP said it has helped to stabilize the polity.
President Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday gave a tacit backing to the emergence of a two-party system in Nigeria, saying it would engender political stability.
He, however, berated critics of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, saying despite the criticisms, the ruling party has helped to stabilize the polity since the return of democracy in 1999.
He said PDP has become a force to reckon with, insisting this has pushed the opposition parties to think of coming together to fight the ruling party.
Mr. Jonathan, who spoke at the 61st meeting of the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party in Abuja, expressed his desire to see two big parties, which in his estimation could instigate loyalty in PDP and further reduce tension in the polity.
“One good thing that Nigerians should commend PDP now is that if you look at the evolution of political parties, it is now stable.” Mr. Jonathan said.
“Before, when elections are coming, by now you will 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, no matter the criticism they are criticizing us, they know that we are very strong and they realize that what they need to do is not forming new parties but parties coming together. So, we are helping to stabilize the polity,” he added.
The president defended a two-party system saying “we will encourage them to come together more. We want a situation where it is PDP versus one.
“In that case, the polity will be more stable. Even our members will be more loyal to the party because you will have nowhere to go.”
The last time Nigeria had a two-party system was in 1993 when all elections were between the Social Democratic Party and the National Republican Convention.
President Jonathan condemned the rate at which disgruntled party members ove to smaller parties, saying “all this time, immediately we disagree in PDP, somebody is picking form in one PPP, DDD party and contesting House of Assembly or House of Representatives or Senate.
“When we have only two, before you get there, they have already occupied that place. So, even if we disagree, we will agree at the end of the day and it will even help to build a stronger party.”
Mr. Jonathan said “Nigerians should commend PDP. If PDP were weak, people wouldn’t have gathered together. There wouldn’t have been any reason for parties to come together to fight PDP.
“But when you have so many parties on their own they know they cannot face us until they come together then you know that we are formidable. And PDP will become stronger and no matter the gang up, I don’t see how they can uproot the PDP.”
On security, the president lamented the rise of kidnapping incidents in the southern part of the country as well as the excesses of terrorist groups in some parts of the North, adding that government had taken some steps to curb the menace.
He also expressed dismay at the communal conflicts and ethnic cleansing, adding that the recent killings in Zamfara State had nothing to do with the Boko Haram sect.
“But one key thing sometimes that get people confused about Boko Haram is this communal conflicts, ethnic cleansing. It was not so prominent before.
“Animosity between tribes and society has been a part of human society; it has been a part of the history of the human race. People leaving together must have disagreement. But this idea of minor provocation (and) youth will carry weapons to attack and kill massively, like what happened in Zamfara State recently, it 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 had nothing to do with Boko Haram,” he said.
He urged the state governors to discuss such issues in their meeting.
“It is one area the governors will also be discussing in their meetings. This ethnic rivalry is becoming embarrassing. Government cannot continue to sit down and allow ethnic rivalry between communities, between different ethnic groups leading to deaths,” he said.
“Definitely, if we send soldiers to such places, soldiers carry guns, they don’t carry canes, the result may not be too palatable.
“So on our own, the leaders of this country, governors and all of us, we should try and continue to talk to our brothers and sisters that killing is not the best way to resolve conflicts. As long as we liver, there must be conflicts but we should use dialogue to resolve our conflicts.”
Mr. Jonathan said the nation’s economy is bright, adding that he had just finished a meeting with top investors from some part of the world, who he said raised key issues on corruption and insecurity.
“In terms of economic focus, it is quite bright. All what we need as a nation is for us to believe in Nigeria and no matter the interest we have, not to compromise the interest of the state.
“Somebody may want to hold office including that of the president or a councillor, the country must be there for you to hold that office and as long as you don’t compromise the interest of the state in our political struggle in Nigeria’s interest, it will not take us more than five years for this country to get to the point where the issues of unemployment and job creation will no longer be a big thing,” he said.
The president promised that he and his team would not disappoint the PDP.
“We must make sure that anytime PDP has any reason to campaign, we must have reference point, we have solid material to show.
“We have not reached where we want to go, no doubt about that. We are totally committed that we must move this country to where we want our children to be but we need the maximum cooperation of ever member of our party.
“We promise our party that in spite of the noise people are making, political environment, there is so much noise, they are just noise. we will continue to move forward in PDP,” he said.
The president recounted the history of the formation of the Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, saying, “As the time of formation of the Nigerian Governors Forum, focus was slightly different. In every organization, over the years, there must be some change direction and so and so forth.
“So, looking at the number of PDP governors vis a vis the total number of governors, it becomes very clear that the PDP needs to have their own thing because we have realized that some of the other political parties, the governors used to meet before coming for general meetings.
“But PDP being the elephant among them it did not really bother much. But over the period, we have realized that there is the need for them to also meet because politics is politics. Politics is a game of interest.
“I remember the first time I read Obasanjo’s book, that was 1981, “My Command” he said something in one of the place there that in politics, there is nothing like permanent friends or permanent enemies but permanent interests.
“I believe in even in local politics, the interest matters so much. There is no permanent friend, no permanent enemy but permanent interest and as long as people have different interest, there must be disagreement.
“But as a member of political party, we must know that no matter what, the party’s interest must supersede any other interest. At the end of the day, all our interests will converge to one interest, that is, the interest of PDP.”
Tukur calls for unity
Declaring the meeting open earlier, the PDP National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, lamented the open confrontation by members of the party with the political administration, saying it could hinder development and necessary changes that should be made.
“Open confrontation with political administration exposes our political weaknesses. Fighting the party from within is unhealthy and dangerous for our image and aspiration,” he said.
“Overheating the polity because of inordinate ambition contradicts our perception for democratic orderliness.
“As good leaders, let us not forget that, we have an obligation to serve and serve the people very well. Those who resort to tread the path of dismal performance should never underestimate the political awareness of Nigerians who keep track of every single political development in today’s Nigeria.”
On the way forward, Mr Tukur urged party members to reconcile their disagreement by closing ranks and stimulating greater efficiency in their judgments, adding that already mechanism has been put in place to achieve unity at all levels of the party.
He also pushed for internal democracy to triumph over current practices of imposition of candidates during the party congresses thus collectively sustaining the political hopes and aspiration of Nigerians.
The national chairman called on the party to accelerate the need to reward its deserving members by way of appointments and patronage, adding “Greater efforts will be deployed to conclude compilation, approval and inauguration of the newly reconstituted Boards.”
He appealed to PDP members to support the leadership in the current drive to reconcile, reform and rebuild Nigeria; and expressed optimism that the party would overcome all existing disagreements.