AGAINST the rumbling and defections from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), President Goodluck Jonathan, on Thursday assured members of the party that they have nothing to worry about as its opponents do not have the wherewithal to dislodge it from power.
He spoke at the Presidential Villa on a day leaders of the party in North West zone including Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara states, led by former acting National Chairman of the party, Dr. Haliru Bello Mohammed, endorsed him for what they said was his outstanding effort at developing the zone.
The President cited the media attacks from the opposition directed at him and the federal government, and apparently referring to governors under the All Progressives Congress (APC), he said those who call themselves progressives were not capable of changing anything as experience has shown in the country.
He admonished party members who were thinking of defecting not to be deceived to do so because they could not be sure of where they were going.
In an apparent reference to the allegation by Governor Rabiu Kwankaso of Kano State, Jonathan denied that he was anti-north based on the way his administration has implemented development policies in the country.
Addressing the delegation, he said: “There is so much noise in the media whether it is electronic and newspapers or even social media. Sometimes, it seems as if the world is coming to an end. Atimes when they come to me with some of these things, I smile and say from 1959 down, the story has changed.
“Some people call themselves progressives. They have done that before. Did they change the system? Today, if you can abuse Jonathan you are a progressive. If you can attack the federal government, you are progressive.Even if nothing is happening in your state, you are progressive. We have seen the progressives.
“But just like the Vice President said, PDP is still the number one party and it will continue to be the number one party.
“Yes, people may have access to the media and use it robustly to their own advantage or disadvantage. But as long as we are united, which we will do everything possible to keep the party together, PDP continue to dey daram daram. No shaking!
“Nobody should come and deceive you to cross over to the other side that you don’t know what is there. Some people are crossing to where they don’t know.
Well, we will know as we progress but collectively all of us working together with other members across the country, we will still be the leading party.
“There is no ward, no voting unit that you don’t have PDP members.In fact, if you go to some areas, they don’t even know this new name yet.Even where to thumb print on the ballot paper, they don’t even know. So, be rest assured our party will continue to work together to strengthen the party and it will continue to be the number party in this country.”
He was confident that if the party members continued to meet and discuss in the zone, it would maintain its unity and no other party can remove it from power.
“This is critical because unity is strength in terms of political party as long as the PDP in the zone continue to discuss on how to stay together and work together to protect the interest of the party, there is no way any other party can come and over take us,’ he said.
“Nobody should intimidate you, we will continue to support you, PDP is still the number one party, and will remain the number one party,” he further said.
Jonathan, who noted that it was the first time a group from the PDP would be paying him solidarity visit in the State House, challenges his critics to compare the achievements of his government two years and eight months to the previous administrations.
Noting that his transformational agenda was on course, he challenged his critics to compare his achievements to other administrations, saying: “Sometimes, when you hear people talk about this government on the television or in the newspapers, you will think this government is 10 years old, but we are only two years eight months old.
“By May this year, we will be three years old and by May 2014 we will be four years old. And I challenged some of those who criticize without thinking, to compare what we have done in the two years eight months with that of any other administrations in this country and outside.
“That is why when we presented our mid-term report for two years, I asked people to develop their marking scheme. It is not just to criticize but you have to compare and especially a government that is facing too much challenges.”
He said in spite of the Boko Haram challenges, the country has significantly progressed under his administration.
Rejecting the assertion that he was anti-north, the President said: “And sometimes people say Jonathan is anti-north, he does not want to develop the north and sometimes they sell these ideas to people from outside especially those from the United States of America.
“You Nigerians believe the West must say something for us to listen. And I have spoken to one or two envoys and I said, look if I am anti-north, agreed I am from south-south minority, if I had established three universities in the north and three in the south because there is no money nobody will castigate me.
“In the south, there were only two universities before we established the new universities, there were only three states without university in Ekiti, Ebonyi and Bayelsa.All the others have federal universities. As at that time, nine states in the north did not have university. And I believe that the very first thing you use to emancipate people is education.
“I often use myself as a good example, I grew up in a peasant home. If I did not go to school, there is no way I would have been here today. What has made me to be here today is education.
“They said I am lucky.If I didn’t go to school, will luck bring me to be President of Nigeria? And I say it is not fair.No matter what, let’s start small universities that will not admit more than 400 students that we can provide decent environment, more facilities.So, if I am against them, would I have done that?
“The issue of Almajiri education, if I am against the north, would I have encouraged that we work with the governors to provide for quite a number of children who are out of school? We can go on and on but this is not the time for that because all these are blackmail, political blackmail.”
Jonathan spoke of his commitment to revive the rail sector, road infrastructure, agriculture among others, specifically denying that he allocated only N2billion to the north as had been claimed in some quarters.
According to him, “On agriculture, I read an article in the papers where somebody said government has budgeted N2 billion for the north. How can a government budget N2 billion? That was seed money.
“In some northern states alone, we are intervening with N14 billion which I have approved and that is outside line budgeting. I don’t know whether the ministry (of agriculture) has received. Some northern states not the whole country are going to intervene in agriculture.”
Noting the vast resources in the north, he urged the people in the region to cooperate with his government to transform the economy of the country for the benefit of all.
On the proposed National conference, he assured that it was necessary to discuss how to strengthen the unity of the country, assuring that he would not interfere in the process.
In his address, the leader of the delegation, Dr Haliru Bello Mohammed, spoke of the numerous federal government projects in the zone including the almajiri schools, new universities sited in the area to rectify education imbalances.
He pointed out the revitalization of the railway services which had been abandoned for about two decades but are now running regularly, saying that “there is no doubt that this is another significant project that could boost efforts at finding lasting solutions to the transportation problems as well as energizing the economy of the region.”
Mohammed remarked that Vice President Namadi Sambo was working very hard “to organize and reinvigorate the party and to maintain its vibrancy in our zone and the north generally,” saying, “this is evident not only from the various consultative meetings he has been holding across the north and particularly in our zone, but also from the dignities that are here present.
“For him to mobilize all these people at short notice, it is an indication of what he has been doing to galvanize the party in our zone and in the north in general.”
He assured Jonathan that Sambo was “very much on ground and he is holding forth for you in our zone and the north in general and PDP is intact in the North west zone despite all other information you may be getting.”
The former party boss praised Jonathan for his “steadfastness and determination to put in place a solid and well thought out transformation agenda for repositioning the country for a better future of steady and sustainable development is very appreciated by people in our zone and all Nigerians alike.”
He added: “Your transformation agenda is now embedded into the country’s template of economic revitalization and is well on course. The dawn of a new era of progress and the betterment of the fortune and lives of Nigeria and our Nigerian people has brighten the horizon of hope.
“We can only play that God will bless our collective effort under your dynamic leadership to move Nigeria forward and away from the era of dashed hopes and wastage of our national natural resources.
“Our political party, the PDP on whose platform we still stand daram dam dam as Kaduna state people will say, your Excellency, is not under any threat and we urge you to continue the implementation of the manifesto of our great party.
“We are particularly glad to note the pragmatic and impactful dividends that your administration has provided especially in the north particularly, our zone the North West zone. This is through execution of several meaningful projects in all sectors of the economy. We are also grateful for your giant strides in the social economic sectors.”
The President directed the ministers present at the occasion to give an update of federal government’s development efforts in the North West Zone.