In what looked like the commencement of a campaign by another name, President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday declared that the several gang-ups against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by the opposition parties would fail, as they had always done in the past.
Jonathan, who spoke in Kaduna during what the party tagged â€œUnity Rallyâ€ for the North-west zone, noted that since 1999, several political parties had always connived to work against the fortunes of the PDP during elections, but have serially failed, stressing that no amount of gang-up by the opposition could erode the electoral fortune of the party.
â€œWe have been told that some people are ganging up in some different names. I can assure you, donâ€™t be bothered about any gang-up. This is not the first time that there has been a gang up. From 1999, there was a gang-up. Two, three political parties came together. They brought presidential candidate from one (of the parties) and Vice-Presidential candidate from one other party. The gang-up will fail.
Jonathan, who drew an allegory between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and combustible products, declared that the APC was like an assemblage of inflammable chemicals.
â€œI used to tell people that if you put oil in a container, then pour kerosene in that container, then pour sulphuric acid in that container, you bring petrol and pour in that container and then hydrochloric acid, what will come out of the container? It is a disaster!
â€œSo the gang-up will fail. It is just as you mix acid and other things in a container. So donâ€™t be worried, it is not a new thing. They will continue to gang-up, but will fail,â€ the president declared.
Jonathan told the huge crowd, which trooped to the Murtala Square, Kaduna venue of the event, that PDP remains the most stable and democratic party which is working to develop Nigeria.
According to him, great political parties in the world donâ€™t change everyday like rocks going through metamorphosis, pointing out that the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa had existed for over 103 years and it still remains ANC today.
â€œSo when you see parties changing colours, changing names, know that that is not where to go. Be committed to PDP, you are in the right place to be.
â€œPDP is the only party that can lead us to where we want to go. PDP is the only democratic party that anybody can rise up to the highest level in the party, other parties will not give me and you the opportunity to be where we want to go,â€ he said.
Jonathan noted that the North-west zone was very special to the party in view of the fact that it has seven states out of which PDP controls five.
He commended the people of the zone for their support for PDP and for cooperating with the government to tackle the security challenges facing the north.
The president stated further that he was in the North-west zone to tell Nigerians and the rest of the world that the PDP remained the ruling party in the zone.
â€œCome 2015, PDP is going to retain this zoneâ€¦ We will continue to retain Jigawa, Katsina, Kaduna and Kebbi States. Kano State is a PDP state, but some people want to take the state from us. We donâ€™t know where they are taking Kano State to. But with Shekarau and others joining PDP, we will take Kano back. Kano State will surely come back to PDP.
â€œThe same thing with Sokoto State, PDP will take over Sokoto State, and will continue to rule Sokoto State. The only state that has never been in the control of the PDP is Zamfara State. But it is a friendly state and we have been assured that we will win Zamfara come 2015,â€ Jonathan said.
Speaking earlier, the National Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Adamu Muâ€™azu, accused the opposition APC of adopting some parts of the PDP manifesto.
â€œIf you take the manifesto of the party that is opposing us today, you will notice that their manifesto is just a section of our manifesto. They just copied parts of our manifesto and therefore, that tells you, even in action and governance they will only do part of what we are able to do,” he said.
Muâ€™azu disclosed that the PDP leadership would soon call a conference of all its leaders and elders as well as members of the party to update its manifesto to meet the needs and aspirations of the people.
â€œI want to assure you that we will continue to build internal democracy under my leadership with members of the National Working Committee that are my colleagues, we believe in deepening our democracy, we believe in building internal democracy so that those people that want to be elected to various positions should go and campaign to the people in towns and villages when it is time for campaigns so that they remain the people to beat so that whoever wins our primaries can be sure of the support of the people,â€ he said.
Also in his remarks, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Tony Anenih, appealed to Nigerian youths to be law abiding and urged them to shun violence and ensure peace during and after the 2015 elections.
â€œLet me appeal to Nigerian youths to be law abiding; we want peace in this country, we want peace during the election; we want peace before the election and we want peace after the election.
â€œPDP has the machinery to be able to reconcile issues. We started long ago and it is ongoing. I want to appeal that without unity, without sincere reconciliation, without oneness, there would be no PDP, and there would be no Nigeria,” he said.
Also earlier, the PDP governors in the zone, namely Kebbi, Kaduna, Jigawa and Katsina States, as well as the leadership of the party in the zone described the unity rally as timely as it would strengthen the party.
Prior to the rally proper, Jonathan met with traditional rulers from Kaduna State at the General Hassan Usman Katsina House.
At the meeting, the leader of the monarchs and Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, called for the resuscitation of Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC).
He said if NIREC was resuscitated by the federal government, it would in no small measure contribute to the promotion of unity and progress of the nation.
According to the royal father, if more attention was given to the security of lives and property, it would automatically act as catalyst to the promotion of unity of the country.
“I want to make a passionate appeal to the government to resuscitate the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC) at the national level,” he said.
The emir said the visit of the president, though brief, would go a long way in sustaining democratic governance.
He assured Nigerians that the traditional institution, particulalrly from the zone, would continue to support the government.
“We will support every government of the day towards achieving sustainable peace which include security of lives and property,” he said.
Jonathan had commended the monarchs for supporting the government in ending the crisis, particularly in Kaduna.
“Kaduna State is a very tough state which you know more than me.
“Ordinarily, Kaduna would have been one of these states converted to lake of fire but because of your cooperation with the government.
“Yes, we are having challenges, but we will overcome them,” the president said.
He said he was in the state for PDP’s rally meant to reconcile aggrieved members and not to campaign.
“As a PDP family, we are going from zone to zone to have unity rally. Elections are coming up next year and we will soon go into elections and politics is a game of interest.
“We believe that before we start our electioneering activities, we need to come together, hold ourselves, shake ourselves before we go to electioneering.
“When we move to the next level, we will still come for your blessings,” Jonathan said.
Vice-President Namadi Sambo noted that his boss had delivered on his promise to the people of the zone.
He noted that to ensure efficient power supply in the zone, an additional 215 megawatts power project would be completed and inaugurated in November.
According to him, over N10 billion was approved by the federal government for the Great Green Wall to address the challenges of erosion.
The vice-president equally told the monarchs that the rail line from Abuja to Kaduna was 70 per cent completed, while that of Kaduna to Kano was in progress.
Also speaking, former governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, called on the APC National Leader, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, to join the PDP, stressing that it is only his joining the PDP that would ensure unity in the North-west zone.
â€œI want to use this special occasion to appeal to my respected leader and brother to tell him that I have joined PDP and there is still a vacancy for him to come and join the PDP.
â€œWe are talking of peace and unity, there is no way we can unite ourselves if we are not in the same party. PDP already has five of the seven states in the North-westâ€, Bafarawa said.
Those at the meeting included Governors Mukhtar Ramalan Yero (Kaduna), Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Ibrahim Shehu Shema (Katsina), Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo (Gombe), Sa’idu Nasamu Dakingari (Kebbi), Theodore Orji (Abia), Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom) and the Deputy Governor of Sokoto, Mukhtar Shehu Shagari.
Others at the meeting were Muazu, Anenih, former Chief of Staff to the President, Chief Mike Ogiadhome, former chairman, Ahmadu Ali.
And in apparent furtherance of his consultations President Jonathan also met with South-west Governors in his office in the Presidential Villa, behind closed doors yesterday.
The president met with governors Babatunde Fashola (Lagos), Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), and Rauf Aregbesola (Osun).
Governors of Oyo, Abiola Ajimobi, and Ondo Olusegun Mimiko, were however not present at the meeting.
The APC governors emerged from the President’s office after the meeting at about 5:36pm.
The governors refused to speak to State House correspondents on what transpired at the meeting.
When pressed by journalists, Governor Fayemi said: “We came to see the president and it is in connection with issues of national importance. It is for the development of the South-west.”
On his part, Governor Amosun said: “that is why it is called private meeting.”