In what appears like a campaign of brickbats, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday fired back at the opposition, describing the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a party of democrats and not that of hooligans and renegades.
He also charged the APC presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari to showcase his democratic credentials.
Speaking at the inauguration of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation in Abuja, the President said: “You must always remember that we are a party of democrats, not a party of hooligans. We are a party of patriots, not a party of renegades. We are a party of statesmen and women. We are a party of builders, not destroyers. We are a party of committed servants of the people. You must let our people see once again, that we are in this to serve and to move Nigeria forward, not to move Nigeria backward.”
The president said that he is fully convinced that the campaign team would work as a team and also has all that it takes- “the passion, intellect, drive, commitment, and the know-how to run a focused, robust and purposeful campaign that will further endear our ticket to the electorate and bring us victory once again. Many of you are tested veterans of political campaigns.”
“As we embark formally on the campaigns for our re-election, our party, the Peoples Democratic Party will depend on you. I am also personally counting on you. I ask you to take on this assignment for your great party, for Goodluck Jonathan and Namadi Sambo, and also, more importantly, for the country as a whole,” he said.
According to Jonathan, “Without doubt, the forthcoming elections mark a critical point in our nation’s history. The eyes of the international community are focused on the transition that lies ahead of us; the fifth post-military rule general election that will be conducted under a civilian dispensation in Nigeria.
“The world is asking: will Nigeria get it right? My categorical response to that is: Yes, we must. And surely, we will. It is your duty to ensure that through your campaigns and activities, this primary objective is not lost. Our commitment to free, fair, credible, and violence-free elections remains unshaken. That should also be your own commitment as we go to the field to seek the people’s mandate once again.
“In the coming campaigns and elections, we must see to it that Nigeria triumphs, and that democracy wins. No other cause can be greater than the Nigerian cause. Without Nigeria, there will be no president.
“We have an obligation to consolidate our democracy, strengthen our institutions and project Nigeria positively by running a disciplined, issue-based and civilized campaign. That is my charge to you all.
“I am especially inspired by the positive energy, the optimism, and the enthusiasm among our party leaders and members. There may be issues arising from the party primaries, which have led to some of our members expressing grievances. But this is the time for all of us to come together and work as one family.
“At the end of the day, everyone of us will be useful in one way or the other. I call on all party members to stand as one in the face of the assignment ahead of us. Losing a party primary should not result in a loss of faith in the party.
“No election should be a do-or-die contest. Whatever grievances we have can be resolved within the family and will be resolved. There is a job to be done, and all loyal members of our great party must play their expected roles. I urge members of the Presidential Campaign Organisation to go round the country, propagating our message of transformation and continuity.
“I urge you to fully mobilise all the party faithful in every ward and every district to work for the victory we require to take our agenda for national transformation forward to a successful conclusion for the benefit of present and future generations of Nigerians.”
The president said that the PDP has everything it takes to run an excellent and victorious campaign.
“Our great party has demonstrated to Nigerians that it is the party with the broadest appeal,” he said.
According to him, “We are the strongest and the biggest. We have engaged the people of Nigeria positively with people-friendly policies, which have moved Nigeria forward.
“We have sustained the democratic tradition. We have strengthened democratic institutions. We inherited a rather complex security challenge but we are waging a determined war against it. We are succeeding in preventing terrorists and insurgents from turning more of our communities into enclaves for their dastardly activities.
“We remain fully committed to further empowering the security agencies to enable them win the war against terror. We have proven to the people that we are a party and a team that they can rely upon.”
He said that in the last four years, despite the security challenges “Nigeria, under our watch, has made significant strides in every aspect. Our economy today is the largest and the strongest in the African continent, and a preferred destination for foreign direct investment.
“We have focused on job creation and the expansion of opportunities for our teeming youths as well as interventions to promote micro, small and medium scale enterprises.
“Through an internationally acclaimed transformational agricultural programme, we have re-established agriculture as a business, and a major driver of economic growth.
“Today, not only is the agricultural sector thriving, the value chains in the sector have been activated and have become productive. The country’s food import bill has been reduced, and the non-oil sector has witnessed significant growth. We have expanded access to education by providing schools and facilities at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
“Today, there is a federal university in every state of the federation, and every Nigerian child has been given the opportunity to go to school.
“We have successfully privatised the power sector: a process that was adjudged by the international community of investors as transparent and credible. Our trains are moving again, from Lagos to Kano, from Lagos to Ibadan, from Port Harcourt to Enugu.
” I am not campaigning to you who are already convinced. I have no doubts that you are all familiar with the achievements of this administration. But I have outlined a few of them to show that we are in a solid position to run a campaign based on our commendable record.
“Our creditable performance in the past four years should be our strongest selling point as we go to the campaign fields.
“Flaunt our achievements in all parts of the country, tell the story of what we have achieved and let the facts and the figures be heard in every nook and cranny of Nigeria.”
According to him, “In doing this, you must be civil, decorous and law-abiding. I have repeatedly promised Nigerians and the international community that as much as it lies within our powers, the coming general election will be free, fair, credible and violence-free. I made that pledge with all seriousness and I fully intend to fulfill it.
“As agents of the ruling party, all eyes will be on you during the campaign and elections. I therefore expect nothing but the highest standard of exemplary conduct from you as your worthy contribution to the fulfillment of our pledge of peaceful and successful elections.
“Some other politicians and campaigners are threatening fire and brimstone. Do not join them. Some other parties are pulling down other people’s posters. That is primitive. Please, do not join them. Every Nigerian must be free to campaign anywhere.
“Thugs, violence and malpractice or rigging must have no place in our campaign and electoral activities.
“Do not join those who threaten to start fires and turn them into infernos in our country.”
On those planning to foment trouble, he said: “I assure you and all Nigerians that whoever foments trouble before, during and after the elections will be promptly and decisively dealt with according to the law.
“With all our party leaders and members, we are going into this election season to legitimately seek our people’s mandate for further service, consolidation and continuity of progress. We must place our hope for victory in nothing else but the support and confidence of the great majority of our people, and the blessing of Almighty God.
“We will ensure that the people’s votes count and that their will prevail, as it should be in every true democracy.”
In his acceptance speech, the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Organisation, Ahmadu Ali, said: “Let the word go out to all and sundry that our conduct during this presidential campaign will be exemplary because we have the fear of the Almighty God. Let me restate the fact that our party, the PDP, is in power. We are the defending champion with the belt tightly around our waists.
“In this 21st century where great nations of this world are fielding young men and women in their forties and fifties as presidents and prime ministers, it is ironic that Nigeria’s APC is fielding a septuagenarian with fossilised ideas of how to run a government and social engineering. Nigeria deserves a better leadership than their candidate who has no certificates to tender as requirement for entering an election.”.
Also speaking, the National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, yesterday caused a stir at the inauguration of the party’s presidential campaign organisation, when he told President Jonathan to ensure that the era of ‘monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’ would not exist in the PDP any longer as that is the bane of the party.
He said that majority of the members of the opposition political parties were members of the ruling party who defected because of the politics of monkey dey work baboon dey chop.
Mu’azu urged the president to consult widely with the governors, members of the National Assembly and other organs of the party, so as to ensure that the era where members of the party would work hard for the victory of the party and later driven to the back seat should no longer exist.
According to Mu’azu, “There is absence of justice, fairness and equality in the PDP. What we have in the PDP is the monkey dey work and baboon dey chop. What we want after the general election is monkey working and monkey chopping. No more baboon eating alone. Most members of the APC and other opposition political parties are members of the PDP. They left because of the monkey dey work baboon dey chop politics of PDP. This should stop.”
Mu’azu advised the members of the campaign organisation to work hard as the PDP is the party to beat, while charging them to ensure a less rancorous campaigns, but should base their campaigns on issues and achievements of President Jonathan’s administration.
“Today, no journalist is in prison and no Nigerian is a fugitive because of the administration of President Jonathan. Let your campaigns be based on issues . Jonathan’s continuity in 2015 is for the stability and unity of Nigeria, peace and development .
“Jonathan will get elected in February through democratic principles,” Mu’azu declared.
In his speech, the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, lambasted the APC presidential candidate, General Buhari, and accused his party on thriving on propaganda, stating that the APC would not get more than 35 per cent of the presidential votes.
He said that APC is fielding a dictator who has no democratic value and experience, adding: “ I have no doubt in me that Nigerians will not vote APC, because Nigerians prefer freedom and not someone who will throw them into prison.”
According to him, “Nigerians are not ready to hand over the affairs of this country to individuals. This election is between light and darkness. Nigeria and Nigerians must not go back to the era of darkness again.”
Speaking in the same vein, the Senate President, David Mark said that the opposition political parties has no viable presidential candidate to offer, adding that the February presidential election is all about the future of Nigeria and it cannot be played with.
“We cannot hand over the future of Nigeria to the APC or the opposition political parties, as Nigerians are determined to hand over to President Jonathan a wonderful Valentine’s gift on February 14,” he said.