- Says ‘I consulted no one before congratulating Buhari’
- Declares defectors hungry politicians
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday broke his silence on the conduct of the March 28 presidential elections and why he conceded defeat to winner of the election, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Jonathan said that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, could not have performed so poorly in some states because the votes recorded for it by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, did not reflect its dominant presence in the affected states.
He also lambasted PDP members who are defecting to the All Progressives Congress, APC, because the former performed poorly in the last elections, saying they are hungry politicians who will come back disappointed.
The President spoke yesterday when he received the report of the elections from the PDP Campaign Organisation headed by former party National Chairman, Col. Ahmadu Ali.
He said it was normal that the APC would take care of its core members first before “food” can get to the PDP defectors.
Jonathan said: “So I encourage members of our party to remain loyal to the party, not to be so disillusioned because we lost the presidential election and decide to go where they think they will fill their stomachs or something. It’s not easy, I have been here for five years plus, you hardly satisfy even 15 percent of those who work for you.
“So, those people running and those already cross-carpeting, they will come back on an empty stomach because they (APC) will touch the primary members of their party, before they get to you; they know you are coming because you are hungry; before it will get to you, the food will be gone.
“So, let us be committed to the party, yes, we will have challenges at the beginning but surely we will get to where we want to be,” the President said.
Jonathan declared that PDP is still the dominant party in the country and called on its members to remain steadfast and united to make sure the party bounces back in future elections.
Jonathan also urged them not to lose hope, saying that what happened to the party happens almost every election year in Ghana, USA and other countries.
He said the most important thing was that Nigeria must move forward and not whether his party lost the election.
“So, I know that there were issues in the 2015 general elections; maybe after a few years when political scientists will write, we will get different perspectives. If you ask various observer groups, each will give you a different perspective. Even among ourselves whenever we talk sometimes I laugh when people draw some of their analysis but by my privileged position I know a little more about the elections than others.
“But the key thing isn’t whether we lost or won but that Nigeria as a nation must move forward. Political parties can only thrive when there is peace and stability in the country. If there is military intervention all the parties will disappear.
“And for the PDP, whatever happened now is like a slip, you don’t need to go to America to know how power goes from the Democrats to the Republicans, it has almost stabilised. It’s like once you serve eight years you are ready to handover to either the Republican or Democrat. So, theirs is almost an established setting. But for Ghana which is very close to us, the present party lost some eight years back and of course, came back and won the elections.
“So the problem is not whether we lost the election, that is history, but how do we consolidate our party and move forward? If we are committed and we work hard, definitely, PDP will bounce back,” the President added.
He said that the presidential election may not have been free and fair as widely claimed, adding that, “PDP is still the dominant party. If you look at the results, the difference is just 2.5 million votes and if you look at the areas where it is perceived that PDP scored so low, PDP couldn’t have gotten those kinds of scores but the elections are over, let’s put the country first.”
Jonathan said that he consulted no one before calling Gen. Buhari to congratulate him, stressing it was a sacrifice he made on behalf of all the party stakeholders.
“It is not as if Jonathan alone made the sacrifice, it’s all of us. I made the pronouncement but some of us are paying the price. Some people paid more price than I did; I know how some of you are already being persecuted and the kind of situation facing you. The key thing is that we must continue to unite; as a party we must continue to work hard so that as we go into subsequent elections in 2019, 2023 and so on and so forth, PDP will continue to come up strong. Even in the interest of the nation, we need PDP.
“I still believe that though we have lost presidential elections, some National Assembly elections, governorship elections, especially in the North, PDP is still the dominant party. Let us not judge PDP by the result of the elections.
“Our duty is to go back and identify areas of challenges so that the party will come up strong and play the role as a very strong party. PDP is still the most organised party, it’s still the party that is not owned by anybody, it’s still the party that whatever you are, you can get to any level with your competence and so on.
“So, I have to sincerely thank all of you, who worked tirelessly for the elections, you did your best despite that we didn’t win the election but the key thing is that Nigeria is peaceful.
“The countries that brought ships, everything around us waiting to evacuate their nationals are happy because there was nobody to evacuate. The country was so tensed but everything has gone down and I think that is the most important thing because the conviction is that you must have a country before you can run for an office.
“Nigeria is a very complex country and you must manage it with care.
“Yes, I did not consult anybody before I made that phone call but I made that phone call on behalf of all of you and on behalf of the PDP,” he said.
Earlier, Ali commended the President for showing exemplary leadership and making the PDP proud despite losing to the election.
He said: “You made the world proud by conceding defeat even when you had several options. You proved to the world that you are committed to your credo that ‘no one’s blood is worth your political ambition.’
“By that singular act, you pulled Nigeria back from a seeming predetermined precipice and you made us proud. While you assuredly lost in the ballots, you won the biggest victory in defeat by that historic phone call,” Ali said.