The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria’s oldest political party, yesterday, marked 17 years of its existence with a low-key event at its Wadata Plaza, Abuja National Secretariat.
Briefing Journalists in Abuja, PDP National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, who catalogued the achievements of the party in its 17 years of existence, said it lost some of its founding and leading members because they could not withstand what he termed, stiff competition within the party and some mistakes the party made.
Metuh who tagged his speech, ”PDP At 17..Still The Only True National Party”, said that in spite of the exit of some of its founders and leaders, the party is still in line with the vision and mission of its founding fathers.
He listed the achievements of the PDP-led administrations in economy, transportation, agriculture, healthcare, rule of law, entrenching democracy among others and wondered why the eletorate rejected the party at the polls in 2015.
PDP pioneer members and leaders, who left the party at different times include former National Chairmen, Audu Ogbeh, Barnabas Gemade and Abubakar Kawu Baraje; former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Iyorchia Ayu andYahaya Kwande.
Former PDP National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former governors Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers) Musa Kwankwaso (Kano); Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Kwara state governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed; Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Kebbi State, Senator Atiku Bagudu; Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai and their Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom among others also dumped the PDP just before the March/April general elections.
Metuh who enumerated the party’s achievements in all the sectors beginning from 1999 to date, however, said that only the voting public can explain why the PDP lost the last general elections to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
”Some of those who defected could not just cope with the level of competition in the party; and some members felt that they were not well protected when they sought assistance. Others left because we lost election, others for selfish reason while some others left when they felt they were honestly not accommodated in the party.”
Metuh was the only member of the 16-man National Working Committee (NWC) on a day the party announced that it was marking its 17 years of existence.
On the causes of its loss in the last general election, Metuh said that the statement credited to the acting chairman of PDP Board of Trustees, Haliru Bello, to the effect that disrespect for party rules caused its loss was not the position of the party, which he did not disclose.
Listing the achievements of the party in the last 17 years, Metu said: ”We recall with pride that the founding fathers of the PDP are heroes who rose to the challenge, stood up for million of other citizens, confronted the military and restored genuine democracy, national unity
and stability, entrenched the rule of law and enlarged the political space we all enjoy today.
“Over the years, the PDP has shown strength as the only Nigerian political party that is completely owned and controlled by the Nigerian people; with structures in all the nooks and crannies of the country; and where no individual or group of individuals can claim ownership or allowed to appropriate the interest of the generality of the members.
“This unique national outlook clearly informs PDP’s irrevocable stance on politics of national integration, which ensured that no group or section in the polity is excluded from power, public office and spread of development projects, in line with the federal character principle of our great country.
“At the time PDP came to power, Nigeria’s image internationally was in a deplorable state, with very poor human rights records. The onus of restoring it from its pariah status then rested squarely on the PDP-led government, which it successfully executed, returning the nation to its
pride of place in the comity of nations.
“The PDP-led government under former President Olusegun Obasanjo went further to work assiduously to settle foreign debts accumulated by previous administrations and extricated the nation’s economy from burdens of the London and Paris Clubs debt overhang.
“Furthermore, in line with the determination to establish a moral and ethical society guided by such core values as honesty, integrity and justice, as contained in its manifesto, the PDP administration set up the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit, otherwise known as
Due Process Unit, which ensured transparency in government procurements and spending.
“The PDP government, in the same vein, immediately established the two major anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) with strict establishing and
operation laws to ensure effectiveness and immunity from executive interferences. Down the years, SERVICOM desks were opened in ministries and agencies to further ensure ethical standards in government businesses.
“As a result of this deliberate policies, human rights and business friendly environment were created and it saw to the massive return of Nigerians in the Diaspora and the influx of direct foreign investments into the country.
“Also, in keeping with the vision of our founding fathers to build a qualitative democratic society, successive PDP administrations for 16 years nurtured and sustained national unity and cohesion through strict application of the principles of federal character and social justice, for equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities.
“We initiated series of amendments to the constitution to make it more responsive to the wishes and aspirations of the people; reformed the electoral system to allow for greater political participation, granted operational independence to INEC, enacted the Freedom of Information law, while upholding the sanctity of the rule of law in all sectors of the polity.
“To reposition the economy for greater productivity, successive PDP administrations applied an economic policy, which enhanced a dynamic economy, in which market forces are combined with the forces of partnership, solidarity and cooperation to boost private sector participation and emergence of an empowered middle class system in the country.
“As you are aware, the hallmark of the PDP administration was anchored on the policy of transfer of wealth from the public sector to hard working and enterprising Nigerians. This resulted in the rapid expansion of the nation’s economic frontiers with an unprecedented growth in small and medium scale enterprises, which helped in providing employment for millions of our citizens across the country.
“It is incontrovertible that within the 16 years of successive PDP administrations, more businesses opened in the country in all sectors of the economy; in telecommunication (with one of the world’s fastest GSM and internet penetrations), transport, aviation, hospitality, education, agriculture, the media, auto mobile, real estate, oil and gas, food processing, among others, than in any other period in the nation’s history.
“In the same vein, hitherto weak banking sector was repositioned and strengthened, thereby providing support for businesses and restoring investors’ confidence in our system. By 2015, the PDP has grown our nation’s economy to the largest in Africa and one of the fastest growing
in the world.
“Under the PDP administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, our nation witnessed the successful unbundling of the power sector with massive investments, resulting in the construction and rehabilitation of various power projects. This is in addition to investments in oil and gas sector including the Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of our oil refineries, which dividends, the nation is now enjoying.
“In the works, transport and aviation sectors, yearly investments by PDP administrations resulted in the revitalization of the railways, inland water ways, re-modelling and re-equipping of our aviation system to international standard, rehabilitation and construction of thousands of kilometres of roads and bridges across our country.
“Similar yearly investments by successive PDP administrations changed the face of agriculture in our country from a development Programme to a business for national wealth creation, focusing on the private sector.
By 2014 our national food production had expanded by an additional 21 million metric tons, a record, exceeding the national set target of 20 million metric tons for 2015.
“In education and health, meticulous execution of deliberate policies resulted in significant achievements. While healthcare become more affordable and accessible, series interventionist initiatives in life threatening diseases such as malaria, fibroid, HIV and AIDS, VVF, Hepatitis, Sickle Cell Anaemia, cardiac related ailments, polio which was successfully eradicated in 2014, among others, culminating in an unprecedented 50 per cent drop in maternal mortality and increase in national life expectancy by 2015.
“In education, while all levels of learning received adequate attention, the National Open University of Nigeria was established to boost opportunity for tertiary learning. By the end of first quarter of 2015, 14 new universities were established by the immediate past PDP administration to ensure that all states in the federation has a federal university, in addition to the establishment of the Almajiri system of education in the northern parts to ensure that no Nigerian child is denied access to education.
“As you are aware, one of the major challenges we faced was security. Despite the daunting challenges, successive PDP administrations ensured a well-equipped military, police and para-military agencies to tackle external and internal aggressions and ensure safety of lives and property.
“The record ending of the Niger Delta militancy by the Late Umaru Yar’Adua-led PDP administration, using the Amnesty Initiative, the containing of kidnapping menace in the south east, the drastic reduction in cases of highway criminality, using a combination of combat system
and regulations on electronic money transfer, and the vigorous confrontation of the fight against insurgency in the North east, all give credence to the efforts of the PDP.
“Also, the passing into law of “The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2011,” which provides for prevention, prohibition and combating of acts of terrorism, the re-equipping of the armed forces with officers and men undergoing retraining to enhance operations and professionalism; the
streamlining of security agencies for better cohesion of their roles, including improved intelligence gathering and sharing, which are now being deployed in the services are all to the credit of the PDP.
“Despite our temporary electoral setback in the last election, the PDP is a success story. Unarguably, the PDP is still the only pan-Nigeria party, wholly committed to the Nigerian project, accommodating all national interest and whose only agenda remains the unity, stability and prosperity of Nigeria and its people.
“While we restate our gratitude to the Nigerian electorate who stood by us in our 16 years in government at the centre, and who for obvious reasons now have greater confidence in us than before, we deeply celebrate past and present leaders of our party, past and present members of our National Executive Committee (NEC), past and present elected government officials at the national and state levels, our development partners and teeming members nationwide.
“As we play our new opposition role, the PDP as a highly responsible party, will continue to provide a firm but credible opposition, presenting alternatives to the programmes and policies of the present government while firmly standing on the side of the citizens in opposing acts and policies that are inimical to the health of the nation and the happiness of the people.
“We therefore call on all well-meaning Nigerians to continue to support the PDP as it relentlessly pursue and defend those values and tenets that ensure our unity, stability and prosperity as one people under God.”