By Uche Secondus
On behalf of the National Executive Committee (NEC), I join the Organizing Committee to welcome our leaders and all delegates to the 2015 National Conference of our great Party. I extend our special appreciation to some of our founding fathers and elder statesmen for finding time to be with us today. This is yet another demonstration of your abiding faith in the house you helped to build.
We must equally commend the Deputy Senate President, The Senate Minority Leader, the House of Reps Minority Leader, our Governors and Members of the National and State Assemblies who have displayed an uncommon loyalty, commitment and courage in the promotion and protection of the interests of our Party during these trying times.
We are proud of all of the distinguished delegates to this conference and by extension, the entire members of our Party who you have come here to represent.
We should congratulate ourselves for our perseverance and faith in the Party. We have the duty to bend over backwards and woo back some of our members who may be having a rethink about the Party. Let me assure us all that by the grace of God, our labour of love for this Party will not be in vain.
This conference is laudable and auspicious having consideration to the trajectory of our Party’s history, 17 years after its formation. We commend the committee – this initiative is part of the soul-searching; it is part of the reconciliation process.
It is also a forum for reliving the ideals, values and the inspiration of the founding fathers of this Party. It is the ideal platform for articulating and marketing the roadmap for the way forward for our Party.
Inspite of the disappointing loss of the PDP in the 2015 general elections, we should draw energy for a rebound from our proud heritage. Ours is the Party that in 1998 rose to the occasion to recreate our civil political institutions, to reconcile the diverse people of Nigeria for unity and brotherhood and proposed an agenda, a manifesto that provided hope in the power of the people to build a prosperous industrial democracy.
Your Excellences, distinguished delegates, that agenda, that hope gave us resounding victories in the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 elections and we subsequently consolidated our presence in the 9,572 electoral wards, 774 Local Governments and in all the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory.
A breakdown of the votes garnered by the PDP in the Presidential elections under reference is a clear indication of the mass appeal of the party:
|Year||Number of votes||Percentage|
As a ruling Party, we expanded the frontiers of liberal democracy in our country and as a national Party, ensured that we removed most of the fault lines that divided our diverse peoples. Inarguably, we have equally laid a solid foundation for a modern industrial economy.
The point of celebrating our past successes and legacies at this time after the disappointing loss at the 2015 elections is to remind us that we have a proud heritage and that there is the probability that we can re-enact those successes in the future. Yes we can!
The Way Forward
The National Executive Committee under my leadership empanelled a Post-Election Review Committee which returned a far-reaching report on how to reposition the Party. As you may be aware, NEC has adopted the report with few amendments and the NWC has commenced its implementation including preparing the framework for constitutional amendments to effect those proposals.
Conscious of the lessons learnt from past mistakes, the NWC under my leadership has started implementing some policy initiatives in the spirit of the proposals of the Ike Ekweremadu Committee.
In our bid to consolidate the practice of internal democracy, we ensured that we conducted free, fair and transparent primaries for the up-coming Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections, little wonder the Party was able to effect reasonable reconciliation after the primaries.
We have kick-started the Biometric Membership Registration for the PDP in Edo State and the nationwide exercise will soon commence. You will agree with me that this is the way to go in an IT driven world. It is the way to go if we seriously want to return the Party to the people; and get the Youth to participate actively in our Party. Above all this is the surest tool for guaranteeing internal democracy and implementing the Direct Primaries option we are proposing to introduce. In short the Biometric Membership Registration is the most effective strategy that can finally remove the phenomenon of The Godfather in our Party’s lexicon.
The leadership of the Party has literarily bitten the bullet in our resolve to give Nigerians responsible and responsive opposition. This is against the alarming scenario of the unyielding actions of the ruling Party aimed at emasculating the opposition instead of facing the real tasks of governance in order to bring the hackneyed change they profess.
Our newly improved Communication Strategy has proved very effective in the task of letting the international community and Nigerians know the excesses of the APC government in terms of:
- their interferences in the judicial processes that have led to the unjustifiable judgements at the lower courts in the Rivers, Akwa-Ibom and Taraba States post election petitions
- the virtual degeneration of Nigeria into a police state exemplified in the invasion of Akwa-Ibom government house by security agents and the flagrant abuse of the fundamental rights of members of the opposition
- the obvious selective implementation of the ordinarily well received anti-corruption fight. Just yesterday the Senate commenced the investigation of an allegation involving the payment of commission to a company allegedly owned by a Northern APC Governor and a South-Western APC Leader for collecting monies meant for the Single Treasury Account in violation of the BIOFA Act.
This is an unprecedented rip-off of our common wealth. We urge a thorough investigation of this allegation and the transparent prosecution of anybody indicted in this fraudulent deal no matter how highly placed.
Again, we need to use this medium to call on the APC government to put a stop to these indiscretions in the interest of the survival of our hard-won democracy. Enough is Enough! Let it be clear that the people of Nigeria and PDP members would stand resolutely against any attempt to constrain our cherished freedoms under the rule of law.
Your Excellences, distinguished leaders of our great Party, the Peoples Democratic Party is clearly the most valued democratic asset in Nigeria today. The APC is conscious of this fact and that is why they are resolved to destroy the Party.
Brothers and Sisters when we consider the challenging circumstances we find ourselves as a Party in our avowed drive to reorganize and reposition, we must be determined to ensure that we resist the temptation to continue in the blame game; to make sure that selfish interests do not divide us and give the ruling Party the leeway to realize their goals.
The future of our great Party is bright. According to Abraham Lincoln “The best way to predict your future is to create it”.
We can rekindle the hope we gave Nigerians in 1998 through hard work and sacrifice and move to realize our dream of a modern Nigeria. What we need to do now is to sustain the on-going repositioning of our Party by:
- Implementing the approved recommendations of the Ekweremadu Committee.
Secondly, we need to forge ahead in unity; we need not entertain unrealistic schemes and ambitions at this critical time in order for us to achieve maximum results.
In this conference, we should build a consensus for implementing the recommendations so that our stakeholders will carry the message of hope to our grassroots and most importantly to Nigerians who are eagerly waiting for the PDP as a credible alternative having seen that the APC does not have the capacity to drive development or the temperament to sustain the unity of our multi-ethnic Country, Nigeria.
We do not have time; we do not have the space either. We all need to work very hard bearing in mind that we have practically one month before we start the preparations for the next round of Congresses and National Convention to elect leaders that would drive the repositioning of our Party, the foundation of which our leadership is painstakingly laying.
Let us rise to the occasion! With God the PDP will prevail because we have a better philosophy. We only need to work hard with sincerity of purpose. Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.
I wish you a fruitful deliberation. May God Almighty continue to bless our dear Party and our Country, Nigeria.
Uche Secondus is the Acting National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He delivered this speech at the occasion of the party’s national conference held on Thursday 13 November, 2015 at the Thisday Dome, Abuja
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