Former President Goodluck Jonathan has faulted critics of his administration and the Peoples Democratic Party, saying the party is back and is the only one that can lead the country to greatness.
Mr Jonathan’s comments came at the PDP’s non-elective national convention today in Abuja, one month after the Supreme Court resolves the prolonged leadership tussle in the party.
“I am here to reassure you that nobody should intimidate PDP. PDP is the only party that can take Nigeria to greatness. I believe in the PDP. Even God believes in the PDP,” he said.
The PDP has attracted heavy criticism for its 16-year rule, especially in the build up to the 2015 general elections and since the All Progressives Congress replaced it as the ruling party with the current administration levelling serious allegations of corruption against the Jonathan administration.
But Jonathan dismissed the allegations, insisting that the party did well.
“I read the papers and people always want to diminish the PDP. It is difficult to beat us; you cannot beat us. And I tell us, PDP members, that from the days of (Olusegun) Obasanjo through the days of (Umaru) Yar’Adua to Jonathan, we have done well. Nobody should intimidate you,” he said.
The Jonathan administration has also been blamed for the current economic crisis in the country, which has seen inflation soar, led to the loss of jobs and as companies and governments have battled to pay salaries.
But the former President would have none of that even though he admits that the PDP is not perfect.
He said, “As a human institution we cannot claim to be perfect, but obviously as a political party, our accomplishments up till 2015 are clear for everybody to see. Our giant development strides are there for all Nigerians to see. There is ample evidence to show that our party has indeed proved to be a party of vision and accomplishment.”
On the political front, he used the elections conducted as examples of his party’s success.
“The elections we conducted, especially from 2011 to 2015 general elections and other elections – senatorial and governorship elections – were accepted globally that they met global standards because PDP is a party that wants to place Nigeria globally to compete favourably with other countries. We don’t look back and we have done well. We succeeded in doing that because of the leverage and autonomy we gave to INEC,” he said.
“Also, even on the economic front, we provided focused leadership through institutional and sectoral reforms which impacted positively on the fundamentals for growth especially in the last four years of my time in power.
“The effect was that we tamed inflation at single digit, maintained price stability, grew the economy to become the largest in Africa with a GDP of over half a trillion dollars and the number one foreign investment destination on the continent.”
He took a swipe at the APC’s handling of the economy, particularly the high food prices, claiming that despite heavy flooding in 2012, which affected many farms across the nation, his administration was able to keep food prices stable.
He said, “I want to give you a simple example, an example that all of us know because you don’t have to be an economist or engineer to know.
“In 2012, we witnessed the largest flood that no Nigerian alive has ever seen. And the bulk of the food we eat in this country is produced along the flood plains of the River Niger and the River Benue. All the flood plains were devastated. More than 50 percent of our farmlands were devastated and the whole world was alarmed, not just Nigerians.”
The former President, however, said his administration was able to react to the disaster and save Nigeria from hardship because it had a strong economic team, contrary to claims.
“Did we see food price increase in 2012? We had a major national disaster, still food prices were stable under the PDP,” he said.
“I won’t go too far, I was told that some people are insinuating that if PDP had continued in power, the economy would be worse off and I laugh. We had a strong team that was managing the economy of this country. That is not talk for today, but definitely we will talk one day.
“If we say that we rekindled hope in our country and regained international goodwill, it is because we pursued a number of policies and programmes that were not only richly rewarding for our people but were also being copied by many other countries across the globe.”