President Goodluck Jonathan has predicted that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in droves, following the PDP’s defeat in the just concluded elections, “will return with empty stomachs”.
President Jonathan spoke on Thursday shortly after receiving the report of the Senator Ahmadu Ali-led PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
His words: “I encourage members of our party to remain loyal to the party; not to be so disillusioned because we lost presidential election and decide to go where they think they will fill their stomachs or something.
“It is not easy. I have been here for five years plus, you hardly satisfy even 15 per cent 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 will touch the primary members of their party before they get to them.
“They know you are coming because you are hungry; and 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.”
He also said: “The problem is not whether we lost the elections, that is history, but how do we consolidate our party and move forward? If we are committed and we work hard, definitely the PDP will bounce back.
Picking holes in the results of the elections for the first time, he said: “The 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 the PDP scored so low, the PDP couldn’t have got those kinds of scores but the elections are over, so the country first.
“It is not as if Jonathan alone made the sacrifice, it is all of us. I made the pronouncement but some of us are paying the price.
“Some people pay more price than I do, 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, the PDP will continue to come up strong. Even in the interest of the nation, we need the PDP.
“I still believe, though we have lost presidential election, some National Assembly elections, governorship elections especially in the North, the PDP is still the dominant party.
“Let us not judge the PDP by the results of the elections for the presidential election.
“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. The PDP is still the most organised party, is still the party that is not owned by anybody, is still the party that whatever you are, you can get to any level with your competencies and so on.”
The President said although he did not consult before calling Buhari on the telephone to concede defeat, he took that step on behalf of the PDP.
“Yes, I did not consult anybody before I made that phone call (to Buhari) but I made that phone call on behalf of all of you and on behalf of the PDP, “ he said.
Jonathan likened the 2015 elections to the nation’s civil war, saying people would give different accounts of the event depending on the angle from where they were reporting.
He however said because of his privileged position, he knew about the elections more than any other person.
according to him, the issue was not about his electoral loss, but the need to consolidate the party and move forward.
He said, “The issues of this 2015 elections will be similar to the civil war because different people gave different accounts of the civil war.
“The first book on civil war that I read was ‘My Command’ by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, which is his perspectives on what he saw and observed. I recall (Chukwuemeka) Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s own was ‘Because I’m Involved.’
“I know that the issues of the 2015 general elections, may be after few years when political scientists will write, we will get different perspectives.
“If you ask the 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 is not 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.”
Jonathan expressed delight that countries that brought ships to Nigeria and were waiting to evacuate their citizens in case post-election crisis broke out did not have any reason to do so.
The Chairman, Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih, attributed PDP’s loss to what he called conspiracies and betrayals by people trusted by the party chiefs.
Anenih however said they needed to put that behind them and look at how they could build a party that would serve as a vibrant opposition to the APC.
“There is a lot to be done. We need a very vibrant and strong party that can stand in as a strong opposition party; a party that can stand well in the next election. That party has to be put in place now. I believe that we are on the right path,” he said.