Taking a trip down the historical lane on the formation of the PDP, Atiku who was the first to speak noted that his love for the country inspired him to fight tirelessly to enthrone unity and constitutionality in the country.
He said: “I believe in one Nigeria where all our people have equal opportunity. I believe in one Nigeria where we all share a common good.
“This belief inspired me and other compatriots to establish the Peoples Democratic Party on the ideals of one united nation, built on the principles of justice, equity and equal opportunity.
“For the past 19 years, I have fought for these principles, even when some in the party have (sic) not. I fought against factionalism, I fought for our nation’s constitution to prevent tenure elongation. I fought for our party’s constitution – even at the expense of being forced out of the very party that I helped found.
For this is the price one must sometimes pay for democracy.” He added that though he was forced by circumstances to seek political shelter elsewhere, he did not abandon the ideals on which the PDP was founded.
His words: “I never abandoned our founding principles. I stayed true to them as I did on Monday the 17th August, 1998 when the late Alex Ekwueme, the late Solomon Lar and the late Abubakar Rimi and our other founders gathered to announce the birth of the PDP.
“And, today, I am proud to say that I have returned home – home to our party. I am proud that the PDP is the party that successfully took over power from the military in 1999,” he said adding that “In 2015, the PDP was no longer united and Nigerians voted for change.”
While urging party faithfuls to remain united, the former Vice President fired some salvos in the direction of the ruling party, saying it has failed to keep the promises made to the electorate. “We must unite as a party to secure the trust of the Nigerian people again because under the APC, Nigeria is not working and our people are not working.
“Let us consider what the APC has achieved versus what they promised at election time: The APC promised us three million new jobs a year. In government, the APC has lost three million jobs a year.
“The APC promised us peace and unity; under the APC, Nigeria is now more divided and acrimonious than at any time since the civil war. The APC promised us restructuring; in office, the APC denied restructuring.
“The APC promised a war on corruption but all they have delivered is war on the opposition, with handouts for their cronies and handcuffs for their opponents,” he said.
While admitting that the PDP made mistakes while in government, he added that the party’s record of achievements are undeniable in critical sectors of the economy. “We, the PDP, achieved a 10-year increase in the life expectancy of our people.
“We, the PDP, enabled 99 million more of our people to have a mobile phones. “We, the PDP helped Nigeria become the largest economy in Africa. As members of the PDP, we all have a lot to be proud of,” he stated, noting that “In the 16 years that we governed this nation, we kept it united, peaceful and prosperous.
“We made mistakes, but we put our nation first. We did not favour only states that voted for us and punish those that did not. We favoured all. And we also know that 5% and 97% do not add up to 100%.” “We now have an APC government, which continues to blame previous governments and scapegoat people rather than solve problems it was elected to solve,” he added.
Similarly, former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan while thanking the leadership of the PDP for their services to the party, urged those that lost out in the delegate election to work still for the progress of the PDP family. “We plead with those who will win the elections today to carry everybody along. I charge all those that are contesting one position or the other to imbibe the PDP spirit. “Politics is grassroots business.
Party leaders must go to the grassroots to tell the people that the PDP will reclaim lost grounds; Let me tell all those being persecuted today to know that the persecution will expire one day,” he stated.
He called on party members to be proud of the PDP, stressing that “PDP is a party that doesn’t change its name at every election cycle.” For the outgoing national chairman of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, the convention offered a platform to render a little account of the pains and gains of his stewardship.
According to him, “The acute financial position of the party did not help matters, as all but one of the bank accounts we inherited had been garnished by various court judgements on account of debts.
“The only bank account we have had access to these past 18 months is one that had less than two million naira. We virtually lived from hand to mouth. “All that we have succeeded in doing, including the payments of staff salaries, office needs, maintenance and operational expenses have been from party leaders and our personal sacrifices.
“Those odds notwithstanding, we applied ourselves as best as we could to measure up to your confidence. It is with gratitude to God that I report to you that we succeeded in bringing about substantial reconciliation among PDP members across the country, especially in those states where we inherited serious leadership problems with several factions staking claims to it.
States like Adamawa, Anambra, Borno, Kebbi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Osun and Oyo were all in this category. “I am happy to inform you dear delegates, that in all of these states but Osun, we have engendered the emergence, through democratic means, of new leaderships.”
That said, Makarfi literally tore the APC-led government to shreds as he berated the social malaise prevalent in the country under the leadership of President Buhari. “It is with a high sense of responsibility that I seize this opportunity to draw the attention of the government, for, it seems unaware to the fact that Nigerians are hungry as poverty is ravaging the land.
“The relative ease with which foodstuff and other essentials were available and affordable to the average Nigerian under PDP governments is now history. “Insecurity in the North East which was thought to be receding is creeping back with greater ferocity, particularly against soft targets.
“Kidnap for ransom has taken a life of its own, and so are the incessant farmers/herdsmen clashes and criminalities so camouflaged. Government must up the ante in its efforts to confront these menaces,” he counselled.
Present at the well attended invent were Governors and Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, Ayodele Fayose (Ekiti), Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa), Nyesom Wike (Rivers), Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe) and Emmanuel Udom (Akwa Ibom). Others included former Vice President, Namadi Sambo, immediate past President of the Senate, Senator David Mark; Chairman, Board of Trustees of the party, Senator Walid Jibrin; former governors, Achike Udenwa (Imo), Peter Odili (Rivers), Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), and Liyel Imoke among others. THINK YOUR FRIEND WOULD BE INTRESTED? SHARE THIS STORY USING ANY OF THE SHARE BUTTON BELOW ⬇ PLACE YOUR TEXT ADVERT BELOW:>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>