President Goodluck Jonathan has said the Peoples Democratic Party is not missing any of its five governors who defected to the All Progressives Congress.
He said some of the defected governors cannot win ward elections in their respective states.
Jonathan spoke during the 65th National Executive Committee meeting of the ruling party in Abuja on Thursday.
The five governors are Rotimi Amaechi(Rivers); Aliyu Wamakko(Sokoto); Rabiu Kwakwanso (Kano); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); and Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara).
The Interim National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed, and Adamawa State Governor, Murtala Nyako, however, dismissed Jonathan’s comment, saying, “They(President and the PDP) are reeling from the knockout that they suffered.”
The President said at the meeting which was not attended by 10 of the 18 PDP governors and former President Olusegun Obasanjo that even though there was apprehension when the five governors left, he still believed that the PDP was strong.
He explained that it was that belief that made him to direct the then national leadership of the party to organise zonal rallies to test PDP’s popularity.
The President said, “I appreciate the governors. Though some people left us, we’re not noticing their absence.
“When some governors moved and some members of the National Assembly also moved, some people thought they would soon overrun the party, but when I looked across, from my vantage position, I didn’t really see the threat.
“I told the then national chairman(Bamanga Tukur) to let us organise national unity rallies to demonstrate our strength, so that people will know that one or two persons leaving our fold is inconsequential.
“I’m not even sure they can win their wards in an election now, because some of those states are totally PDP states.
“When you leave and you think you would be leaving with the whole state, by the time you get there, you’ll discover that others stay back and are continuing with the PDP. Some of the governors are even afraid to conduct local government elections.”
Despite the defection, he said the PDP remained the dominant party that would “win elections, free and fair.”
He said that the trend of defection was already changing, adding that some people had started returning to the PDP .
Jonathan added that he was happy that such politicians had realised that the only place where decent politicking could take place was in the PDP.
He said, “At a time, the whole thing(defection) was stalemated; but now more people are even coming to the PDP because if you really want to play politics, the party to be in is the PDP.
“Our democratic credentials go unchallenged. It’s still the only party where you can become a candidate based on free and fair primaries. It’s the party where we don’t impose candidates on members or constituencies.
“It is the party whose candidates are accepted at all levels. And I believe that with this position of the party, we’ll continue to dominate the political landscape of this country.
“The PDP is still the only party that has never changed its name, logo, etc. When you go abroad they can’t remember the names of the other parties due to the level of mutation. We thank all members of the party for their selflessness.”
On the alleged frosty relationship between the Executive and the National Assembly, the President said that at a point, his counterparts in other Economic Community of West African States confronted him with negative reports.
He said many of them wondered whether the PDP was actually in charge of the National Assembly or not.
The President said, “At a time we had issues with the National Assembly and as PDP members we were beginning to worry.
“When I attend ECOWAS and African Union meetings, people always asked me what the problem was. They always say that things coming out of the nation did not reflect the fact that the PDP controlled it.
“But since Adamu Mu’azu, the game changer, assumed control, we have begun to see changes. We now see that the National Assembly is a PDP assembly.”
He also commended the state chairmen of the party for carrying on in spite of the challenges.
On the security challenge facing the country, he said though Nigeria was gradually getting to a period when he (President) would be required to give account of his stewardship, he informed the audience that he was trying his best.
He, however, said that there could have been things needed to have been done before that were not done.
But he did not mention them.
He said, “And let me join our national chairman to say that this is not a very good time for us. I assure our party that we are taking up those challenges. Perhaps, as a society there were certain things we left undone, and now we’re facing the reality.”
Jonathan, however, said that the Federal Government was providing equipment for security agencies, adding that it was as a result of this that he asked the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki(retd.) to brief members of the PDP national caucus and Board of Trustees.
Jonathan said that Boko Haram and other security challenges were not affecting PDP-controlled states because their governors were working hard.
The President said, “I assure you that those issues of equipment, and other things for the military, we’re handling them. God willing, these challenges of Boko Haram, and other criminal challenges, will soon come to be a history in Nigeria.
“While contending with the security challenges, we’re still totally committed to our developmental programmes based on the party manifesto.
“Most PDP states are doing well. Security challenges are less in the PDP states, due to the commitment of the governors. We’re working hard at the federal level because if we don’t do well, they will say what has the party done.
“By the time we give our stewardship, party members will be happy. Party members should not be afraid.”
Also speaking on the occasion, Mu’azu, who presided over the NEC meeting, his first, since he assumed office in January, said he had been able to stop the drifting of the party.
He said the defection that the party experienced had also been halted.
On the financial challenge facing the PDP, Mu’azu said a financial committee would soon be inaugurated and that the party would also hold its chairman’s dinner in order to raise funds to complete its national secretariat.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, was also absent from the meeting attended by only eight PDP governors.
The Acting Taraba State governor, the deputy governors of Kogi, Jigawa, Cross River, Plateau and Enugu states were also in attendance.
When contacted on Jonathan’s comment that the defected PDP governors could not win election even in their wards, Nyako said the President and the PDP would soon realise that they hade lost the following they once commanded.
The governor, who spoke through his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Ahmad Sajoh, said the woeful performance of the PDP during the just concluded local government election in Kano State was a prelude to the fate that would soon befall the party.
The Director of Press and Public Relations to the Kano State Governor, Baba Dantiye, said, “I am just hearing this from you, we have just arrived Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for an APC meeting. I will tell him (the governor) and if he thinks it is worth responding to, I will get back to you.”
Amaechi, through his Chief of Staff, Tony Okocha, said the President was merely pretending.
He explained that what Jonathan said was not out of place because no leader of a political party would raise the alarm that he was losing members.
He said, “The President is only pretending that the PDP is not worried. There is no way the PDP will not be worried that Kano, Sokoto and rivers, which gave him the bulk votes in 2011 have moved to the APC.
‘‘Remember that Rivers gave the PDP over two million votes. Sokoto and Kano also did same in 2011. Is it not obvious that the President is pretending in order not to create fear in the minds of members of his party?’’