As a party that heralded Nigeria’s return to de­mocracy in 1999, the PDP had become so accus­tomed to success in its 16 years in power that the first time our fortunes changed at the polls, it was obvious that the party would suffer the aftershocks of the loss. It was in deed a most trying period for us as a politi­cal party.
However, it is not an experi­ence that is peculiar to us. This because all over the world, any party that loses election at the centre as we did, will first of all, struggle to hold together, before regaining its composure to effectively present the strong voice of the opposition, and re­sume the contestation to return to office.
But we thank God that the worst is over for our party. It is to His grace that we were able to emerge from this unsavoury experience, from which some political parties in other emerg­ing democracies hardly recover, to become even stronger, with­in a short period of time.
The PDP is indeed back to reclaim its prime position as the party to lead Nigeria to greatness. As a human institu­tion we cannot claim perfec­tion, but obviously as a political party, our accomplishments as at 2015, far outweigh our short­falls.
Our giant developmental strides are there for all Nigeri­ans to see. There is ample evi­dence to demonstrate that PDP has indeed proved to be a party of vision and accomplishments.
As I said when I addressed our members in April during the stakeholders’ forum which I convened; the 2011, 2015 gen­eral elections and other polls conducted by our administra­tion were accepted globally to have met the international standards for free, fair and transparent elections. There is no gainsaying the fact that our disposition in freely handing over power to the opposition, after the 2015 polls, helped to deepen our democracy, and project our country as one of the world’s stable democracies.
This wouldn’t have been pos­sible if our government did not reform the electoral and political process, by giving the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the au­tonomy it requires, to enable it to conduct free and fair elec­tions.
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 our time in power. The effect was that we tamed inflation at a single digit, main­tained price stability, grew the economy to become the largest in Africa with a GDP of over half a trillion US dollars, and the number one foreign direct investment destination on the continent.
I learnt that some people said that if PDP had remained in power beyond 2015, the econ­omy would have performed worse. This couldn’t have been the case, because we had a sound economic team in place, managing the economy. Let us not forget that the great floods of 2012 was a major calamity that damaged homes and farm­lands on the plains of River Ni­ger and Benue. But despite the devastating effect of this natu­ral disaster, there was no food shortages or arbitrary increase in prices, because of what we were able to accomplish with our Agriculture Transforma­tion Agenda, which consider­ably boosted food production.
If we say that we rekindled hope in our people 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 countries across the globe, a few of which I will mention here.
We can all recall that our ag­ricultural transformation agen­da rapidly transformed key ag­ricultural value chains, boosted local production, and created a new generation of young com­mercial farmers and agriculture entrepreneurs we proudly iden­tified as Nagropreneurs. One very remarkable achievements of the reform we introduced was that it ended decades of fertilizer sector corruption through electronic wallet sys­tem. Since then, its success has continued to resonate outside our shores. The programme is not only being scaled up by the African Development Bank, but is already being replicated in close to 20 African countries.
In fact, three days ago, my attention was drawn to The Guardian newspaper publica­tion about a contract that has just been awarded to a Nige­rian IT solutions firm, Cel­lulant, to export the e-wallet system which we conceived, to Afghanistan. This is in deed, a good development for our country.
I understand that the Min­istry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock in Afghanistan, which contracted them in their bid to establish a market-based input distribution technology, might have been inspired by our own experience, in suc­cessfully deploying the e-wallet technology to increase food production.
In the same vein, Our Youth Enterprises with Innovation (YouWin) designed to turn thousands of youths into en­trepreneurs and employers of labour, has been endorsed by the World Bank for replication in other developing countries.
The ECOWAS Commission has since expressed interest in partnering with Nigeria with a view to establishing an automo­tive policy for the sub-region, in line with our administra­tion’s auto industry develop­ment policy, which led to the establishment of many vehicle assembly plants, including in­digenous companies.
Our approach to fight­ing corruption may not have plugged all the leaks in the sys­tem; in fact, no nation has ever been successful in eradicating the cankerworm of corruption.
But we went about it in a sustainable and measurable manner, by, among other mea­sures, creating institutional tools like bank verification number (BVN), the treasury single account (TSA) designed to block leakages, as well as the Integrated Payroll and Person­nel Information (IPPIS), which eliminated tens of thousands of ghost workers, during our time.
I have just pointed out these few programmes, out of our other numerous great achieve­ments in such sectors as roads infrastructure, rail services, communications, public finan­cial management and social services, for you to know that our records, as members of Ni­geria’s biggest party, still speak for us and we should be proud of them.
We should always celebrate the fact that the PDP intro­duced key policies that im­proved governance, enhanced welfare, boosted and stabilized the economy of our great coun­try, and above all, gave our peo­ple hope.
In closing, I wish to remind all of us that as politicians, we are bound to have differences. It is important we manage our differences responsibly, with an eye on the divine role of the PDP to lead Nigeria to great­ness. Let us rededicate our­selves to playing by the rules.
Let us all ensure that the PDP is renewed in vigour to deliver on its divine responsibility to Nigerians. Let us forget the grievances of the past, and look to the future with confidence and optimism.
While I congratulate all del­egates to this convention, I urge you to go back to your respec­tive constituencies to promote the ideals of our great party. Let it be known that our party has been born anew, committed to the best ideals of democracy.
Let it be known, in all nooks and crannies of our country, that the PDP is back to claim its rightful place in the affairs of the nation. As we have always done, we are ready to return Ni­geria to the path of unity, peace and prosperity.
I congratulate the Caretaker Committee, our relentless gov­ernors, the Board of Trustees, National Assembly caucuses, former governors, the ex-Ministers’ Forum, our teeming youths and women for your steadfastness and dogged con­tributions to the sustenance of this great party.
My appreciation also goes to all PDP members and support­ers, both at home and in the Di­aspora. I thank the Convention Planning Committee for put­ting this August event together. God bless the People’s Demo­cratic Party! God bless the Fed­eral Republic of Nigeria!!
•An address by ex-President (Dr.) Goodluck Ebele Jona­than, GCFR, at PDP’s non-elective convention on August 12, 2017.

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