President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday castigated members of his ruling Peoples Deocratic Party (PDP), who are defecting to the All Progressive Congress (APC), taunting them that they will return with “empty stomachs”.
The President was referring to many of his party men and women who are cross-carpeting to the APC since the victory of the opposition party in the last general elections.
Jonathan who spoke while receiving the report of his party’s Presidential Campaign Organisation at the State House, Abuja, urged party faithfuls to remain steadfast, assuring that it was only a matter of time before it bounced back.
He said the APC will first satisfy the hunger of its own members who worked during the elections before attending to defectors.
“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’s not easy. I have been here for five years plus, you hardly satisfy even 15 percent of those who work for you,” Jonathan said.
Adding, “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 you. They know you are coming because you are hungry, 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.
“PDP is still the most organized party, it is still the party that is not owned by anybody, it’s still the party that whatever you are you can get to any level with your competences and so on,” the President said.
On his decision to concede defeat, Jonathan disclosed that he did not consult anyone before making the phone call to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
“Yes I did not consult anybody before I made that phone call but I made that phone call on behalf of all you and on behalf of the PDP.
“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 2019, 2023 and so on and so forth, PDP will continue to come up strong. Even in the interest of the nation, we need PDP.
“I still believe though we have lost presidential elections, some national assembly elections, governorship elections especially in the north, PDP is still the dominant party. Let us not judge PDP by the result of the elections for the presidential elections.
He said there are various accounts of what took place during the last elections, likening it to the Nigerian Civil War of which major actors gave different accounts,
The President said his privileged position as president offered him a true account of what transpired.
“Of course the issues of this 2015 elections will be similar to the civil war because different people gave different account of the civil war.
“The first book on civil war that I read was “My Command” by Olusegun Obasanjo, which is his perspectives on what he saw and observed. I recall Ojukwu’s own was “Because I’m Involved”, if you read it, the dimensions are sometimes tangential to the first.
“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 knew a little more about elections than others,” he said.
The President noted that the key thing isn’t whether the elections were 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,” he said.
He thanked all who worked for the elections.
He alluded to predictions that Nigeria will disintegrate on the account of the post election crisis that would engulf the nation.
He said countries that sent vessels in case of an urgent need to evacuate their nationals from Nigeria, were disappointed because there was no such situation.
“The country was so tense but everything has gone down and I think that is the most important thing because the conviction is that you must have a country before you can run for an office. Nigeria is a very complex country and you must manage (it) with care.
“So let me thank you all for joining us to carry the cross, thank you for the various roles you played and I charge you to be even more committed to the development of the party. Definitely PDP will become stronger and united,” he added.
The Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Mr. Ahmadu Ali, commended the President for showing great, exemplary leadership and making the PDP proud despite its loss to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
“You made the world proud by conceding defeat even when you had several options. You proved to the world that you are committed to your credo that no one’s blood is worth your political ambition.
“By that singular act, you pulled Nigeria back from a seeming pre-determined precipice and you made us proud. While you assuredly lost in the ballots, you won the biggest victory in defeat by that historic phone call,” Ali said.
Meanwhile, spokesman of the PDP PCO, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, has said the he will remain in the party, assuring that PDP will offer quality opposition to the in-coming Buhari Administration.
He praised Jonathan for his statemanship in the conduct of the election, expressing confidence that the party will bounce back under the leadership of the out-going president.