President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday night hosted Chieftains of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to a Mid-term Family Dinner at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The avenue for merriments and informal interaction among party stalwarts drawn from the 36 states of the federation, turned out to be an occasion for stock-taking and projection into the future.
The chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT), Tony Anenih chose the occasion to inform party bigwigs that the members of the BOT have decided and thus proposing to the party that President Goodluck Jonathan should be given automatic ticket to contest the 2015 presidential election.
In the same vein, he said Governors elected under the umbrella platform that have done very well should also be handed automatic second term tickets in their respective states. It is not yet clear, at what point the party will ratify or reject the proposal.
The former Minister of Works decried the ongoing wrangling within the party, stressing the need to build a stronger party ahead of the 2015 elections.
He particularly lamented the division within PDP Governors which has continued to attract media attention, saying a situation where the party has two Governors fighting over the chairmanship of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) “is an embarrassment which must be urgently addressed,”.
Anenih was however optimistic that the various challenges notwithstanding, the party “at the end, we will become stronger”.
Speaking, the chief host, President Goodluck Jonathan said the Family dinner was a new avenue for party bigwigs to interact, promising that it would henceforth be held annually.
He used the occasion to react to the frequent criticism by the opposition parties, saying it was an indication that the ruling party was doing well.
“If the oppositions are holding meeting everyday and they don’t sleep, we should smile. If they start clapping for the President, then you should know something be wrong somewhere. If we are playing politics, people must conspire,” he told party faithful.
President Jonathan pledged that the ruling party would continue to protect the country and the people, calling for unity among members in the overall interest of the country.
He spoke further, “the PDP believes we must protect this country. We have no business conspiring against anybody. We don’t conspire against anybody”. All we should do is to continue to unite. We will continue to come together and we will continue to win elections”.
In his remarks, Senate President David Mark congratulated President Jonathan on his achievements in the past two years, pledging continued support of the legislature.
He also talked about the challenges confronting nation, saying every members of the family should be ready “to ensure the challenges are over. People want to be where we are because we have done well, but there is room for improvement”.
Mark also canvassed automatic tickets for members of the Senate and House of Representatives that have done well, saying they will use their experience to stabilize the polity and “continue to support Mr. President. The PDP is the winning team and am very sure nobody will change the winning team”.
In his welcome address, Political Adviser to the President, Ahmed Gulak said that the coalition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) being proposed is dead on arrival.
“The so called APC is dead on arrival if it ever arrives. Mr. President, your family members are complete in this hall. Nigerians are satisfied with your performance and Nigerians are with you.
“We tried to bark but you say we should not bark and we continue to tolerate all manners of insults. No party can win national election without us. Mr President has done well and PDP will reclaim most of the states.
“By the time we reach 29 of May 2014, Nigerians will know the best that has happened to Nigeria is Goodluck Jonathan. We will not sit back and watch this power, this government slips by us,” Gulak told the audience.
In attendance were Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, 13 Governors and three deputies, the party’s leadership and stalwarts from across the six geo-political zones as well as the 36 states party chairmen. Goodwill messages were also delivered by representatives of each of the six geo-political zones of the country.