The Peoples Democratic Party remains Nigeria’s strongest and biggest party despite losing the 2015 presidential election and will win the next general election, former President Goodluck Jonathan has said.
Mr. Jonathan said current efforts at reforming the party are “a clear sign” the PDP will win in 2019.
The former president said this on Monday in Abuja while receiving a report from the Strategy Review and Inter-Party Affairs Committee of the PDP.
“Yes we lost the presidential election, but that doesn’t diminish us. Every other party still knows that PDP is a leading party,” said Mr. Jonathan who received the team in his House in Abuja.
“Losing the presidency is something temporary. We should be able to get that position back as long as we are able to get our acts together. I am happy that you people are working towards that,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan was the party’s candidate in the 2015 election but lost to the then opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The former president also said that direct primary, especially under presidential system of government, was the ultimate and best way of selecting candidates for elections.
He, however, remarked that the greatest problem was how to manage the direct primaries.
He said that for a party like the PDP, with membership across all polling units, it meant that voting would take place at wards or local government levels.
“The best way to stop imposition is to make sure that people don’t control the delegates.
“How to select delegate is that at least 70 percent of the delegates should not be under the control of anybody.”
Mr. Jonathan said if the party could not do direct primaries, it should make sure that it increased the number of statutory delegates with people who had held elected or party offices at different levels.
He said that the party could come up with criteria where its national chairman, state chairpersons, Senators and others in offices that control the government were made statutory delegates.
“All these group of people, if they are still in the party, should be automatic delegates.
“These are people that are known by everybody and nobody can go and manipulate them or their names.
“By the time we have a reasonable number of statutory delegates who are more than 75 per cent of total delegates that will vote, then, it will be difficult for somebody to go and manipulate the list,” he said.
Mr. Jonathan commended the committee for the report as well as the Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee for the vision in setting up the committee.
“This is the only way to strengthen political parties. It is a clear sign that PDP will win in 2019,” he said.
Presenting the report earlier, Chairman of the committee, Jerry Gana, said that they had submitted the report to the party leadership last Tuesday and were directed to submit a copy to the former president.
Mr. Gana said the report contained thoughtful recommendations that would help PDP to be strong and win future elections.
Mr. Jonathan also said that building strong institutions is key in the development of a nation.
He said that he had the strong belief that for a nation to grow, its institutions must be very strong.
“There is no way a nation will grow with weak institutions, because everything about politics is about the people, not about the individuals.
“As long you are interested in the people, you are interested in the growth of the society and the development of the nation.
“The only thing that will make this possible is that the institutions must be strong.
“You see as powerful as America, look at President Donald Trump’s decision and the court said ‘no you can’t do this’ and of course, they have to shoot down the decision to move forward.
“That is the strength of an institution. That is the only way individuals could be regulated so that you can grow,” Mr. Jonathan said.