Mr Chairman, our dear delegates, today is another great day in the history of our great Party; The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and indeed in the history of our great Nation.
Nothing gives me greater joy, as leader of our party, than such an opportunity as presented today, for direct interaction with so many enthusiastic and dedicated fellow party members, and may I add, all proudly dressed in our party colours and regalia.
It is also my pleasure to be here as a delegate today and I welcome whole heartedly all our delegates, party members and all Nigerians, from across the country and beyond; including those joining us by television and online, as we gather here in the Eagle Square, to reaffirm the noble democratic traditions and foundations, that bind us together.
I thank the Party and the Organizing Committee for a successful convention. I thank all the delegates for a smooth nomination process. Let me congratulate, the Chairman of our great Party, the game changer, Alhaji Ahmed Adamu Muazu. I have no doubt that the democratic process we have witnessed here today, and his confirmation as Party chairman, are both pointers to the consolidation of democracy in our country as a whole.
There is no doubt that his commitment to the ideals of our party, his consistency and hard work, has helped to reposition the party. And today we are stronger, bigger, and more in tune with the yearnings of our people. Let me also congratulate Professor Wale Oladipo and Alhaji Adewale Adeyanju whose appointments as National Secretary and National Auditor, respectively, have been ratified at this Convention.
Nigeria is undergoing great changes at this time, and also experiencing great challenges; so, political parties must rise above the fray, to provide hope and clear direction, to propel the development of our country.
As expected in every contest, especially political contests, the journey to this convention has not been without issues in some constituencies. Indeed, Party Congresses from the ward to state levels, and the legislative and state primaries, have produced both triumphs and some misgivings.
Without prejudice to various on-going resolution mechanisms, we will take steps, after the elections to review and refine the candidate selection procedures within our party. An appropriate committee will be set up to work on this, with contributions across board.
I commend the efforts of the supervising and appeal committee members, who travelled across the country to conduct and oversee the primaries and congresses.
I appreciate also the dedication of the various working committees and special committees engaged in organising and delivering all aspects of the election season programmes. Fellow delegates, dear party members, while we congratulate our candidates who have emerged at the primaries, we must reassure all our members, that our party remains a large, accommodating and responsible party.
We will make sure that conflicts are amicably resolved and that the genuine interest of every member is respected and assured. As party members, we must be conscious of the responsibility we hold to our Nation. The political party is the vehicle for national organisation, and the PDP is the foremost political party in Nigeria.
For the sake of the entire nation, we must, at this time, more than ever, stand together as one united party. We are all joint stake holders, this party belongs to all of us. What we have achieved today should be a lesson to all who care about Nigeria. What we have done exemplifies our unity.
What we have done exemplifies our determination. What we have done exemplifies our purpose. We are a Party that accepts challenges. We are a Party that confronts those challenges. But above all, we are a Party that resolves challenges.
And it is exactly these qualities that will lead us to victory. Distinguished Delegates, ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you as your humble servant, to accept your nomination as the Presidential candidate of our great Party, the PDP.
Having placed great faith in me and chosen me as your candidate, I assure you, that I am truly honoured tonight, to lead another electoral contest. This will be a campaign, and an election, that will serve to consolidate our successes. I will give my all. I will not let you down. I will not fail the PDP. I will not fail you. Above all, I promise, I will not fail our great nation, Nigeria. This convention shows that we are ready. The PDP is ready.
Nigerians know we are ready. And today in Abuja, we begin the next phase of our mission. Our mission is to secure Nigeria’s future. First of all, let me give gratitude to God Almighty who has sustained the nation. There is much to say, but permit me some special words of gratitude. These last four years have not always been easy, but through it all, my wife has effortlessly taken care of our home.
So to you, my companion and my foremost supporter, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I also want to thank, the Vice President, my brother, Arch Namadi Sambo, and his dear wife. You have both provided loyal support and commitment to this presidency; working with you for our people, has been a pleasure.
The work and progress recorded these past four years has been possible because we have had the best team possible. The Ministers, Advisers, Assistants and staff that have formed the Transformation team, have shown great dedication, creativity and loyalty. They have put in extra hours when necessary, and always gone the extra mile to ensure delivery.
Today, I thank them fervently for their patriotism and hard work. Our Party, the PDP, has been the foundation of our Transformation Agenda.
I thank the Chairman and Party Executive at all levels, the Board of Trustees and National Working Committee, the PDP Governors Forum, Federal and state legislators, Secretariat Staff and volunteers, across the country. You have played your part well, and I am indeed very grateful. It is not a mere coincidence that our National Convention this year starts on the same day as the United Nations World Human Rights Day.
This government, led by our Party, has made the respect of human rights and individual freedoms, the cornerstone of our administration. I did say during my declaration on November 11, 2014, that we are proud that no Nigerian has been exiled or imprisoned on our watch, for holding contrary views.
We must ensure that we continue to water the tree bearing the fruits of freedom, for our beloved people. In the last 16 years, the PDP has kept faith with the Nigerian people by promoting and projecting a united nation, under God. We have united our people around common national goals for the good of our citizens and the development of our nation.
Through its years of office, our great Party, the PDP created the Anti-corruption agencies, that is, the EFCC and the ICPC, the Excess Crude Account, the Pension Reforms, Fiscal Responsibility Regime, the Sovereign Wealth Fund and various privatization programmes.
We initiated Debt Relief, the Amnesty Programme, the Presidential Jobs Creation Board, Power Sector Reforms and the National Infrastructure Master-plan; the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan, the National Automobile Policy, the Freedom of Information regime, the Nigerian Mortgage Refinancing Company, and the Infrastructure Bank, amongst others.
At the advent of democracy in 1999, Nigeria’s GDP was 35.9 billion US dollars. Today, it is 510 billion US dollars – and we have become Africa’s biggest economy. In 1999, our debt to GDP Ratio was 93.1%. Today, it is 13.6 % of which external debt to GDP ratio is 1.89%. As at 1999, only 400,000 telephone lines were active in our country.
Today, we have about 120 million lines, which have created many more jobs for our youths. This administration is also working to revitalize our insurance industry. Compared to other emerging economies, our insurance industry has not achieved its full potential.
Today, only 3 million of our citizens are insurance policy holders, and overall insurance penetration is less than 0.5 percent of our GDP. We want to transform this sector, just as we have done for our banking sector and our pensions industry. Our goal is to grow the total insurance premiums in our country from 300 billion naira currently to 1 trillion naira in the next three years. And to increase the number of direct jobs created in this sector from about 30,000 people today to over 100,000 people in the next few years.
My brothers and sisters, the PDP as a party has delivered on its promise. In the last decade, it has seen to the largest expansion of the middle class in Africa. Certainly, our Party has a rich history of enduring legacies. For those who defected from the PDP, I enjoin you to tell the truth in your campaigns.
Many of the developments in your States were initiated by the PDP. So be honest with the voters and give credit where it is due. In adopting the umbrella as our symbol, we have become the umbrella of the nation. Our politics has not been defined by our differences, but in forging the bond of oneness.
After our victory at the polls in 2011, we articulated a TRANSFORMATION AGENDA, which we have faithfully implemented. The agenda has created the framework of our desire to promote and deepen access to economic and social benefits, through equal opportunities.
The Transformation Agenda is helping to secure Nigeria’s future. Thanks to this Agenda we have remained focused, calculated and measured in our decision-making. We have focused on sustainable gains, rather than quick fixes. We have remained committed to our national maxim of Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress. Today, it is to our collective credit as a nation, that in spite of our challenges, our unity remains solid.
All across our nation, the positive gains of the Transformation Agenda are being progressively enjoyed by our people. During this campaign, some office seekers will say it is “time for change”, but while they were changing from one name to another and from one party to the other, we had already brought change to Nigeria. My dear delegates, Has change not come to our railway system? Has change not come to our airports? Has change not come to our roads network? Has change not come to our agricultural sector? Has change not come to our electoral process? Has change not come to Almajiri education? Is change not coming to the power sector? Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, what we need today is to consolidate on our gains in order to secure our future.
Our focus now must be on the future and not on the past. We have challenges but we are determined to overcome them. And this we will.
These last four years, my priority has been in building a strong and stable economy. We have created the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
These are essentials for securing Nigeria’s future. Back in 2008 and 2009, the country faced strong economic challenges arising from unstable oil prices, but we confronted it consciously and overcame.
As the economic challenges of oil price-fall, looms in the months ahead, Nigeria needs tested hands that will provide certainty, in an uncertain world.
We have a strong and capable economic team, which has already worked out strategies to manage the oil price volatility and curtail its effects. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our fight against corruption is on course. Our systematic efforts have been acknowledged and we will do more in the coming years.
Corruption degrades development; we will continue this fight, without compromise. In the past four years we have run our administration with respect for the principle of separation of powers between the different arms of government.
The judiciary and the legislature have independently and introspectively pursued their own reforms and greater self-expression. With a fresh mandate, we shall push for increased intra-party and bi-partisan harmony, within the legislature, and between the executive and the legislature.
The duty of national development must never be hindered by the over-politicization of interests; this is what we owe our people, and our nation. Dear party faithful, beyond security and corruption, there exist environmental challenges, such as desertification, which is threatening the lives of our people, especially in the frontline states of Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Jigawa, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.
We have responded most appropriately by implementing the Great Green Wall Programme for which we have released over 16 billion Naira. Our determination to provide a buffer of greenery that will stop the advancement of the desert and reverse the many losses of farmlands and grazing grounds, streams and aquatic life, among others, remains strong. Similar programmes are being implemented to save communities from erosion in the West, East, and the South-South parts of the country. On my watch, the security of all citizens shall continue to be of utmost priority.
With the exception of the civil war, never before in the history of our country have we faced the level of threat we see today. I
assure all Nigerians that this Government will continue to do whatever is required to provide the security we deserve. It is encouraging that the security situation is improving, and by the grace of God, elections will be conducted in all states of the federation. I call on all Nigerians, irrespective of party or belief, to join me in this fight against insurgency and terror.
We must be united. Bickering and quarrels only serve to send the wrong signals to terrorists and insurgents, that we are divided in this fight. More importantly it can also demoralise our dedicated and brave armed forces. This would be wrong. For this reason, we must remain united.
I believe that together as a people and with God on our side, we shall defeat terror and emerge an even stronger nation. The experience in many countries shows that there may be a tendency for the escalation of violence in an election year. We must not succumb to blackmail. We must be vigilant – every one of us.
Only by united action, can we defeat terrorism. I salute our gallant armed forces and security agencies who are doing their best to keep our people safe. We shall continue to ensure that they have the best in terms of equipment, training and conditions.
I appeal to our countrymen and women to provide them with the fullest support, and not to fall victim to those who fan the embers of terror. As a political party, we must rededicate ourselves to the work of securing our future.
We are the party of the people, and not just the elite. We must lift the poor out of the depth of want, onto the ladder of prosperity. We will work to ensure that no child suffers from basic needs.
We must create equal opportunities for women and the physically challenged. We must give a voice to all Nigerians. And we can do all this! Nigeria is not a land of despair. We are a people who show commitment and unity of purpose.
Just look at how we stood up to the Ebola Virus Disease. We are a hard-working nation. And we will go from strength to strength. Our best days are before us, not behind us. We must continue to move forward. In accepting your nomination as flag bearer for the Presidential Election, I once more accept the challenge to serve our party and nation. I will continue the work we have begun with the Transformation Agenda.
I will work to secure Nigeria’s future. I will serve with humility and moderation, with simplicity and forthrightness; with openness and inclusiveness, and with firmness and strength. I urge all Nigerians to support me, to finish what we started together. Fellow citizens, what we need, more than anything else, is to secure our country’s future, by building, and not by destroying.
We can continue to build upon the foundations we have laid so far, we can continue with our economic progress, we can continue improving our infrastructure, we can continue delivering better health care, we can continue to improve our agriculture and we can continue to safeguard individual liberties and freedoms.
The choice before Nigerians in the coming election is simple: A choice between going forward or going backwards; between the new ways and the old ways; between freedom and repression; between a record of visible achievements and beneficial reforms – and desperate power-seekers with empty promises.
Fellow Delegates, dear Party members, so much is at stake. Let me remind everyone – party leaders, mobilizers, members, men, women and youth – that the hard work has only just started. As your Presidential candidate and Party leader, I hereby commission all delegates and party faithful, as my campaign mobilizers, to take our message of unity and development back to your respective states and communities, and to ensure victory for all candidates of the PDP in the forthcoming elections.
Working Together, we will do it! Our political opponents shall assail us with the fury of their desperation to win power. They will use every means – intimidation, false accusations, hostile media and more. Do not descend to their level. We must stay focused on the mission at hand – to secure Nigeria’s future. Let me emphasise again, that nobody’s political ambition is worth the blood of any Nigerian. We must eschew violence, even in the face of the most outrageous acts of desperation. We must make sure our supporters have their voter’s cards.
We must get them motivated and eager to make their mark. It will be a mark for our children. It will be a mark for a stronger economy. A mark that will secure Nigeria’s future. So my dear Party Men and Women, let us take this campaign to every Nigerian, every home and every community. We will campaign in peace.
We will campaign with hope in our hearts. We will campaign on the facts and the truth. We will campaign with issues and ideas. We will campaign on our record of performance. We will campaign to win.
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me at this point invite to join me on this podium, the Chairman of our great party, Alhaji Ahmed Adamu Muazu; the Chairman of our Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih; the Senate President, Senator David Mark and his wife; my dear brother, the Vice President, Architect Namadi Sambo and his wife, and particularly, my dear wife, the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan.
I seize the opportunity of this occasion to formally announce that as we commence the campaign for the 2015 Presidential elections, Architect Mohammed Namadi Sambo, a loyal and tested partner, a dependable, trustworthy gentleman and a true patriot will be my running mate and Vice Presidential candidate once again. With your continued support and the blessing of God Almighty, Vice President Sambo and I will campaign together to win another resounding victory for our great party in the coming elections. God bless you all.
God bless our great Party, the PDP God bless Nigeria I thank you all.
*President Goodluck Jonathan’s acceptance speech at the PDP convention.
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