Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said his priority now is to ensure that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) regains the presidency in 2019.
Speaking during a courtesy call on him by Chief Olabode George and his campaign team in his country home in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, on Tuesday, Jonathan took responsibility for the party’s defeat in the 2015 election and noted that it was also his responsibility to ensure the party rises, again, as a strong political platform to win the next elections.
He said: “Whether I like it or not, I must take responsibility for the defeat because I led the party to the election. The only thing that will make me sleep well is to ensure that PDP comes back to power.” The former president said he is working with other stakeholders to ensure that the party is well organised, to achieve this purpose, although he prefers to work from the back seat.
Jonathan said the party must begin to take the right steps, in the right direction, to regain the confidence of the electorate and ensure mistakes of the past were not be repeated
Speaking earlier, George, a former PDP deputy national chairman, who is currently on a nationwide campaign for the chairmanship election in December, congratulated Jonathan on his 60th birthday anniversary and urged him, as the leader of the party, to ensure that the party will emerge stronger from the forthcoming national convention. George, however, told the former president that failure to apply the micro zoning principle to the chairmanship position this time around had caused ripples capable of dividing the party.
He lamented that the party appeared to be drifting as there was no reasonable justification offered by the Senator Makarfi led National Caretaker Committee for jettisoning the principle which was applied to all previous elections to the position.
Meanwhile, the PDP has said it is not aware of the 2019 presidential ambition of the chairman of its National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye stated this at a press briefing at the party national secretariat, Wadata Plaza, Abuja, yesterday.
Adeyeye, who was reacting to accusations that Makarfi was using the national convention to advance his 2019 presidential ambition, said as far as the party is concerned, it is not yet time to talk about presidential aspirations.He said the major preoccupation of the PDP, at the moment, is the conduct of its national convention.
“As to whether senator Makarfi has presidential ambition or not, we are not aware of that.
“The national caretaker committee is not aware of that and we have not opened the flood gate for people to begin to aspire for position of the president.”
INEC has not even released timetable. I don’t know if they have released any timetable for the presidential election. We in the PDP are concerned now in putting in place a new leadership for the party which we hope will come up or emerge latest by December 9 or 10. That is our preoccupation at the national caretaker committee,” Adeyeye said.
Recall that two national chairmanship aspirants, Professor Tunde Adeniran and Chief Olabode George had accused Makarfi of giving undue advantage to a chairmanship aspirant from the South South because of his speculated presidential ambition.
But opposition spokesman said the caretaker committee takes all the statements by the chairmanship aspirants in good faith.
However, he explained that the caretaker committee is only complying with the decision of the PDP convention on the zoning of party positions between North and South.
The party spokesman said he is aware that the North has micro-zoned positions zoned to them by the national convention to geo-politcal zones and states, without recourse to the party headquarters.
He noted that on the other hand, the South has not been able to agree on the chairmanship and deputy chairmanship positions.
“As democrats and also to avoid imposition against the wish of the majority, we have opened the race to all aspirants who disagree with the micro-zoning,” he stated.
On allegations that the PDP leadership nominated supporters of its former acting chairman, Uche Secondus,into congress committees, Adeyeye said all those appointed into committees were nominated by their state chapters.
He said as part of efforts to ensure the transparency of the national convention, the caretaker committee has asked all the chairmanship aspirants to send nominees to be included in the convention committee.
Speaking on Senator representing Ogun East Senatorial district, Buruji Kashamu, who had been at logger head with the caretaker committee, Adeyeye said the Ogun senator would not escape sanction for alleged anti party activities.
According to him, Kashamu in a bid to evade sanction by the party recently obtained a court injunction restraining the PDP from sanctioning him.
However, the opposition spokesman said “The party will take a decision at the appropriate time on Senator Kashamu. It may take long but justice will be done.”
He added :”We need to remind PDP members and Nigerians that it was Senator Kashamu and those he was bankrolling that conducted parallel congresses in Edo and Ondo States. They did not stop there but took us up to Supreme Court and in the end openly endorsed and campaigned for our opponents. Their actions made us to loose the elections.”
On the just concluded Anambra governorship, the PDP spokesman said the party lost the election as a result of division in its ranks in the state.