The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party met in Abuja on Thursday with their governorship candidates and the 36 state chairmen of the party.
Although the agenda of the meeting was not made public, The PUNCH learnt that it was called to assess the party’s performance in last Saturday’s polls and to strategise ahead of the April 11 governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.
The PDP’s candidate, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, lost the presidential election to the All Progressives Congress candidate, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). The ruling party has won only 49 seats .in the Senate as against APC’s 60. There are 109 seats in the Senate.
It will be recalled that members of the PDP National Working Committee and governors held a similar meeting with the President at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday.
The PUNCH gathered that the governors of Kaduna, Ramalan Yero and Cross River State, Liyel Imoke, also attended the Thursday meeting which held at the Wadata Plaza national secretariat of the PDP.
An NWC source, who spoke on the meeting to one of our correspondents, said, “We lost the presidential election on Saturday to the opposition.
“While we must admit that it was shocking but we must forge ahead. We called the meeting to encourage our candidates for the April 11 elections that they need to work hard to be able to win well.
“You also know that our state chairmen are very key elements that are needed to galvanise our supporters and boost our chances in the forthcoming elections in the states.
“What we have done is more of a confidence–boosting meeting and we believe it will go a long way.”
Another source told one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity that the party was still in shock over the defeat suffered by its presidential candidate.
The source stated that since “those who the party trusted worked against its interest, the governorship candidates had to be advised to be careful.”
He said that the meeting could not explain why Jonathan lost badly in the entire northern states, except in about three states in the North-Central.
It was also gathered that the party agreed that all those aggrieved must be placated before the conduct of the remaining elections.
The meeting, which was chaired by the PDP National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, ended without a communiqué.
Mu’azu, who breezed out of the National Executive Committee Hall, after the meeting declined comments.
PDP accepts defeat, congratulates Buhari
Meanwhile, the PDP has congratulated Buhari for winning the presidential election.
It said if the outcome of the election was the wishes of the people, it had no choice but to respect it.
The party made this position known in a statement by Mu’azu in Abuja on Thursday.
Some of the agents of the party had during the collation of the votes in Abuja early this week said that the party would challenge the outcome of the election.
The PDP, in the statement, said that it noticed some irregularities in the conduct of the election which would be channelled through appropriate quarters.
It nevertheless went ahead to congratulate Buhari for winning the election.
The party said, “We congratulate the APC standard-bearer, Buhari, for his resilience and victory in this election while wishing him success in the onerous task of leading our nation once again.”
The PDP recalled that 16 years ago, Nigerians gave it the mandate to build, nurture and deepen democracy after three decades of military rule in our country.
It added that that historic mandate was freely given in recognition of the courageous and patriotic role of its founding fathers who championed the return of democracy and freedom in the country.
The statement read in part, “0ur party worked very hard in rebuilding and strengthening democratic institutions, tenets and norms while lifting our status as the leading democracy in Africa and one of the best in the world.
“It is incontrovertible that under the PDP-led government, our nation moved from a near pariah status to a strong actor in the international democratic arena, a product of various electoral reforms and our iron-cast commitment to transparent, free and fair electoral process at all levels.
“Even in the midst of obvious threats to our democracy, the PDP and the government it sponsored continued to stabilise the polity through strict adherence to the rule of law and liberalisation of the political and economic space.
“In the last 16 years, the PDP-led administration achieved significant milestones in our social and economic lives. We moved Nigeria from a debtor nation to Africa’s largest economy and one of the fastest growing in the world, a feat, which is accompanied with unprecedented expansion of the private sector as well as multi-sectorial infrastructural development, all, great legacies we achieved for our nation.”
It said that Nigeria was presently at the threshold of history and its defining moment for the future.
The party added, “As you are aware, in the early hours of Wednesday, April 1, 2015, the Independent National Electoral Commission returned the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj.Gen. Muhammadu Buhari(retd), as winner of the 2015 presidential election.
“However, we have received reports of serious irregularities that characterised the conduct of the election and we shall channel our protests to the appropriate quarters in line with our profound respect for the rule of law and democratic ethos.
“Our party comes with great values and tradition and we will adhere to them and ensure that nothing is done to truncate our democracy, which we have proudly worked so hard to nurture and sustain to maturity.
“Therefore, if the outcome of the election is truly the reflection of the wishes and aspirations of our citizens, the PDP will most willingly respect that wish.”
It said that what was paramount to it was the survival of democracy, the unity, peace and progress of the nation and the happiness of all the people.
The party also noted that since Nigeria is bigger than any political party, individual or group, its(Nigeria) “overall interest must be our priority at all times.”
The PDP said it was in this light that it commended its candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan, for his “heroic act in conceding to the voice of the people, an action that stands him out as a true democrat and a statesman.”
“We also congratulate Buhari for his resilience and victory in this election while wishing him success in the onerous task of leading our nation once again,” it said.
The party also commended the electorate for the peaceful manner they conducted themselves in the course of the elections.
It said the defeat the party suffered didn’t mean that its end had come .
The statement added, “For us in the PDP, we want to state in very clear terms that we are not down. We are only at our redefining moment. Rather than demoralise us, this election has afforded us great lessons and we are now more than ever before re-invigorated for the race ahead.
“As we return to the electorate for the April 11, 2015 governorship and state assembly elections, we go recharged with faith in our heart. We assure all our candidates in the remaining elections that the party will stand with you, campaign with you and work vigorously to ensure your total victory at the polls.”
PDP’ll be back in four years –Okupe
Meanwhile, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe, has said the PDP will return to power in 2019.
Okupe, who congratulated Buhari on his Facebook page on Thursday, argued that if it took Buhari 30 years to come back to power, it would take the PDP “much less to do so.”
He wrote, “It has pleased the Almighty God to give victory to Buhari, the presidential candidate of the APC and the President-elect.
“We accept this as the will of God and I personally congratulate the general on his success. We have run a good race and fought a gallant battle. We are bowed but not cowed.
“We lost the crown but we gained a trophy…. For the opportunities we have had, we give God all the glory.
“The strife is over for the next four years only. We rejoice with the APC and the people of Nigeria on the process we have jointly made in our democratic journey.
“For our democracy to endure, it is important that the winner clearly emerges while the loser concedes with equanimity.
“Certainly, we will be back. We will overcome this defeat and rise to power and glory in the twinkle of an eye.”