By Olisa Metuh
Today marks the 17th anniversary of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and we want to, through you, address our dear nation on this auspicious milestone in the history of our nation.
The PDP, as a party wishes to express profound appreciation to the Nigerian people for their support and the opportunity to lead the country for 16 years, during which we recorded unprecedented achievements despite the daunting challenges we collectively faced as a nation.
As you may be aware, this great party was founded on August 31, 1998 following the vision of pragmatic men and women of the highest integrity and outstanding ability and knowledge, who set aside the mundane demands of their varying ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds in the national interest.
We recall with pride that the founding fathers of the PDP are heroes who rose to the challenge, stood up for million of other citizens, confronted the military and restored genuine democracy, national unity and stability, entrenched the rule of law and enlarged the political space we all enjoy today.
Over the years, the PDP has shown strength as the only Nigerian political party that is completely owned and controlled by the Nigerian people; with structures in all the nooks and crannies of the country; and where no individual or group of individuals can claim ownership or allowed to appropriate the interest of the generality of the members.
This unique national outlook clearly informs PDP’s irrevocable stance on politics of national integration which ensured that no group or section in the polity is excluded from power, public office and spread of development projects, in line with the federal character principle of our great country.
The PDP stands tall in history as the first political party in Nigeria to nurture and sustain democratic system of government and a stable polity uninterrupted for 16 years. This did not come by accident, but through meticulous application, by successive PDP administrations, of policies as enshrined in the party’s ideology and manifesto, which within the ambit of the laws, achieved and sustained success in all sectors of the polity and economy.
When the PDP took office in 1999, it quickly formed government and calmly, but vigorously applied itself to service, initiating reforms, and facing the challenges inherited from past military regimes, without resorting to blames, blackmail and propaganda.
At the time PDP came to power, Nigeria’s image internationally was in a deplorable state, with very poor human rights records. The onus of restoring it from its pariah status then rested squarely on the PDP-led government, which it successfully executed, returning the nation to its pride of place in the comity of nations.
The PDP-led government under former President Olusegun Obasanjo went further to work assiduously to settle foreign debts accumulated by previous administrations and extricated the nation’s economy from burdens of the London and Paris Clubs debt overhang.
Furthermore, in line with the determination to establish a moral and ethical society guided by such core values as honesty, integrity and justice, as contained in its manifesto, the PDP administration set up the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit, otherwise known as Due Process Unit, which ensured transparency in government procurements and spending.
The PDP government, in the same vein, immediately established the two major anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), with strict establishing and operation laws to ensure effectiveness and immunity from executive interferences. Down the years, SERVICOM desks were opened in ministries and agencies to further ensure ethical standards in government businesses.
As a result of this deliberate policies, human right and business friendly environment were created and it saw to the massive return of Nigerians in the Diaspora and the influx of direct foreign investments into the country.
Also, in keeping with the vision of our founding fathers to build a qualitative democratic society, successive PDP administrations for 16 years nurtured and sustained national unity and cohesion through strict application of the principles of federal character and social justice, for equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities.
We initiated series of amendments to the constitution to make it more responsive to the wishes and aspirations of the people; reformed the electoral system to allow for greater political participation, granted operational independence to INEC, enacted the Freedom of Information law, while upholding the sanctity of the rule of law in all sectors of the polity.
To reposition the economy for greater productivity, successive PDP administrations applied an economic policy, which enhanced a dynamic economy, in which market forces are combined with the forces of partnership, solidarity and cooperation to boost private sector participation and emergence of an empowered middle class system in the country.
“As you are aware, the hallmark of the PDP administration was anchored on the policy of transfer of wealth from the public sector to hardworking and enterprising Nigerians. This resulted in the rapid expansion of the nation’s economic frontiers with an unprecedented growth in small and medium scale enterprises, which helped in providing employment for millions of our citizens across the country.
It is incontrovertible that within the 16 years of successive PDP administrations, more businesses opened in the country in all sectors of the economy; in telecommunication (with one the world fastest GSM and internet penetrations), transport, aviation, hospitality, education, agriculture, the media, automobile, real estate, oil and gas, food processing, among others, than in any other period in the nation’s history.
“In the same vein, hitherto weak banking sector was repositioned and strengthened, thereby providing support for businesses and restoring investors’ confidence in our system. By 2015, the PDP has grown our nation’s economy to the largest in Africa and one of the fastest growing in the world.
Under the PDP administration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, our nation witnessed the successful unbundling of the power sector with massive investments, resulting in the construction and rehabilitation of various power projects. This is in addition to investments in oil and gas sector including the Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of our oil refineries, which dividends, the nation is now enjoying.
In the works, transport and aviation sectors, yearly investments by PDP administrations resulted in the revitalization of the railways, inland water ways, remodeling and reequipping of our aviation system to international standard, rehabilitation and construction of thousands of kilometers of roads and bridges across our country.
Similar yearly investments by successive PDP administrations changed the face of agriculture in our country from a development Programme to a business for national wealth creation, focusing on the private sector. By 2014 our national food production had expanded by an additional 21 million metric tons, a record, exceeding the national set target of 20 million metric tons for 2015.
In education and health, meticulous execution of deliberate policies resulted in significant achievements. While healthcare become more affordable and accessible, series interventionist initiatives in life threatening diseases such as malaria, fibroid, HIV and AIDS, VVF, Hepatitis, Sickle Cell Anemia, cardiac related ailments, polio which was successfully eradicated in 2014, among others, culminating in an unprecedented 50% drop in maternal mortality and increase in national life expectancy by 2015.
In education, while all levels of learning received adequate attention, the National Open University of Nigeria was established to boost opportunity for tertiary learning. By the end of first quarter of 2015, 14 new universities were established by the immediate past PDP administration to ensure that all states in the federation has a federal university, in addition to the establishment of the Almajiri system of education in the northern parts to ensure that no Nigerian child is denied access to education.
As you are aware, one of the major challenges we faced was security. Despite the daunting challenges, successive PDP administrations ensured a well-equipped military, police and para-military agencies to tackle external and internal aggressions and ensure safety of lives and property.
The record ending of the Niger Delta militancy by the Late Umaru Yar’Adua-led PDP administration, using the Amnesty Initiative, the containing of kidnapping menace in the south east, the drastic reduction in cases of highway criminality, using a combination of combat system and regulations on electronic money transfer, and the vigourous confrontation of the fight against insurgency in the North east, all give credence to the efforts of the PDP.
Also, the passing into law of “The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2011” which provides for prevention, prohibition and combating of acts of terrorism, the reequipping of the armed forces with officers and men undergoing retraining to enhance operations and professionalism; the streamlining of security agencies for better cohesion of their roles, including improved intelligence gathering and sharing, which are now being deployed in the services are all to the credit of the PDP.
Gentlemen of the press, despite our temporary electoral setback in the last election, the PDP is a success story. Unarguably, the PDP is still the only pan-Nigeria party, wholly committed to the Nigerian project, accommodating all national interest and whose only agenda remains the unity, stability and prosperity of Nigeria and its people.
While we restate our gratitude to the Nigerian electorate who stood by us in our 16 years in government at the center, and who for obvious reasons now have greater confidence in us than before, we deeply celebrate past and present leaders of our party, past and present members of our National Executive Committee (NEC), past and present elected government officials at the national and state levels, our development partners and teeming members nationwide.
As we play our new opposition role, the PDP as a highly responsible party, will continue to provide a firm but credible opposition, presenting alternatives to the programmes and policies of the present government while firmly standing on the side of the citizens in opposing acts and policies that are inimical to the health of the nation and the happiness of the people.
We therefore call on all well-meaning Nigerians to continue to support the PDP as it relentlessly pursue and defend those values and tenets that ensure our unity, stability and prosperity as one people under God.
Long Live The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)!
Long Live The Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Chief Olisa Metuh
National Publicity Secretary