Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan who once said ‘stealing is not corruption’ has for the first time agreed that his administration did not plug all loopholes in its bid to end corruption in the country.
But he said it was wrong to assume or say that the economy would have been in a worse shape if his administration had not been voted out of power in 2015.
The former president said this on Saturday at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) non-elective national convention, which was held at the Eagle Square, Abuja.
Jonathan, who was accompanied to the podium by his former deputy, Mr. Namadi Sambo, some serving and former governors, including chieftains of the party, also delved into the achievements which he said were recorded during his administration.
Though he was armed with a prepared speech, the former president appeared to be angry, especially when he made some statements outside his prepared text.
Apparently not satisfied with the bashing his government has been receiving from Nigerians, especially over the looting of the treasury by some of the officials who served in his government, the former president promised to talk soon.
He said even though there was a major flood disaster in the country in 2012, his government made sure that the prices of agricultural products did not go up.
Jonathan said, “Though we didn’t completely plug the loopholes in the fight against corruption, but we did well.
“I learnt that some people said that if the PDP had remained in power beyond 2015, the economy would have been worse. This couldn’t have been the case, because we had a sound economic team in place.
“Let us not forget that the great floods of 2012 were a major calamity that damaged homes and farmlands on the plains of River Niger and Benue.
“But despite the devastating effects of this natural disaster, there were no food shortages or arbitrary increase in prices, because of what we were able to accomplish with our agriculture transformation agenda, which considerably boosted food production.
“If we say that we rekindled hope in our people and regained international goodwill, it is because we pursued a number of policies and programmes that were not only richly rewarding for our people, but were also being copied by many countries across the globe, a few of which I will mention here.”
On the economic front, he said his government provided focused leadership through institutional and sectoral reforms which he said impacted positively on the fundamentals for growth, especially in the last four years of his time in power.
He said the effect was that his government was able to reduce inflation to a single digit, maintain price stability, grow the economy to become the largest in Africa with a GDP of over half a trillion US dollars, and the number one foreign direct investment destination on the continent.
He expressed hope that the party would regain power in 2019, but begged its members to close ranks and remain committed. He also asked them not to be jittery or allow anyone to intimidate them, saying that God loves the former ruling party.
“The PDP is indeed back to reclaim its prime position as the party to lead Nigeria to greatness. As a human institution we cannot claim perfection, but obviously as a political party, our accomplishments as of 2015 far outweigh our shortfalls,” he said.
Jonathan added, “Nobody should intimidate the PDP. I believe in the PDP; even God Himself believes in the PDP. Today is August 12, look at the weather.
“God wants us to celebrate in the PDP, that’s why there is no rain. We are ready to take over the state houses of assembly, the National Assembly, the states as governors and the Presidency.
“It is important we manage our differences responsibly, with an eye on the divine role of the PDP to lead Nigeria to greatness. Let us rededicate ourselves to playing by the rules.
“Let us all ensure that the PDP is renewed in vigour to deliver on its divine responsibility to Nigerians. Let us forget the grievances of the past and look to the future with confidence and optimism.
“I urge you to go back to your respective constituencies to promote the ideals of our great party. Let it be known that our party has been born anew, committed to the best ideals of democracy.”
He called on members of the party to pronounce the rebirth of the party in every part of the country, adding that “the PDP is back to claim its rightful place in the affairs of the nation. As we have always done, we are ready to return Nigeria to the path of unity, peace and prosperity.”
Culled from PUNCH