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President Goodluck Jonathan has said despite the crisis currently rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it is still the party to beat in the country.
The President stated this during an interview with journalists in Paris, France, shortly before departing for Nigeria at the end of two day summit on peace and security in Africa hosted by President Francois Hollande.
He spoke in reaction to the recent defection of five of the seven aggrieved governors of the PDP to the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC).
The aggrieved governors of the party, members of the ‘New PDP, announced a merger with and defected to the APC. The governors included Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Babangida Aliyu (Niger), Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano) and Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto).
Messrs Lamido and Aliyu later declared that they were not part of the merger and were still part of the PDP.
In his reaction, the President said that while the party will continue to pursue the path of reconciliation with the aggrieved governors, their defection will not hamper the success of PDP in future elections.
“We want those governors to come back to PDP, but in an event where some of them feel that it is better outside, they can also go and try.
“If they are leaving, we will work harder to make sure that we get more supporters so that at the end of the day, that equilibrium will be maintained.
“But I still believe that in Nigeria today, PDP is still the party to beat. As they are leaving the ruling party to the opposition, there are other key political actors who are ready to come to PDP. At the appropriate time, we will also receive them,’’ he said.
He noted that the game of politics is dynamic and “a governor elected by the people must not see himself as a king’’ who could lord himself over the electorates.
“I was elected by Nigerians and I will not say because I am a President of Nigeria now, the 100 per cent of Nigeria are for me and when I am moving to the left or right I will be moving with the whole 100 per cent.
“Like the governor of a State, a faction of a state elected you by simple majority and you are declared as a governor.
“When you are moving you should know that you are an individual, not all your supporters will want to move with you.
“They are not your employees, therefore, some of your supporters will stay,” the president said.
Mr. Jonathan hinted that “in some cases, the deputy governors in the States are saying that they are not ready to move.
“It will be an interesting thing, and I have said that let us see how it will play out.
“However, in politics any party will want everybody in its camp and in PDP we want everybody”.
The president, who has met with Messrs Lamido and Aliyu since the other five governors decamped, said not all the five aggrieved governors have moved to the opposition party.
“Yes they said they have some grievances with the party and some of them said they were going to leave.
“But so far, two have openly declared that they are not leaving the party and we are talking to them.
“Out of the remaining five, two appears that they have actually moved to the other political party while some are still on the fence.
“I believe in the couples of weeks, it will not be too long. it will be very clear whether they are leaving or not,’’ he said.