(ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SENATOR, DR. IFEANYI OKOWA, GOVERNOR OF DELTA STATE AND CHAIRMAN, PLANNING COMMITTEE, PDP SPECIAL NON-ELECTIVE NATIONAL CONVENTION, ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 12, 2017).
I welcome you all to this Special Non-elective National Convention of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party.
2. I begin this short address by thanking the National Caretaker Committee for the confidence reposed in us to serve as Chairman/Members of the Planning Committee for this Special Convention. This noble call to service of our great party is humbling and uplifting, as well as tasking and rewarding at the same time. On a personal note, I reckon it a thing of great joy and privilege to be saddled with the responsibility of heading one of the Committees created to kick-start the process of rebuilding and rebranding our great party, the PDP.
3. Let me also offer special thanks to all the members of the Planning Committee/Sub-committees for their sacrifice and hard work to make this day a reality. To all of you, I say congratulations for a job well done. I am greatly inspired by your desire, drive and commitment to the PDP course. We look forward to more of your hard work and commitment as we all embark on the journey of recapturing the lost glory of our great party, the PDP.
4. I must not also forget all the Nigerians who are desirous for the PDP to get its act together and play the role of a strong and vibrant opposition, which is critical for sustainable democracy in the country. The prayers of these Nigerians were answered with the heart-warming Supreme Court judgment that thankfully halted the drift into chaos and bifurcation of our great party. Today, let it be known to all Nigerians who prayed for us during our time of travail that the PDP is back with a bang. We shall NOT disappoint you!
5. No doubt, the last two years have been the greatest test that our great party has faced. The loss of the 2015 presidential election, the gale of defections that ensued and the leadership crisis that factionalised the party were enough to sink the PDP ship. That the party survived this baptism of fire is an eloquent testimony to the resiliency of its grassroots structure, organisation and appeal. Ours is a party firmly anchored to the grassroots, connected to the people in a unique way that recognises that power truly belongs to the people. We are rebounding back. We must realise that there is a champion in each and everyone of us in the party, and that a collective leadership and partnership, resolved to do things right is all that we need to build the strength to recapture power.
6. We cannot shy away from the fact that there are lessons to be learnt also. For with our defeat at the presidential election, the loss of many States at the governorship election, and the slide into minority in the National Assembly came the sobering lesson that the PDP had become a victim of its own success. Internal democracy took a backstage, aggrieved party members were disregarded and impunity became the order of the day at various leadership levels in the party. In short, we cut short the hopes of Nigerians with our failure to manage our success. The travail of the last two years, I am persuaded, is our divinely ordained chastisement for this pitfall.
7. I am convinced that our wilderness experience may well be a blessing in disguise, for two reasons. First, it afforded us the rare opportunity to look inwards and do some soul searching. In life, you do not always have the opportunity for a second chance. But to God be the glory, we have had the marvellous opportunity of understanding ourselves better, identifying our mistakes, suffering the painful consequences of defeat and learning the lesson of a lifetime. The wilderness experience has refined us, sharpened us and made us stronger. Like the saying goes, “sometimes you have to go through the wilderness before you get to the Promised Land.”
8. The second advantage of our wilderness experience is that Nigerians have had the opportunity of experiencing another party govern at the national level. They can now compare and contrast. As leaders we must read the times and take responsibility. We must condition our hearts for a new beginning. We must root out the past mistakes and model the right attitudes. It is time for self re-examination and a return to what is right. To build a solid team, we must be warm and inviting; the love for impunity and exclusion must cease. There must be integrity and discipline in our democratic system at all levels of party governance, and we must put to fore those things that add value to the growth of our party.
9. As we gather here today to chart a new course for our great party, we shall do well to stay true to the vision and mission of the founding fathers of our great party.
10. On this day, we need to reaffirm our commitment to the democratic ideals of internal party democracy, sovereignty of the people, majority rule and minority rights, the rule of law and good governance, respect for civil and political rights, and inclusive participation of all in party administration.
11. On this day, we must understand that our nation is at a cross road. Therefore, our emphasis must be about building a party focussed on fashioning a better society founded on the principles of fairness, equity and justice. We must commit to making the needs – and aspirations – of the Nigerian people the centrepiece of our party’s democratic agenda.
12. On this day, we must call for a paradigm shift in our party leadership style. Too often, we have demanded service – and worship – from the very people we have been called to serve. That must change. We need leaders, sincere leaders, strong leaders who understand that power is held in trust for the people and, therefore, must be administered for their good and advancement.
13. Finally, on this day, we call on all true PDP faithful to return home. It’s time to forgive. It’s time to heal the wounds of the past. It’s time to get over the hurts of the past. It’s time to embrace love and reconciliation. It’s time, brothers and sisters, to come back home!
14. My dear party leaders and delegates, as we move forth into the next few months firmly resolved that we need to bounce back to power in 2019, we must refuse to get distracted from our mission and priorities. We need to stay the course of our goals with planning, passion, pursuit, partnership and perseverance. We are who we think we are, so we must think the best for ourselves.
15. It is on this note that I welcome our party leaders, delegates and all observers to this Non-elective, but yet very important convention of our party. Obviously, we have set the tone and sent a clear message that our party, PDP is back, strengthened, reformed and refocused to win all elections in partnership with Nigerians.
Thank you distinguished party men and women, ladies and gentle men for your time and attention.
16. God bless us all.
17. God bless the PDP.
18. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Senator, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa
Governor of Delta State and
Chairman, Planning Committee
PDP Special Non-Elective National Convention