Former President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed to Nigerians to collectively defend and stand firm for democracy.
Jonathan made the call on Thursday in Onitsha at the grand finale campaign of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Anambra State, Mr Oseloka Obaze, ahead of Saturday’s election.
The former president said democracy was not about conducting elections only but seeing that elections are free and fair.
“We must collectively defend democracy in the country because no matter what you are, until you are able to elect your leader peacefully, the international community will not take you as developed society.
“Where elections are manipulated, there is no election.
“We use this opportunity to mobilise all Nigerians, especially the people of the state to stand firm for democracy and to do everything to protect democracy,” Jonathan said. He commended the people of South-East geo-political zone for the support given to him while in office, saying “I got more support from the South-East than I got from the South-South where I come from.”
Jonathan, who noted that Anambra had remained a PDP state from the beginning of democracy in 1999 till date, said 80 per cent of the people were still member of the party.
“Besides the pioneer role played by Dr Alex Ekwueme and other founding fathers from the state, the other population is clearly PDP or friends of PDP.
“Even though, some have left for one reason or the other, their spirits are still with the party.”
He said a PDP government, headed by Obaze, will bring development to the state and ensure that businesses and enterprises flourish.
He stressed that the political history of the country was changing gradually and therefore, required that only best candidates are elected to represent the interest of the people at home and Abuja.
According to him, Nigerians no longer want the situation where the Igbos will complain about marginalisation.
“This will depend on the people we send there as governors and members of the National Assembly,” he added.
Jonathan described Obaze as the best candidate, who has all the connections in the world to develop the state, encourage the youth and create enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
He urged the party faithful and people to turn out en mass and vote the PDP and Obaze at the Saturday governorship election in the state.
Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State said even if Jonathan failed to construct any road while in office, his legacy on free and fair election will speak for him. Fayose, who is also the chairman of PDP Governors’ Forum, recalled that Jonathan’s administration was fair to all, especially the South-East which had fair share of political appointments.
“It is time to have a rethink. Anambra is a PDP state,” he said, urging massive vote for the party on Saturday.
Also speaking, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State reminded the people on the need to protect their votes and disallow rigging in any form by other political parties. According to him, with liberty comes sacrifice, adding, ” if you don’t defend your votes, have yourself to blame”.
In his speech, Obaze appealed to aggrieved members, who left the party to return and work for its victory.
While stating that good governance was all about service, he noted that he was in the contest to serve the people and make a difference.
He pledged to use the resources of the state to serve the people, noting that the focus of his administration, if elected, would be human capital development.
“We are going to vote 26 per cent of our budget to education. Only Sokoto and Kwara states have achieved that, Anambra state will be the third,” he assured.
Others, who spoke at the occasion, included former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi and the PDP deputy governorship candidate and daughter of Dr Alex Ekwueme, Mrs Chidi Onyemelukwe.
The occasion also attracted Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, some national executives of the party as well as National Assembly members, among others.