• Our mission is to pursue Buhari from Aso Rock, says Bafarawa

Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa

Former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, friday insisted that his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was not ruffled over the increasing number of presidential aspirants emerging daily from the party.

Jonathan, who spoke when a presidential aspirant under the platform of the party, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, visited him on Friday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital, told journalists that what was of importance was that the party should create a level playing field, where any aspirant who lost, did so fairly.

He made the assertion, even as Bafarawa said the mission of the alignments and consultations within the party was to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari, quits Aso Rock next year so that the country can make some progress once again.

Jonathan maintained that the development was healthy for the party and for democracy in general, noting that the rivalry would be too toxic if only two candidates were involved.

“The more people that are interested the better for the party. Just like you asked, if you have only two aspirants in a political party, the way we play politics in this country, the division between the two camps will be so bad.

“Not from the contenders themselves, but supporters of the candidates will be exuding all kinds of bitterness. At the end of the day, one must lose, and he will feel they don’t belong to the system.

“When there are many aspirants and the party does what is right, the key thing is that we have a level playing ground for all the aspirants and when the ground is level and the best person emerges, they will all work for the party.

“When they are just two, they start throwing stones, but when they are many, who do you throw the stone to. But as leaders, we keep talking. I believe we will talk to the aspirants so that at the end of the day, everybody is happy.

“But the key thing is that there is a level playing field during the primaries, not the number of aspirants. We must make sure the ground is level so that nobody will leave the party out of anger,” the former Nigerian leader said.

On Bafarawa’s visit, the former President noted that the former Sokoto State governor, remained a politician who was highly interested in democracy and development of the country, stressing that he showed the stuff he is made of even as Sokoto governor.

He added: “He came to greet me and also concerning his own political interest and development. He’s somebody I know very well. He had been involved in politics even before I got involved in politics. While I was deputy to Alamieyeseigha (Diepreye), he was already a governor in Sokoto State.

“When I was contesting, he joined PDP in 2014. He did not join PDP because he wanted to contest, but because he wanted to support me.

“He has a lot of experience. He wants the best for the country. He wants this country to grow and I always insist that as leaders we must always plan for our grandchildren. Societies that plan for their grandchildren grow. Societies that plan for themselves crash.

“When you are planning for your grandchildren, you take time to plan. He’s among those people we need to plan because he has done it in Sokoto State. He’s a nice man.”

For his part, Bafarawa, who took time to eulogise the former president for his democratic credentials, promised not to dump the PDP if he does not eventually get the party’s presidential ticket.

“I am a democrat. Politics is a game. Just like him (Jonathan) he has not been defeated, but because of the peace of the country, he accepted defeat and allowed peace to reign.

“I didn’t just join politics for the sake of personal interest or that if I lose, I will leave. I have been in politics in the last 40 years and I have been in the opposition. So, I am not there to make money or anything.

“I am a democrat, I am there to serve people. I will remain in PDP because APC is a limited liability company while PDP is a Plc. I will remain in PDP and our common objective is to see how to get Buhari out of power,” he said.

He maintained, that today, all serious-minded politicians in the country were determined to see that in 2019, President Buhari leaves office “so that we can move the country forward.”