â€¢ Opposition party justifies apology
Tobi Soniyi in Lagos and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The federal government and the All Progressives Congress (APC), Tuesday took separate digs at the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, admonishing the PDP to go the whole hog with its apology to Nigerians by returning all the funds looted from the public treasury under its watch during its 16 years in power.
Mohammed, who was reacting to the apology the main opposition party tendered to Nigerians on Monday for its past mistakes while in government, also challenged the party to show the genuineness of its apology through a discernible change of attitude.
In a statement, the minister said: â€œThe PDP presided over the unprecedented looting of the public treasury, perhaps the worst of its kind in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world.
â€œTherefore, the best evidence of penitence for such a party is not just to own up and apologise, but to also return the looted funds. Anything short of that is mere deceit.
â€œEven with the paucity of funds, this administration has spent an unprecedented amount of money on infrastructure development and the social investment programme, among others.
â€œReturning looted funds will provide more money for these programmes and make life more meaningful for Nigerians. There is no better apology than that.â€
Mohammed also reminded the PDP of the famous quote: â€œIf you find yourself in a hole, stop digging,â€ saying it applies to the PDP at this time.
â€œPDP, press the reset button. Stop sabotaging the work of this administration, which is packing the mess you left behind, through your reckless statements and unfounded allegations. Play responsible opposition politics.
â€œPut Nigeriaâ€™s interest over and above partisan interest. Temper your desperation to return to power. Spend quality time in the purgatory and you will be forgiven,â€ he said.
Toeing the same line, the ruling APC, of which Mohammed is a member, said while it acknowledges the apologies by the PDP for the damage the party wrought on the countryâ€™s democratic fabric during its 16-year rule, it needed to confess to its sins and fully atone for them.
In a statement Tuesday by APC spokesman, Mr. Bolaji Abdulahi, the ruling party said Nigerians were still suffering from the misrule the PDP had plunged the nation into and may not forget in a hurry.
â€œHowever, despite this belated grovelling apology, PDP will need to come clean, confess their sins and fully atone for them, before restitution is considered.
â€œAs they say, to err is human but forgiveness is divine. We join the PDP in praying to God to forgive them, but Nigerians are humans who are still suffering from the years of PDPâ€™s misrule.
â€œTherefore, even if Nigerians are gracious enough to forgive, they will not forget in a hurry,â€ APC said.
But as reactions came in hard and fast to its show of contrition, the PDP Tuesday justified its apology to Nigerians on the need to chart a pathway to national healing, renewal of hope and re-mobilisation of the citizenry for the task of rescuing the nation from the pains inflicted on them by the APC.
It, however, reminded the information minister that looted funds were used for the campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, insisting that there was no evidence of alleged looting by the PDP.
The PDP said as a responsible party with the interest of Nigerians at heart, â€œIt is deeply saddened that our people are suffering because the nation allowed the APC, a movement that has neither structure nor plan, to scheme itself into governance, devastate the country, wreck our once robust economy and plunge our citizens into a situation of hunger, starvation and daily bloodlettingâ€.
A statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said while the PDP had made certain mistakes in its internal administration prior to the 2015 general election, its new leadership has already smoothened the rough edges to ensure strict adherence to internal democracy and good governance in all processes.
â€œIt is imperative to state that our apology has more to do with the fact that we made certain mistakes that allowed an anti-people movement to take over governance in our country.
â€œOur situation under the APC has become so pathetic that the world is now contemplating how to help us. Under the APC misrule, the average lifespan of Nigerians has become abysmally low, purchasing power is eroded, the middle class has been wiped out, security is almost non-existent, all the economic gains of the PDP years have been destroyed, and our nation is now placed on auto-pilot.
â€œIt is painful to note that under the nightmarish rule of APC, Nigerians have become so frustrated that they now consider suicide missions and slavery as options.
â€œOur apology is to ask Nigerians, once again, to put their trust in the rebranded PDP, particularly as our party is the only platform that is committed to the national agenda of peace, unity, justice and prosperous nation,â€ he said.
Ologbodiyan also addressed Mohammed statement, saying those who â€œstole hundreds of billions of nairaâ€ are being protected by the Buhari administration.
â€œThe APC and its federal government cannot continue to play the saints when state governors who stole hundreds of billions of naira meant for the development of their states to fund President Buhari in 2015, are still enjoying cover as members of the Buhari kitchen cabinet, despite outrage from Nigerians.
â€œThere is no evidence that the PDP, as a party, looted any public funds. The APC and President Buhari campaigned for the 2015 presidential election with looted billions of naira meant for the provision of essential amenities for ordinary Nigerians.
â€œThe Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, misfired in his outburst that the PDP should return alleged looted funds when the only party known to have used looted funds has always been the APC.
â€œNigerians are aware that prior to the 2015 election, President Buhari had informed that he was insolvent. He, however, took Nigerians by surprise, as he enjoyed one of the most expensive presidential campaigns in the history of our nation, while turning a blind eye to reports of massive looting of funds from APC-controlled states.
â€œEven presently, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communications, has been accused of owing his aides N13 million and that he has no fewer than 12 houses across the nation; bought a N93 million printing press; and bought 25 luxury cars for his personal use, among others.
â€œYet, nothing has been heard from either the dysfunctional APC or its incompetent federal government,â€ it said.
Ologbondiyan asked Mohammed to direct his demand to the presidency and the APC.