Peoples Democratic Partyâ€™s recent public apology wasnâ€™t an happenstance but part of the partyâ€™s strategy for the renewal of its spirit, writes Onyebuchi Ezigbo
Many Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) stakeholders, who thronged the Congress Hall of the prestigious Transcorp Hilton could not but hold their breath. They could not hide their surprises and consternation when the National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, dropped the bombshell. Secondus told them that the new PDP leadership had decided to toe a path of honour and humility by accepting its shortcomings and making a commitment to chart a new course for the development and progress of the country.
â€œPDP made many mistakes and we accept that there may have been impunity and imposition in the past. This is human but the ability to admit making mistakes is one of the best ways to make amends and progress,â€ he told party members, adding: â€œLet me use this opportunity to apologise to Nigerians for our past mistakes. This is the best way forward and we want to set a precedent that if one makes mistakes, it is wise to apologise and move forward on a new note. We do not want to behave like the APC, who would rather tell lies.â€
Secondus did not stop at just apologising to the people; he made yet another daring move by unfolding an agenda to rescue the country from what he described as the current tormenting economic and social situation.
Under a new campaign slogan, â€˜Rescue Nigeria,â€™ the PDP said it would act as a rallying point of the effort to rescue the country from inept leadership.
Welcoming participants to the occasion, Secondus said the reason for the discourse was to undertake a review of the state of the nation, some kind of physical surgery. According to him, Nigeria may not be at war in the conventional sense of it or is just gaining independence but the economy of the country has become terrible in the three years of APC rule that warrants serious intention and resetting of agenda for nation-building.
He said the country has also become so divided than at any time in the nationâ€™s history, noting that recent events in the country have shown that propaganda which the APC came to power with is not enough to deliver the kind of governance needed to make progress in the lives of the people.
â€œThe hardship currently faced by Nigerians is unprecedented. Across the length and breadth of this nation, citizens are faced with abject poverty with no clear path of alleviation,â€ he said.
Going forward, he was of the view that â€œthe party does not and will not condone corruption in any manner. We wholesomely condemn it in its entiretyâ€.
The PDP chairman carpeted the APC, saying its administration of the country had failed on all scores it came into office with. He said the war against corruption was selective and was achieving nothing, contending that Nigeria is now more unsafe than ever with herdsmen and kidnappers rampaging the entire country.
â€œEvery day, our media is awash with the staggering number of wanton killings raising questions about the value of human life in Nigeria. It is an endless stream of bloodletting directly or indirectly fuelled by incompetent leadership,â€ he lamented, adding: â€œOnly recently, the federal government tried to arm twist state governors to take from the common purse, the sum of $1billion dollars about N365b for the tackling of Boko Haram they claimed they defeated two years ago.â€
Quite expectedly, PDPâ€™s move to woo the electorate again elicited instant responses from the ruling party and the APC-led administration with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji 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 in the 16 years it was in power.
Mohammed, who immediately reacted to the apology, also challenged the party to show the genuineness of its apology through a discernible change of attitude.
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. Therefore, 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€ he said in a statement.
The APC said whilst it acknowledged the apologies by the PDP for the damage the party brought on the countryâ€™s democratic fabric during its 16-year rule, it needed to confess to its sins and fully atone for them.
â€œDespite this belated grovelling apology, PDP will need to come clean, confess their sins and fully atone for them, before restitution is considered,â€ said Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC National Publicity Secretary.
But as reactions came in hard and fast to its show of contrition, the PDP also moved quickly to justify its apology to Nigerians, saying there was 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.
â€œIt is deeply saddening 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 bloodletting,â€ the PDP said in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan.
The party said its apology had to do more with the fact that it made certain mistakes that allowed an anti-people movement to take over governance in the country.
It said: 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. Our 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€
This exchange of jabs was believed to have led to the decision by the federal government to go public with names of alleged public treasury looters, mostly people who are still undergoing investigation and prosecution, thus attracting criticism to the government for raising issues that were basically subjudice.
Incidentally, only politicians from the opposing camp made the list sent out by the APC-led government. PDP could not resist the temptation to join the fray as it also went public with allegations of graft against top officials of the APC-led administration.
This was why Ologbondiyan said Mohammed misfired in his outburst when he demanded that the PDP should return alleged looted funds, adding 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€ the PDP said, asking Mohammed to direct his demand to the presidency and the APC.