Even though the ruling All Progressives Congress has made strenuous efforts to discredit the Peoples Democratic Party for apologising to Nigerians, the National Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus did the right thing, writes Onyebuchi Ezigbo

Members of the People Democratic Party who were at the Congress Hall of the prestigious TransCorp Hilton, Abuja could not hide their surprises when the National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus during a meeting of stakeholders dropped the bombshell.

He said that the new PDP leadership had decided to take a path of honour and humility by accepting its shortcomings and making a commitment to chat a new course for the development and progress of the country.
“PDP 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.

“Let me use this opportunity to apologize to Nigerians for our past mistakes. This is the best way forward and we want to set a precedence that if one makes mistakes it is wise to apologize and to move forward on a new note. We do not want to behave like the APC who would rather tell lies.
“On behalf of members of my NWC I apologize to Nigerians and to ask for their support in seeking to rebuild the country, this is a clear departure from what the APC is known for.”

Secondus did not stop at just apologizing to the people, he made yet another daring move by pushing agenda to rescue the country from what he described as the tormenting economic and social situation.

Under a new campaign slogan, ‘Rescue Nigeria’, the PDP said that it would act as a rallying point of the effort to rescue the country from inept leadership.
Secondus said that the reason for the discourse was to undertake a review of the state of the nation, kind of a physical surgery.

According to him, Nigeria may not be at war in the conventional sense, the economy has become terrible in the three years of APC rule that warrants serious intention and resetting of agenda for nation building. He said that the country had also become so divided than at any time in the nation’s history. He said that recent events in the country had shown that propaganda which the APC came to power with was not enough to deliver the kind of governance needed to make progress in the lives of the people.

“The 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”, he said.
Going forward, Secondus said: ” the party does not and will not condone corruption in any manner. We condemn it in its entirety”.

According to the PDP boss, it is on record that it is only PDP that has willingly given up for prosecution, its members accused of corruption. He said PDP established the EFCC and ICPC, all organs of anti-corruption established to further the cause of fighting corruption in the county but regretted that present administration of the APC is being selective in its approach to the issue.

On security, the PDP chairman maintained that Boko Haram has remained alive despite several claims by APC of having decimated it. Instead, it said insecurity is even spreading under a new name and nomenclature called herdsmen.

Secondus noted that herdsmen have been tormenting, maiming and killing hundreds of Nigerian children, women and men across the country with the government of the day offering feeble responses.
He said the climax of the APC government politicking with security was the recent abduction of over 100 school girls from their college premises in Dapchi Girls Science and Technical College in Yobe State with government, military and police authorities contradicting each other as to who did and didn’t do what.

“Everyday 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. Only recently the federal government tried to arm twist state governors to take from the common purse, the sum of $1billion about N365b for the tackling of Boko Haram they claimed they defeated two years ago.”

Secondus also said that the story of state of the economy was equally unpalatable, adding that the federal government has through incoherent and inconsistent policies and actions, dragged Nigeria into an unnecessary recession.

“The ruling party has shown that it is incapable of delivering good governance to the people. Whereas the PDP administration borrowed only N6 trillion in all its 16 years with a lot of projects to show for it, APC has borrowed N11 trillion in just three years with nothing to show for it.
“N6 trillion borrowed in 16 years and N11 trillion in just three years, which one is more corrupt?”, Secondus asked.

“Our currency has been recklessly devalued from N199 in 2015 to nearly N500 a dollar before it came down to about N365 only due to an increase in oil prices and not any significant thing done by this government. Fuel prices rose from N97 to N145 yet the nation experiences unabated scarcity with its attendant long queues and suffering by the Nigerian citizens,”

As expected, PDP’s move to woo the electorate has elicited responses from the ruling party and the APC-led administration 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 also challenged the party to show the genuineness of its apology through a discernible change of attitude.

In a statement, the minister said: “The 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.”

Mohammed also reminded the PDP of the famous quote: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging,” saying it applies to the PDP at this time. 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 country’s democratic fabric during its 16-year rule, it needed to confess to its sins and fully atone for them.

Also in a statement, the APC spokesman, Mr. Bolaji Abdulahi, said Nigerians were still suffering from the misrule the PDP had plunged the nation into and would not forget in a hurry.
“However, despite this belated grovelling apology, PDP will need to come clean, confess their sins and fully atone for them, before restitution is considered. As 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 PDP’s misrule. Therefore, even if Nigerians are gracious enough to forgive, they will not forget in a hurry.”

Following the criticisms, the PDP tried to justify its apology to Nigerians saying there is 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, “It 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 bloodletting”.

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.

“It 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.

“Our 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.

“It 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”.

Ologbodiyan also alleged that those who stole hundreds of billions of naira were being protected by the Buhari administration.

He said: “The 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.”

As the 2019 elections draw near, expect the tit-for-tat fight between the PDP and the APC to continue.

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As the 2019 elections draw near, expect the tit-for-tat fight between the PDP and the APC to continue.