By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Charles Kumolu, Gbenga Oke, Emmanuel Elebeke & Dirisu Yakubu
THE Federal Government taunted the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, asking it to complete its apology to Nigerians by returning all the funds looted from the public treasury during its 16 years in power.
The PDP, on Monday, reflected on its 16 years stewardship and admitted it made mistakes and asked Nigerians to forgive its wrongdoings. National chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke at a public discourse, said the party was sorry for its mistakes.
In a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the All Progressives Congress, APC-led Federal Government also challenged the party to show the genuineness of its apology through a discernible change of attitude.
”PDP, 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. Put Nigeria’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,” he said.
He continued: ”The PDP presided over an 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 as anything short of that is mere deceit.”
However, the PDP countered and asked the APC and the federal government to end their sanctimonious stance and immediately return to the Federation |Account, all stolen funds it claimed were used to finance President Muhammadu Buhari’s election in 2015.
The party said the APC and the federal government cannot continue to play saints when state governors, who stole hundreds of billions of naira meant for the development of their states to fund Buhari’s election in 2015, are still enjoying cover as members of the Buhari kitchen cabinet, despite outrage from their people.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday said there is no evidence that the PDP looted any public fund, noting that the APC and Buhari campaigned for the 2015 presidential election with looted billions of naira meant for the provision of essential amenities for ordinary Nigerians.
The party also chided the Information and Culture Minister for asking the PDP to return looted fund, saying, on the contrary, the APC should have a reckoning with its conscience.
“If there is any party that should refund looted funds, it is the APC, which directly used stolen money to scheme in the election of President Buhari in 2015, while known culpable persons now sit comfortably around the Presidential table, still superintending over the looting of our common patrimony.
“It is, to say the least, despicable that the APC and its federal government, in their arrogance, would always try to play the saint when they were elected with stolen fund and have continued to reek with filth and sleaze.
“Nigerians are aware that prior to the 2015 election, President Buhari had informed (the people) 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.
“This is the APC, whose government, has been rated by international bodies including the Transparency International (TI) which latest report, shows that corruption and sleaze had escalated under its watch. This is the same government where ministers and officials indicted for corruption and looting of public funds, particularly in the oil and gas sector, which is directly under the purview of Mr. President, are shielded and condoned.
“While the repositioned PDP maintain its unpretentious stance towards Nigerians, we charge the Minister of Information to direct his demand to the Presidency and the APC as Nigerians are expecting them to refund the stolen funds they used to scheme themselves into office in 2015,” the statement read in part.
Indeed, the said it apologized to Nigerians because of 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 her by the ruling APC.
The PDP said that 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 All Progressives Congress, 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.”
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said while certain mistakes were made 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.
Said PDP: “It is imperative to state that our apology has to do more 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 on 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 off, 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 re-branded PDP, particularly, as our party is the only platform that is committed to the national agenda of peace, unity, justice and prosperous nation.”
The Federal Government and PDP spoke as mixed reactions trailed the opposition party’s apology.
It will be suicidal for Nigerians to believe PDP – Mohammed
Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said it will be suicidal for Nigerians to believe or give the PDP audience.
“Frankly speaking, this statement coming from the PDP simply made us believe leaders of the party realised they are capable of making mistake and calling on Nigerians to forgive them. I believe their statement is hypocritical because they are not being sincere.
“Nigerians should not listen to them because we all knew how people like Obasanjo imposed a sick Yar’Adua on this country, even after his death, we all remember how he brought Jonathan into government and we all knew how the government ended in a monumental tragedy and till date, Nigeria is yet to come out fully from those experiences. So, nobody should give PDP any audience because giving them audience will be another disaster and suicidal.”
It’s demonstration of humility, sincerity – Osuntokun
However, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, a former political adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo said: “I don’t see anything wrong with the admission of shortcomings and inadequacies. That is a demonstration of humility and sincerity. Rectitude is a required good beginning for the potential to do well in a position for which you are representing yourself. The other need for an apology is that whoever is responsible, by default for the emergence of the disastrous APC government has got a lot of cause to apologise to Nigerians.”
PDP should return looted funds instead of apologizing – Etiebet
On his part, former Minister of Petroleum, Chief Don Etiebet, asked the PDP to bring back the money its members stole instead of apologising to Nigerians.
“Who wouldn’t feel very ashamed especially with the revelations of barefaced looting that occurred during their administration. They will apologise just to save their face their faces. Everywhere you looked, their hand of looting is there. At every opportunity, they were looting, making deals and taking out money. Everybody is overwhelmed. They should thank President Buhari for being very soft on them because in other climes they would be struggling to stay out of jail than talking politics.”
How PDP can make its apology genuine – Ambakaderimo
Also, Comrade Joseph Ambakaderimo, the Convener, South-South Reawakening Group, SSRG, said: ”It is one thing to tender an apology and it is also another to know if the apology genuinely comes from the heart. Yes, apologies are good but in this case, the man tendering the apology on behalf of his party is himself a product of impunity and what makes it looks trivial to me is he calls out the ruling party in reference or comparison. What has the APC got to do with the PDP apology? Again, is the PDP now owing up to raping and decapitating our common patrimony for the past 16 years? The genuine apology will be to return the loot to the Nigerian people only then Nigerians will take them seriously. For now, it is a slap in the face of all of us.”
PDP made the apology to move forward—Babatope
A member of PDP Board of Trustees, BoT, Chief Ebenezer Babatope justified the apology, saying: “That was a good statement by the National Chairman of our party. He knew that mistakes had been made and for the party to move forward we need to apologise. That is a sign that we are serious about winning the next election because Nigeria cannot continue under a party like the APC that has no vision. The party is just pushing Nigerians around. The next thing is for us to make Nigerians know that we offer a better alternative.”