•Forgive, but allow them stay in purgatory — APC
•Bode George in U-turn, pledges loyalty to Secondus
•Jonathan alleges smear campaign against him
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, apologised for the mistakes made in the 16 years it held the reins of power at the federal level.
The apology was immediately welcomed by the All Progressives Congress, APC, which urged Nigerians to forgive the former ruling party but demanded restitution in the form of relegation to purgatory for the PDP.
The face-off came as former President Goodluck Jonathan, through whom the PDP lost power, alleged a concerted plot by some unnamed interests to smear him.
Jonathan, whose administration had been the focus of relentless reproach by senior officials of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, made the allegation on a Facebook posting on his wall.
Meanwhile, the scheme to rebuild the PDP gained traction yesterday after one of the party’s hitherto displeased founding fathers, Chief Bode George, pledged loyalty to the Uche Secondus-led leadership.
National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, admitted the party’s mistakes in power and asked for forgiveness from Nigerians at a public discourse on contemporary politics and governance in Nigeria, organized by the party in Abuja.
Speaking on the theme, “Nation Building: Resetting the agenda,” Secondus pledged the readiness of the PDP to learn from its mistakes, arguing that regardless of what the party failed to do, experience remains the best teacher.
PDP made many mistakes — Secondus
“I am the very first to admit that our party, the Peoples Democratic Party of Nigeria, made many mistakes. Consequently, we were roundly sanctioned by Nigerians occasioning our loss at the polls in 2015.
“Let me seize this opportunity to apologise to Nigerians unequivocally for the several shortcomings of our party in the near and far past. It was all part of an evolution process without which there can be no maturity.
“The PDP has embarked on a rescue mission, and together we will salvage this nation back from the grip of the incompetent All Progressives Congress, APC,” said Secondus.
His confession nonetheless, the APC yesterday asked Nigerians to demand restitution from the PDP in the form of relegating it to purgatory.
“Apology can only come with restitution; you cannot apologise without atoning for your sins,” APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, told Vanguard yesterday.
“Nigerians should accept their apology, but they should allow them to spend sufficient time in purgatory to ensure that they are sufficiently purged of the sins that they committed over those 16 years.
“Now that they have realised their sins, they have to spend sufficient time in purgatory; so, this one about coming back to power in 2019 does not show that they are sufficiently remorseful; they have to spend sufficient time in purgatory before Nigerians can consider whether to forgive them because they put us in the sorry state we are in today,” he said.
Reflecting on the purported divisions in the country since the assumption of office of President Buhari, Secondus said: “Not even during the fratricidal civil war has this country been so divided along ethnic and religious fault lines.
“When a country is in such precarious situation, nation building becomes absolutely inevitable.
“Three years down the line and about 12 months to the next general elections, what is the state of our country? All gains have been clearly eroded through an acute lack of understanding of the intricacies of governing a complex state as Nigeria.
“It has quickly become apparent that propaganda and unrealistic promises that helped the current ruling party to power could not and cannot deliver the much-needed dividends of democracy. You need competence and capability to do that!
“The three major planks that our opposition sold itself to Nigerians are combating corruption, tackling insecurity, especially the Boko Haram terrorist sect, and revamping of the nation’s economy. Today, the scorecard of the ruling party on all scores is embarrassingly abysmal.
On APC scorecard
“On corruption, I need not go into details except draw your attention to the latest Transparency International Report that shows that the corruption index under the watch of the so-called anti-corruption government has worsened.
“Only recently, the federal government tried to arm-twist state governors to take from the common purse, the sum of $1billion (N365bn) for the tackling of Boko Haram they claimed they defeated two years ago. 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 one another as to who did and didn’t do what.
“President Buhari’s response to the distraught parents of the abducted girls and their colleagues when he ostensibly went on a very belated compassionate visit, was to claim that his government’s response was swifter than that of the previous one. How thoroughly embarrassing for this government?” he added.
The PDP boss also mocked President Buhari’ monetary policy saying, “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 Nigerian citizens.”
Bode George pledges loyalty to NWC
Perhaps, the biggest takeaway for Secondus was the presence of Bode George at the Transcorp Hilton venue of the public discourse.
George, who angrily pulled out of the PDP chairmanship race 24 hours to the party’s convention in December 2017, had not openly identified with the new leadership of the party until yesterday.
However, he laid aside his grievances in the interest of the party and asked all those who left for one reason or the other to return to the PDP.
“What I heard totally rekindles my absolute loyalty. It was like we took an overdose of sleeping tablet. The world is watching us.
“You have talked the talk, let the people go and walk the talk. I pray God to give you the wisdom to lead the party because we don’t have a second chance,“ George stated.
Present at the well-attended event were two former Vice Presidents, Atiku Abubakar and Namadi Sambo, ex-Jigawa State governor and 2019 Presidential hopeful, Alhaji Sule Lamido, three former governors, Ibrahim Shema (Katsina) Peter Obi (Anambra) and Babangida Aliyu (Niger), amongst others.
There’s smear campaign against me — Jonathan
Meanwhile, former President Jonathan, who is in Sierra Leone to monitor the presidential election run-off, said he had been the object of unceasing reproach by Buhari administration’s officials, including the President and his deputy.
President Buhari had, following the negotiated release of the school girls captured from Dapchi, Yobe State, said his administration did better than Jonathan’s which he claimed dilly-dallied after the kidnap of more than 200 girls from a girl’s secondary school in Chibok, Borno State.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had on his part, accused Jonathan of sharing N150 billion in the two weeks preceding the 2015 general elections.
That allegation was denied by Jonathan’s former media aide, Reno Omokri.
However, alleging a plan to raise the tempo of allegations against him towards bringing him to disrepute, President Jonathan on Sunday night said he had been informed that some faceless persons had been recruited for the conspiracy.
“It has been brought to my attention that while I am away promoting democracy in Sierra Leone, a campaign will be unleashed against me to falsely impugn my name using both faceless and identified persons,” he wrote on his Facebook wall.
“When I was in power, I said my ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. Even out of power, I continue to hold that belief.
“What I will say, however, is that no matter how far and fast falsehood has travelled, it must eventually be overtaken by the truth.”