By Chukwudi Abiandu
Like the case of the Biblical prodigal son, who went on a frolic of his own and squandered the fortune collected from his father, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday re-examined itself, repented of its wayward ways and asked Nigerians for forgiveness for its recklessness in its rulership for 16 years that it was in power, thereby frittering away the goodwill of the people.
In a remorse laden tone at the party’s one day Public Discourse on Contemporary Politics and Governance in Nigeria tagged: “Nation Building and Resetting the Agenda”, the National Chairman of the Party, Prince Uche Secondus on Monday, 26/3/2018 in Abuja, apologised to Nigerians and asking for forgiveness for “taking Nigerians for granted and ruling with impunity” in its years in power.
Dressed not in the usual flowing agbada gown, but in jeans trousers atop a jean shirt, and a black face cap to match, as if underscoring to the PDP hierarchy that it would not be business as usual, he promised that the party would make genuine change if given the chance to rule again in 2019.
He said: “In the past, there were impunity and imposition of candidates. These were wrong things that we did. We took voters and Nigerians for granted.
“We are not a spirit and this is why we have to be humble to apologise for imposition, impunity and other wrongdoings. But while we were in government, there was no nepotism, but today nepotism has taken over the polity.
“We have to stand before the people and apologise. We made mistakes. Unlike the All Progressives Congress that will lie and use another lie to cover it, we will apologise for our past mistakes. We are human beings that are bound to make mistakes. How long are we going to lie to our children?
“Since it is said that charity begins at home, 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. We are indeed very sorry.
“Under our watch, there will be no imposition of candidates and no impunity. My colleagues and I at the National Working Committee have vowed to uphold the rule of law as enshrined in our party’s constitution.
“Power has been devolved to the zonal, state and ward levels. The PDP National Headquarters at Wadata House (party headquarters) will only coordinate affairs. There are no votes to be solicited or won at Wadata House. We are committed to the rule of law and assure you that not only will your votes count in our primaries across the land, your voice will also be heard.”
However, Secondus lamented that Nigeria’s “currency has been recklessly devalued from N199 in 2015 to nearly N500 a US 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 price was increased from N97 to N145, yet the nation experiences unabated scarcity with its attendant long queues at the filling stations and suffering by the Nigerian citizens.
“From friends and members of this government, we learnt that while in power for 16 years, the PDP government was able to borrow N6tn and had some projects inaugurated for it, in just less than three years; the APC regime has borrowed N11tn and has not inaugurated a single project,” he said.
The PDP national Chairman came hard on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for failing abysmally in the three major planks that it sold itself to Nigerians namely: combating corruption, tackling insecurity and revamping the nation’s economy.
“Our economy has been under immense pressure especially in the last 34 months of governance by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
“We will lead the charge by using our elected representatives and organs to boldly address critical national issues like restructuring, devolution of power, ‘not to young to run’ gender equality, economic advancement, corruption, insecurity, unity, and good governance to mention but a few.
“We are evolving from who we were to who we ought to be. A principled party of avowed democrats who are committed to building a virile strong nation whether we are in government or opposition. As a party, we have been through various challenges, ups and downs, good and bad, failure and success, promotion and demotion and yet we are still standing. We are a party that despite our differences possess a strong unity of purpose. We are a party that has lost and won; celebrated and mourned. We spot talent and nurture them and our track record speaks eloquently for us. Our appeal is universal regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, creed or religion. We are a truly democratic party that is not ruled by ‘cabals’ or even a ‘lion’.
“It based on the overwhelming cries that we have actively and purposely activated an aggressive and urgent process of resetting the agenda for nation building in a multi-pronged initiative tagged ‘Rescue Nigeria’ which I present to you today. It’s a collective effort,” he said.
Among party chieftains at the event include: former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar; immediate past National Chairman of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi; former Senate President Adolphus Wabara, former Deputy senate president, Senator Ibrahim Mantu; national chairmanship aspirant in the last national elective convention of the party, Bode George as well as former governors Peter Obi of Anambra state,and Dr. Babangida Aliyu of Niger State among others.