The Federal Government has told the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the apology for its past mistakes could only be complete when the funds allegedly looted from the public treasury under its watch during its 16 years in power were returned.
The governing All Progressives Congress (APC) also said even though the apology was belated, PDP should come out clean, confess its sins and fully atone for them before restitution could be considered.
But the PDP has fired back. It advised the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Federal Government to stop being sanctimonious about corruption as the election campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 was allegedly financed with stolen funds.
The Federal Government and the APC spoke against the background of public apology offered on Monday by the PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at a public dialogue in Abuja.
“I hereby, as the National Chairman, do admit that the PDP made a lot of mistakes; we are humans, not spirits and the ability to admit is key in moving forward.
“We apologise to Nigerians that we have made mistakes, we have learnt our lessons and we are ready to begin on a new slate; experience is the best teacher, no other party has it,” Secondus said.
But, in a statement yesterday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the government challenged the party to show the genuineness of its apology through a discernible change of attitude.
“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,” he said.
The minister said with the paucity of funds, the administration had spent an unprecedented amount of money on infrastructural development and Social Investment Programme, among others.
He added that returning looted funds would provide more money for the programmes and make life more meaningful for Nigerians.
Mohammed also reminded the PDP of the quote: “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging,” saying it applies to the PDP at this time.
The minister called on the PDP to stop sabotaging the work of the APC-led Federal Government, which is packing the mess the PDP left behind.
“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.
APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, also said that the nation accepted the apologies, but added that “even if Nigerians are gracious enough to forgive, they will not forget in a hurry.”
He stated that while the APC joins PDP in praying to God to forgive them, “Nigerians are human who are still suffering from the years of PDP’s misrule.”
Meanwhile, the party said the APC and the Federal Government cannot continue to play the saints when state governors, who allegedly diverted hundreds of billions of naira meant for the development of their states to fund President Buhari’s election in 2015, were still enjoying cover as members of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet, despite outrage from Nigerians.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday, said there was no evidence that the PDP, as a party, looted any public fund while in office.
The party recalled that prior to the 2015 election, President Buhari had informed Nigerians that he was insolvent, but expressed surprise that Buhari enjoyed one of the most expensive presidential campaigns in the history of the country.
“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 funds and have continued to reek with filth and sleaze.
“Indeed, 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,” the party added.
PDP observed that under the APC, the Transparency International (TI) rated Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
“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 maintains 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,” PDP stated.
The opposition party explained that the apology tendered by Secondus was a pathway to national healing, renewal of hope and remobilization of the citizenry for the task of rescuing the nation from the painful misrule of the APC.
Ologbondiyan noted that as a responsible party, the opposition party was deeply saddened that Nigerians were suffering because the nation allowed the APC to scheme itself into governance, devastate the country, wreck the economy and plunge the citizens into hunger, starvation and daily bloodletting.
He added that while certain mistakes were made in its internal administration prior to the 2015 general elections, 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 further 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,” the PDP stated.
The party regretted that under the APC, the situation has become so pathetic that the world was contemplating on how to help Nigeria.