As the 2019 general election draws nearer, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has admitted that its 16 years in power was characterised by misrule and impunity.
LEADERSHIP reports that the former ruling party had always denied that it misled the country while it was in office, always claiming that it had done well with the mandate it held from 1999 to 2015.
The present administration has been accusing the PDP of running a corrupt administration, looting the country and ruining the economy before it was voted out of office three years ago.
But the party has now admitted that it made mistakes while it held sway and consequently apologised to Nigerians for failing them.
PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who begged Nigerians on behalf of the party at a party gathering in Abuja, said: “We are sorry. We have made several mistakes.”
Speaking at the meeting tagged ‘a Public Discourse on Contemporary Politics and Governance in Nigeria’, Secondus explained the party, in the past, engaged in impunity and imposition of candidates among other faults.
“In the past, there were impunity and imposition. We are not spirits; we have to be humble to apologise for imposition, impunity and other wrongdoings.
“We have to stand before the people and apologise. We made mistakes. Unlike All Progressives Congress (APC) that will lie and use another lie to cover it, we will apologise for our past mistakes. We are humans 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,” he said.
According to him, at 20, the PDP is more mature to deliver on the needs of Nigerians, adding that the new agenda was to move the party from what it used to be to what it ought to be.
He, however, criticised the current administration for perceived bias in the polity, saying, “while (PDP was) in government, there was no nepotism, but today nepotism has been taken to the highest level by this government of APC.”
The party national chairman, however, gave the assurance that on his watch, the party will abandon it former evil ways, like the imposing candidates on the members and the electorate.
He stated that the party’s primaries, including the presidential, would not be influenced by any one individual or clique.
“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 constitution.
“Power has been devolved to the zonal, state and ward levels. PDP national headquarters at Wadata House, Abuja, will only co-ordinate affairs. There are no votes to be solicited or won at Wadata House. We are committed to the rule of law and I assure you that not only will your votes count in our primaries across the land, I assure you that your voices will be heard,” he told party members.
Secondus further asserted that the electoral umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), would not be able to rig elections, just as he criticised the APC administration for the manner it was running the country, especially the state of the economy.
He said, “Our currency has been recklessly devalued from N199/$1 in 2015 to nearly N500/$1 before it came down to about N365/$1 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.”
The national chairman further lamented the borrowing spree of the APC administration.
“From friends and members of this government, we learnt that while in 16 years PDP government was able to borrow N6 trillion and had some projects commissioned for it, in just less than three years, the APC regime has borrowed N11 trillion and has not commissioned a single project.”
He said that the party was aware of the cries of the people of Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba, Kogi, Enugu, Lagos and Edo, and was morally bound to react favourably to the yearnings of the people.
Secondus remarked that the repositioned PDP had a new mechanism that would interact with people at the grassroots and hold leaders accountable.
In his contribution, a chieftain of the party, Chief George Bode, said that the position of the party leadership had rekindled his loyalty.
Bode called on members of PDP who left the party as a result of its past mistakes to return home from “wilderness,’’ adding that ‘to err is human, to forgive divine’.
One of the panellists at the event, Ms Toyosi Ogunshiji, commended the party for toeing the line of honour and said thst Nigeria must move from praying to taking more serious actions for the progress of the country.
Ogunshiji said that the country needed statesmen “who think about the people and not politicians who think about the next elections’’.
According to her, Nigerians only voted against President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, not necessarily for President Muhammadu Buhari.
She said that the electorate who would be seen in the 2019 general election would be different from those of the past, saying the level of political awareness of the electorate would shock politicians in 2019.
According to her, it is the quality of candidates put forward by political parties that will determine the outcome of the polls.
The party leadership was, however, tasked to be innovative ahead of 2019.
This charge was given by former governors of Katsina and Anambra states, Ibrahim Shema and Peter Obi respectively. They told the leaders of the party to do something different from what the APC is doing, adding that Nigerians want to know what the party is bringing on board in 2019.
Obi specifically urged the PDP to be ready to tell Nigerians the facts about the dwindling economy and the lies being told by the APC about the country’s exit from recession.
One of the high points of the event was the presence of a hitherto aggrieved PDP chairmanship aspirant at the last party national convention, Chief Bode George, who, in his remarks, congratulated members of the National Working Committee for the new agenda and pledged his loyalty to the party.
George had angrily pulled out of the chairmanship race 24 hours to the party’s convention in December 2017 and had not openly identified with the new leadership of the party until yesterday.
“What I heard today rekindles my absolute loyalty. It was as if we took an overdose 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,” he said.
He added that he had cast aside his grievances in the interest of the party and called upon all those who left the PDP for one reason or the other to return to the fold.
In his response to George, Secondus disclosed that in the next few days the PDP would come out with its economic blueprint, even as he lamented that what the party built in the past 16 years had collapsed under this present administration.
Present at the event were two former vice presidents, Atiku Abubakar and Namadi Sambo; ex-Jigawa State governor and 2019 presidential hopeful, Sule Lamido; three former governors, Ibrahim Shema (Katsina), Peter Obi (Anambra) and Babangida Aliyu (Niger), amongst others.