The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday traded accusations against each other over the apology tendered by the opposition party, with each party accusing the other of looting public funds.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the PDP had two days ago admitted that its 16 years in power was characterised by misrule and impunity and begged Nigerians for forgiveness.
But the federal government, in its reaction yesterday, told the PDP that its apology to Nigerians was not sufficient, but that it should go the whole hog by returning funds looted on its watch during its 16 years in office.
However, the PDP has chided the federal government over its statement, accusing it of using looted funds to put President Muhammadu Buhari in power during the 2015 elections and turning a blind eye to its officials who are indicted of corruption.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had challenged the PDP 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. Anything short of that is mere deceit.
‘’Even with the paucity of funds, this administration has spent an unprecedented amount of money on infrastructural development and Social Investment Programme, among others.
‘’Returning looted funds will provide more money for these programmes and make life more meaningful for Nigerians. There is no better apology than that,’’ it said.
Alhaji 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 told the PDP to stop sabotaging the work of the current administration in its effort to clean the filth it left behind, through reckless statements and unfounded allegations.
He advised the opposition party to “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.”
The PDP has, however, reacted to the statements credited to the ruling APC-led federal government, telling it to end its false sanctimony and immediately return all stolen funds used to finance President Buhari’s election in 2015 to the Federation Account.
The PDP told the APC-led federal government that it could not continue to play the saint when state governors, who stole hundreds of billions of naira meant for the development of their states to fund President Buhari in 2015, are still enjoying cover as members of the Buhari kitchen cabinet, despite outrage from Nigerians.
PDP national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, asserted that there was no evidence that the PDP, as a party, looted public funds, just as he alleged that the APC and President Buhari campaigned for the 2015 presidential election with looted billions of naira meant for the provision of essential amenities for ordinary Nigerians.
According to the party, the minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, misfired in his outburst that the PDP should return alleged looted funds when the only party known to have used looted funds was the APC.
The PDP statement reads in part: “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 stated 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.
“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 PDP added that even international bodies, including the Transparency International (TI), had rated the APC low on integrity, with the latest report showing that corruption and sleaze had escalated on the watch of the APC.
“This is the same government where ministers and officials indicted of 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.”
The PDP urged the minister of information to direct his demand for return of looted funds 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.”