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Apology Not Enough

The apology by Nigeria’s former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is a classical case of how not to apologise.

The party’s national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, who was a powerful member of the party’s leadership when the misdeeds were committed, said having realised that the party failed Nigerians and thus paid for the sins by the poor performance at the polls in 2015, needed to seek forgiveness as another election is due in less than a year.

The glib apology, while an improvement on the serial denials that followed the electoral failure of the party, is unacceptable as most Nigerians have since declared. If the PDP wants to be taken seriously, it has to come clean. What exactly is the party apologising for? The impunity with which national affairs was run, the mindless looting of the treasury by officials of the party and government for which many of them have confessed in court, the attendant rot in the schools, hospitals and other critical infrastructure, or the endangering of national security?

When the African National Congress (ANC) took over the reins of government in South Africa, there was a need to draw the curtains on the sordid apartheid past, hence the setting up of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). All those who were participants in the murder, oppression and repression that defined the essence of apartheid were told to come forward, confess their sins, tell the whole truth, seek and obtain forgiveness. That was how the past was buried to give way to a glorious dawn. Penitent officials came up with details of how they contributed to subverting the state. This is what is expected of those who ran the ship of Nigeria aground in the 16-year (1999 to 2015) that PDP was in power.

Under the 1999 Constitution, political parties play a major role not only in recruiting leaders, but in consequently running the government. Therefore, for dashing the hopes of Nigerians and frittering away scarce resources, the PDP must demonstrate genuine penitence. This cannot be said to be the situation when the organising secretary of the party when impunity reigned, and internal democracy was utterly lacking, has now been rewarded with the higher office of the national chairman. The PDP continues to hail those identified as enemies of state under the Jonathan administration, thus suggesting that if it were to be forgiven by Nigerians, such elements would be returned to office.

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We know it is possible to shed tears apparently, while actually laughing at victims of one’s action or inaction. Such a tear is described as crocodile tears. If the PDP were to get away with the atrocities it committed against the Nigerian state and people, other political parties would have learnt no lessons. It would be an invitation to future security chiefs to embezzle money meant for the procurement of weapons and the welfare of officers and men deployed on the battlefield. It would mean rewarding those who ran the petroleum industry, rendering no account, but dispensing the billions of dollars raked in from the sale of crude oil. It would mean forgiving those who suborned electoral officials, armed political thugs and subverted the institutions that should serve as pillars of democracy.

We cannot forget in a hurry that a meager N15 billion was expended on roads rehabilitation and reconstruction in 2014, while crude oil consistently sold above $100 per barrel. What happened to the revenue? How did states end up holding the short end of the stick, unable to perform the very basic function of paying workers?

Nigerians deserve a virile opposition, but the PDP does not qualify to present itself yet as the alternative to the Buhari administration. Credible Nigerians can come together to play the role. As the 2019 election is only a few months away, Nigerians should insist on only the best materials for the country; those who shared the common patrimony and thus imperilled the future should be rejected.

If we must have a new Nigeria, we cannot return so soon to the years of the locusts, nor should we permanently hoist the nation’s flag in the global hall of shame, while expecting that Nigerians would be treated as men and women of dignity by and in foreign lands. It is good that the PDP has confessed to failing Nigerians, but, in this case, the apology is not enough. It is simply ridiculous and unacceptable.

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