For a party whose second name is impunity; one that bled Nigeria for whole of 16 years, it was an unexpected surprise – hopefully an initial first step – towards the long journey to restitution:
“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 admit that we have made several mistakes; we have passed through all our challenges and have acquired the experience no other party can boast of. We were sanctioned by Nigerians at the polls in 2015; let me use this opportunity to apologise for our past mistakes.
“It is the honest thing to do, a legacy to transfer to our children; we cannot continue like that. When we make mistakes, we should come out boldly to the people and apologise”.
That was Uche Secondus, National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at a public forum early this week.
Nearly three years into the hangover of its electoral shellacking, it is heart-warming that the party that plunged the country into the moral and socio-economic abyss from which it is only now slowly recovering is finally coming to terms with the need to apologise to Nigerians. That is if one ignores the superficiality of the apology, the subtle attempt to parry away responsibilities for the most sordid legacy – and the dubious play at semantics.
Is this a genuine act of contrition or is this just part of the electoral calculation? Is the party genuinely repudiating the impunity, the maladministration and corruption for which it is now famously known? And apology for what?
On the first, it is difficult not to see the so-called apology as part of its electoral calculation. With the 2019 elections barely a year from now, it seems understandable that the party would seek to launch itself back into reckoning if not necessarily into the hearts of Nigerians. Moreover, after surviving a bruising internecine schism that tore right through its middle, a sound bite like the one coming from Secondus would appear necessary to court some attention.
On the second, with the way it has been carrying on, it is hard to see the old leopard change its spots anytime soon. Third – and this is tragic – is that the PDP leader refers to the affliction of 16 years – more appropriately a crime against the people – as a “mistake”. We consider it an abuse of the word.
True, Nigerians may be prone to amnesia. However, the wounds inflicted by the PDP are not only still deep but certainly too fresh for any mealy-mouthed apology, no matter how elegantly couched.
By the way, where does the apology start from? From the do-or-die politics that the party enthroned– a variant of which became the garrison politics of the PDP Southwest? Is it the legacy of electoral fraud – the flagrant disdain for orderly democratic processes under which names of winners of party primaries are substituted with those who did not even contest as was the case in Rivers?
Do we recall the case of Edo, Ondo, Osun and Ekiti gubernatorial elections in which winners in the elections were returned as losers until the courts stepped in to do justice?
What about the legacy of underdevelopment? How can anyone begin to talk of an apology for the mind-boggling heist perpetrated by party hierarchs under which governance was reduced to a bazaar without first admitting that crimes were committed against the people if only as a first step into the long journey to full restitution?
Surely, Nigerians recognise genuine contrition when they see one. This so-called apology, aside falling short, makes a mockery of the word. After serially gang-raping the country for 16 years, the least citizens expects is that the party would take deliberate and practical steps to purge itself of its ignoble past. Only then will Nigerians begin to take it seriously.