Very often the first piece of information we have about a person is their name. It’s often the first thing you learn about someone and we form judgments about people very rapidly. This is the case with the People’s Democratic Party today; for its name doesn’t make a good first impression around the globe as it symbolises the worst corruption and maladministration by a political party ever witnessed in any part of the world hence the ill-fated attempt to change the name of the party by its leaders in July.
On the 26th of March, 2018, Uche Secondus, the National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) apologised publicly for the pains and harm they caused Nigerians by their maladministration for sixteen years. Nigerians certainly did not take the apology with a pinch of salt; for they made no attempt at restitution. Is it the apology that would bring back to life millions of our countrymen who died because of the roads that were not repaired despite the appropriation of funds for same? Is it the apology that would comfort families who lost their loved ones as a result of hospitals that were not equipped despite the billions of naira released for same? It is certainly not the apology that would restore to the national treasury billions of dollars that was looted by a select few who became overnight billionaires at the expense of their compatriots. Companies and industries were grounded as a result of the effect of corruption on the polity.
To underscore the lack of remorse by the PDP, they have chosen former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as their Presidential candidate in the 2019 Presidential elections. This irony is not lost on Nigerians; for Atiku was one of the main actors in the maladministration they inflicted upon this Nation for sixteen years. We expected that a party that is truly remorseful would start on a clean slate and offer to Nigerians a candidate that represents the future rather than one that reminds us of the sordid past of the party. How do they expect a man who helped to create this big mess to lead the crusade to clear the augean stable?
Many other organisations were left to die during his reign leading to the saturation of the labour market. This include Nigeria Airways and NITEL whose workers running into thousands lost their jobs. Their pensions and gratuities were not paid for years leading to death of many of them and the displacement of families as well as the loss of dignity of men and women who suddenly found themselves unable to cater for their families. Their children dropped out of school. Would this generation of Nigerians ever forgive Atiku Abubakar whose personal and business fortunes flourished exceedingly between 1999 and 2007? During that period, he acquired private jets, established Schools, Adama Beverages Ltd and several other companies.
Even with the admission of guilt by the PDP as epitomised by their apology, it is very alarming that the PDP expects Nigerians and the APC to gloss over their records in office which is certainly the major reason for the stunted growth of the Nation. They forget that an Atiku candidacy further opens the festering sore of bad governance that has refused to heal. Not even the much-advertised apology to Nigerians by the party has brought it redemption. They cannot run from their shadow, no matter how much they try. It is obvious that the same fate that dealt a cruel blow to their attempt to effect a name change has conspired again to foist an Atiku candidacy on the PDP. This makes it impossible for them to run away from its sordid past.
The most common slogan in Nigeria before May, 2015 was “PDP- Share the Money.” And the money was really shared, but just amongst a small few who held the Nation by the jugular. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Minister of Finance in the PDP Governments of Obasanjo/Atiku and Goodluck Jonathan between 2003 and 2015 has been telling the world the story of the grand corruption that took place during the reign of the PDP in her book ‘Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines.’
I wish the PDP well as it strenuously tries to clothe itself and its Presidential candidate in borrowed robes, but we cannot be fooled. Dr.Okonjo Iweala who certainly knows better as Minister of Finance during the reign of the PDP has said it all. It also speaks volumes that instead of clearing his name, Atiku took some clerics to Ota to beg Obasanjo, his perennial accuser for mercy. Nigeria has been reborn! The APC Government is making Nigeria work for all Nigerians, not for a few who turn around to oppress their fellow citizens with the ill-gotten wealth stolen from the common wealth. Atiku only got Nigeria to work for himself and a few of his cronies between 1999 and 2007 but President Buhari has got Nigeria working for all Nigerians since 29th May, 2015!
By Nduka Enweliku, Lawyer and Political Analyst