Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Since it lost the 2015 general election, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has not hidden its desire to return to power in 2019. To achieve this objective, the party has been trying to reinvent itself, ahead of the poll which is about nine months from now going by the time table released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
After its national convention in December last year, the opposition party returned to the drawing board, as it were, to strategise on how to pull off the rug from the feet of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). In its bid to re-launch itself, the PDP has also tendered a public apology to the country for all the past mistakes it made in the 16 years it held sway as the ruling party in the country.
Speaking at a “Public discourse on contemporary politics and governance in Nigeria”, organised by the party, the party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, begged Nigerians to forgive the party for acts of impunity and imposition, all of which apparently led to the party’s humiliating defeat in 2015.
The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan in statement issued shortly after the public apology, which attracted diverse reactions in the polity, said the gesture is a pathway to national healing, renewal of hope and remobilisation of the citizens for the task of rescuing the nation from the misrule of the APC controlled federal government.
Ologbondiyan further explained that the apology was major because the mistakes of the opposition party paved way for the ruling APC, which he said has ruined the nation’s economy and imposed untold hardship on the people.
According to him, “it is imperative to further state that our apology has to do more with the fact that we made certain mistakes that allowed an anti-people movement to take over governance in our country.
“Our situation under the APC has become so pathetic that the world is now contemplating on how to help us. Under the APC misrule, the average life span of Nigerians has become abysmally low, purchasing power is eroded, the middle class has been wiped off, security is almost non-existent, all the economic gains of the PDP years have been destroyed, and our nation is now placed on auto-pilot.
“It is painful to note that under the nightmarish rule of APC, Nigerians have become so frustrated that they now consider suicide mission and slavery as options. Therefore, our apology is to ask Nigerians, once again, to put their trust in the rebranded PDP, particularly, as our party is the only platform that is committed to the national agenda of peace, unity, justice and prosperous nation,” the PDP said.
After this seeming reconciliation with Nigerians, the PDP has been on the offensive against the ruling APC. From its daily statements, highlighting the shortcomings and failures of the APC led-federal government, to its recent rallies in some parts of the country, the opposition party has been putting the government and the ruling party on the spot.
Recently, the PDP took its onslaught against the federal government a notch higher as it petitioned the United Nations Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, on the alleged gross violation of human rights in the country and ploy to subvert the country’s democracy.
In the petition signed by Secondus, the party accused the government of persecuting opposition politicians under the guise of fighting corruption in the country, abusing human rights and taking steps that are likely to truncate the nation’s democracy among other infractions against the citizens.
“Today, despite our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association and speech, Nigerians now live in fear of this intolerant, overbearing, bigoted and dictatorial administration seeking to foist a fascist regime on our country. How do we explain or justify the evil plan of the APC-led federal government to monitor citizens’ phone calls and social media communication purportedly to check for hate speeches without any enabling law?
“The PDP is alerting the entire world of the increasing aggression and cruelty against opposition members and perceived opponents of government by Federal Government, which is now using the apparatus of state power in their desperation to cow and subjugate opposition, suppress constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech and association in our country. Today, there is thoughtless abuse of human rights in our country and the people now live in fear. Opposition members are now being arrested, manhandled and detained, with some of them having their family houses demolished for holding and expressing legitimate but divergent opinion even under a democracy.
“We decry this raging intimidation of our party officials, members and supporters and call on the United Nations and the International community to stand up and condemn this drift towards stone-age despotism. Nigeria is a democratic state and we reject any attempt by anybody to suppress the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people, particularly, regarding the choice of how they should be governed,” PDP stated in its epistle to the UN scribe.
Earlier, the opposition party had reported President Buhari to the United States’ President, Donald Trump, during Buhari’s recent state visit to the US.
Ologbondiyan, prior to the president’s visit to US had said that the actions of the federal government would be putting the country’s democracy in jeopardy, noting that “Nigeria is facing a perilous time; our constitution has been technically suspended; we have now become a police state; governance has reverted to the nightmares of the 1984 era, when draconian leaders held sway and forcefully held our people under the grips of military Decree 2.”
Reacting to the letter by the opposition to the UN, which was copied to several foreign missions in the country, the presidency dismissed it, just as it described the letter as preposterous.
In a statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Mallam Garba Shehu, the presidency said the opposition party’s allegations against President Muhammadu Buhari and the federal government confirms that the PDP is a bad loser.
“The war against corruption, for which many more politicians may soon be docked, cannot be misrepresented as an attack on human right,” Shehu stated.
While the PDP on one hand is taking the APC to task on the management of the country’s affairs in the past three years, it appears to be mobilising Nigerians too to join in the task to sack the ruling party. In addition, the opposition party has intensified efforts to galvanise other political parties in a strong coalition to battle the APC in the 2019 poll.
In a move akin to taking the battle straight to the door steps of the enemy, the opposition party has been staging rallies at states considered the stronghold of the APC. The rallies started in Dutse, the Jigawa State capital. After Jigawa, the opposition also held another rally in Katsina, home state of President Buhari.
Speaking at the Jigawa rally, Secondus said the process by the opposition party to send APC packing from the presidential villa and most of the states it controls across the country have started in earnest.
The PDP leader noted that there was no reason for the APC to continue in power beyond May 29, 2019.
“All the indices in all sectors of our national life in the past three years show very clearly that Nigeria situation is getting worse and the people cannot wait to see off the APC. From corruption, to security, to the economy, the APC have woefully failed the people of Nigeria and they cannot wait to vote them out,” he stated.
Only recently, the PDP train moved to Osogbo, the Osun State capital, where the party staged its rally for the South- West geo-political zone. The Osogbo rally was attended by leaders of the opposition party across the country, including former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former governor of Jigawa State and PDP presidential hopeful, Sule Lamido among other party leaders.
Atiku and Lamido in their separate speeches at the Osogbo rally said the massive turnout were an indication that that the people are set to send the APC packing in the 2019 general election.
Analysts say the PDP gospel of a new beginning seem to be resonating well with the people, given the massive turn out at the three major rallies, it has held so far.
Additionally, the party appears to have passed its first test in Ekiti, where its candidate for the July 14 governorship poll in the state emerged in a crisis free contest. Whereas, efforts by the ruling party in Ekiti to hold its governorship nomination exercise, days earlier had ended in stalemate as the APC gubernatorial primary was disrupted by arm wielding thugs. .
In his immediate response to the outcome of the PDP governorship primary in Ekiti State, the PDP’s spokesperson, Ologbondiyan noted that what transpired was an indication that internal democracy has returned to the opposition party.