PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Friday fought dirty, trading allegations.
While Buhari likened the PDP to “desperate thieves” who apologised because they were caught, the PDP accused the president of using looted funds for his 2015 election campaigns.
A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity), Garba Shehu, in Abuja, on Friday, had referred to an earlier statement issued by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, which it said was “apt and on cue,” saying that there were heavy moral duties that go with apologies if the culprits want to be taken seriously.
Buhari said the PDP was desperate to recapture power as the former ruling party no longer had unhindered access to national resources for private uses and its apology should be seen in this context.
The Presidency observed that PDP had not even acknowledged the fact that “it plundered the national economy, and for a party that dismissed the anti-corruption war as a political witch-hunt, it is impossible to believe that its public apology comes from the bottom of the heart.”
The statement added: “Even desperate thieves apologise because they are caught and not because they are incapable of repeating the crime if they had another opportunity.
“We believe that the PDP should not only apologise for the imposition of candidates, and the culture of impunity, but must also come clean and acknowledge that they participated in large-scale corruption and massive diversions of public funds to private pockets while poverty was ravaging the ordinary Nigerians.
“We challenge individual PDP leaders to publicly and voluntarily tell Nigerians how much they stole and then agree to cough up their illegal acquisitions of wealth if they want their apology to be taken seriously.
“Apology borne by desperation to recapture power without a desire to admit how much they stole and the reluctance to return the loot is morally hollow. This goes beyond rebranding. Nigerians are not interested in brands. They want their money back.
“For such apology to gain acceptance, the offenders must first of all show remorse; then return that which was unlawfully taken or restore the damage caused the nation; and commit to never doing the wrong they did again. The PDP has done none of these for them to be taken seriously by anyone.
The PDP in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja on Friday. however, threatened to go public with a list of thieves who are allegedly being provided cover by Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) administration after they “looted their states’ resources and deployed such funds” to the president’s 2015 campaign.
It described the president’s cabinet as peopled by former governors who have been indicted by their states of looting funds belonging to the people, the bulk of which were used to finance the president’s campaign three years ago.
The PDP mocked the presidency and the APC for engaging in the “hypocritical media trial” of asking it to refund alleged looted funds when, according to it, the world knew that those who looted the economy “are all in the APC where they have become the poster faces of President Buhari and his discredited party.
The party advised the presidency to direct its demand for refund of stolen funds to President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC, as those responsible for looting are now in the APC where they enjoy the protection of the president.”
The leading opposition party stated that the APC and the presidency had been trying to transfer their vile spirit of vengeance to Nigerians, as manifested in their refusal to let go, even after the citizens had accepted PDP’s apology, which were made in the interest of national healing, renewal and reconciliation.
“The presidency and the APC do not have the spirit of forgiveness. They believe that they must take revenge on everything. This is why they are going about hounding everybody perceived to hold opinions that are contrary to their interest.
“This explains why they have continued to keep people like the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) in detention, even after he has been granted bail by the courts.
“That is why they are after figures like Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, as well as politicians perceived to be interested in the 2019 presidential election.
“The fact, however, is that Nigerians have seen through their vile tendencies and have abandoned them in their vengeance-seeking ventures.
“Moreover, it is incongruous and shameful that the presidency and APC are still engaging in their hypocritical media trial of asking the PDP to refund alleged looted funds, when the world is aware that those who looted the economy are all in the APC where they have become the poster faces of President Buhari and his discredited party.
“While we restate our challenge to the presidency to name any individual in the repositioned PDP indicted for looting public fund, we make bold to state that in President Buhari’s cabinet are former APC governors indicted by their states for looting funds belonging to the people, bulk of which were used to finance the President’s 2015 campaign.
“We also have the list of prominent individuals who were indicted of looting but have since crossed over to the APC where they are now provided cover by the Buhari administration.
“We assert boldly that the PDP has never been convicted or indicted for corruption and that there is no individual in the rebranded PDP who is indicted of looting public funds.
“We challenge the APC and the presidency to make similar claim or keep quiet and hide their faces in shame.
“If not, we will no longer hesitate to go public with the list of indicted individuals in their fold who looted their state resources and deployed such funds to Buhari’s 2015 campaign,” the statement added.