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What did Secondus apologise for?

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PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus


I am intrigued by the apology the national chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, tendered to Nigerians March 27. He said the party made mistakes during its 16 years in power at federal, state and local government levels. He asked for forgiveness and promised, like an errant child, it would not sin against the nation and the people again if the people take his words for it and put his party back in power in 2019.

I have no mandate to speak for fellow Nigerians. I only know that being large-hearted, we would have no problems accepting the apology and forgiving the party we once reduced from its height as the biggest in Africa to an atomistic party in comflict with itself. Our two great religions place a high premium on forgiveness for those who make mistakes and say they are sorry. The chairman’s admission and apology would not go unnoticed by those who care to notice.

This may well be the new political game in town. Secondus thinks it is a unique way to woe the electorate. If every party feels that loses power is contrite enough to apologise for the squandering of opportunities to make the nation great but made it smaller than it met it, we could take it that there is a shaft of light in the dark souls of our politicians. No mean blessing that, if you have some ideas about the content of the soul of our politicians.

Is this a cascade of candour? If so, what mistakes did he really apologise for? Was it that those elected on its platform in the executive and legislative branches of government did what the nation did not pay them to do for 16 years? Was it for the management of the economy such that the rich got stinkingly wealthier and the poor were roundly pounded and pauperised? Was for the billions of dollars spent on electricity that has become something of abracadabra? Was it for the roads not fixed and yet we saw road contractors grinning from ear to ear? Was it for the legacy of the culture of impunity and the flagrant of abuse of the rule of law? Was it for the emasculation of the opposition parties that rapidly moved the nation down the overgrown path of a one-party rule soon after we emerged from the frozen region of military dictatorship?

Secondus is a new man on the throne on which the likes of Chief Solomon Lar, Chief Tony Anenih and Col Ahmadu Ali once sat and magestirally decided the fate of our country from the comfort zone of the party platform. Do these men think the party made mistakes in any way in its handling of national issues that touch our lives individually and collectively for which it should now apologise? Lar is no more with us but the other two are. Let us hear from them if the PDP is, indeed, sorry for leading the nation down the garden path and cynically squandering the promises of democracy in the time it took to say, PDP.

Chief Obasanjo was the first man elected president on the platform of the party. He ruled for two terms. The man who set out to do titanic things for the country would be the last man to admit that the party made any mistakes that he, as its national leader, should apologize for. At least, it made none under his watch, I think.

President Umaru Yar’Adu is no longer with us and cannot be interrogated on what mistakes the party made during his two-term tenure as governor of Katsina State or as president. But his successor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, is with us. Would he admit to any mistakes the party made in his experience as governor of Bayelsa State, as vice-president, as acting president and as president for one term plus some months? I do not think that fair-minded men and women would regard the salacious stories of rampant graft under his watch as anything more than the evidence of his generous heart. Nothing to do with mistakes of the head or the heart. Or, so I think.

So, where does this leave the party? It seems to me that Secondus has inadvertently made a joke of what the party and its agents in government failed to do to make this nation rise on fee of steel. Instead it has become a giant with broken legs. PDP did not just make mistakes; it made serious mistakes by failing to institute a leadership recruitment process that would ensure the emergence of good and serious-minded people in the executive and the legislative branches of government.

The mistakes of a political party, like those of a medical doctor, have serious consequences. World history is about the mistakes that brought down governments and ended the reign of kings, emperors, presidents and prime ministers. The fate of a nation is shaped as much by thoughtful actions as by grievous mistakes of leaders. When voters turn their back on a political party, they usually do so for good reasons boiled down to one sentence: we no longer trust you.

Political parties and their leaders would never be above making mistakes. A political party is a human institution. No one would be so naïve as to expect it to be anything but human. But there are honest mistakes and there are bad mistakes. The first are products of poor judgements. PDP made them. The second are products of arrogance arising from man’s inability to resist the temptation to play God with the appurtenances of political power and patronage at his disposal. PDP made them. It paid dearly for these mistakes in 2015, as indeed it should. Would the admission of failure or rather mistakes make for a new, improved PDP in 2019? We await the people’s verdict in about one year from now.

From my mailbag
I have just read your beautiful piece in today’s The Guardian titled “Turning our policemen into baby sitters.” For some of us retired police officers, and for me as a person who spent the total of my very active life as a policeman, the situation you highlighted is, to say the least, an embarrassment. But what you have seen is a manifestation of malady in our governing system. A symptom of diffusion in our system.

Nigeria is a country that showcases a theatre of the absurd. A state of anomie. The same elite complaining of the wrongful deployment of the policemen are the same group putting unbearable pressure on the Inspector-General of Police to post policemen to them and their cronies. Take a close look at the National Assembly. Check on the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and the principal officers of the two chambers and indeed all the members and staff who have policemen attached to them. You will be shocked at the humongous number. It is obscene and distasteful. But that is not all that it portends. These policemen, so posted continuously lose touch with their constituency and professionalism. Oftentimes, they seek for undeserved promotions and other benefits over and above their counterparts who daily toil in the service of the Nigeria Police.

The cumulative effect of all these is the creation of disaffection amongst policemen which leads to the erosion of the ever cherished espirit de corps in the service and ultimately to a fall in the quality of service of the police.I am shocked, surprised and embarrassed at the statement credited to my friend and colleague, Sir Mike Okiro, as contained in your write-up today. He is the chairman of the Police Service Commission. I believe that if he values integrity and knows the meaning of shame, the proper thing to do is to resign this appointment. He can then lament from outside.

Methinks that the situation will grow worse as we move on unless two things among others are urgently put in place. First, appointment and removal of the Inspector-General of Police should be made as much as possible out of the grip of politicians. He should enjoy some measure of independence.

It is only then that he can take radical steps that can stop the abuse of the use of policemen.And let me ask for the umpteenth time, what has happened to the Bill on the Police Trust Fund? The last I heard on this was from the deputy senate president when he put the blame on the delay to the fact that all monies accruing to the federal government agencies must be appropriated before spending. There is no quarrel about that.

The fact is that whatever accrues from this source goes into the consolidated fund from where it is appropriated by the National Assembly. The police budget would have been prepared taking into account the source of the funding of the police. It is then and only then that the police can have a relief from the scourge of underfunding which is the basis of the problems that has put the Nigeria Police in its beggarly position.I am convinced that the situation will grow worse unless immediate, pragmatic and lasting decision is taken.
Barr Samuel A Adetuyi, Commissioner of Police (rtd)Lagos


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