Imagine what a mess last weekend would have been if the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was still the party in power. Its national officials would have been in Ughelli, Delta state, celebrating James Ibori, a man who pleaded guilty to monumental fraud and money laundering and was sentenced to 13 years in jail as a result.
The UK court which jailed Ibori said he stole in excess of 200 million pounds from the people of the state. Ordinarily, the chieftains of the party would be putting distance between themselves and a convicted felon, but in Nigeria’s disjointed moral space, Ibori continues to exert influence and so the PDP is doing its best to cuddle him.
The members of the PDP National Working Committee who attended a reception in Ibori’s honour in Ughelli, wore outfits with the ex-convict’s face imprinted on them, and made a boldfaced attempt to whitewash history.
“Our leader (Ibori) has passed through political tribulations because he believes in the people and considers the poor. He believes in the masses; that is why God delivered him,” said Prince Uche Secondus, the PDP national chairman.
That’s a lie. In reality, Ibori stole from the people, offered them pittance and became a hero. God did not deliver him; he served jail time, although he continued to exert influence from prison as Secondus himself confessed.
“Before the 2015 elections, I received a call from our leader (Ibori), and I asked him the direction. He (Ibori) told me Okowa should be supported. I was then the Deputy National Chairman. I gathered all my people; I said I have received an order from our leader. Your Excellency, I am grateful that your decision was right. That is how we supported Dr. Okowa because the leader spoke to us,” he said.
In other words, in the value system of the PDP, a convicted felon called a high official of the party and issued orders on who the party must support. Ordinarily it is something to be ashamed of, but the PDP and maybe – Nigeria – is not ordinary, and so such a misbehavior is celebrated.
With the same tongue he used in exposing the enshrined values system in the main opposition party, Secondus began to talk about rescuing Nigeria from collapse. He said it is the PDP who can save the country from the looming total collapse under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress government, said that the lies and propaganda upon which the APC rode to power wouldn’t work in 2019.
“On Monday, we will be in Jigawa and will move across the nation to let Nigerians know that it is only the PDP that can rescue this nation. An APC senator, Dino Melaye, said that in three years, APC borrowed N11 trillion. PDP ruled for 16 years but only N6 trillion was borrowed. Who is more corrupt? Where is power?’’ Secondus said, without irony or shame.
And because of the institutional support Ibori continues to receive from the PDP and from the government and people of Delta state who he sinned against, the ex-convict was able to make this statement: “I have forgiven everyone both within and outside. That’s how God said I should do it.”
The thief who confessed to stealing has “forgiven” those he stole from. And all is right in the PDP, and Delta, and Nigeria.