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A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Bode George, shares with AYOOLA OLASUPO his thoughts on the declaration of Bola Tinubu as the President-elect among other national issues.
What is your general assessment of the presidential and National Assembly elections held on Saturday?
Without mincing words, it was shambolic, shameless and full of inadequacies and futility. I am so heartbroken because I thought we were going to lift Nigeria to the level of a civilised world, that from every polling station, the results would be transmitted electronically into the server and it was done during Anambra, Ekiti and Osun states governorship elections. We were all clapping, happy, and ready to elevate this nation from the dull room of filth to the level of a civilised world. And as a professor, I am so disappointed, because if the National Chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, knew that there were hitches in the system, the best he could have done morally was to say ‘stop’ to all these operations. He continued with the shenanigans, rubbish and nonsense and started collating, and went back to the old system where they were manipulating the results.
Did you see it coming that Atiku would lose the election?
In our party, I kept shouting and reminding these people that a divided house will be a defeated house. We have created the avenue for these things but that will be a port-mortem analysis within the party. As an elder in the party and a member of the Board of Trustees, we saw it coming. We discussed it because of the failings of the managers of the party. I told them that the South-West had been completely disenfranchised. Look at the way those children came out. The kids between the ages of 18 and 35 came out in millions believing this is the time. They want to change the direction of Nigeria but what did we give them?
Would you ascribe that loss to the lack of support from the G-5 and Integrity Group?
Of course, where did Peter Obi come from? Most of the people who got angry went away from the PDP; a divided house is a defeated house. You said the South-West doesn’t matter. If they added Obi’s votes to PDP’s, Tinubu would have been washed away. Divided we fall, and you can see it even with the manipulation that they did. The Labour Party won them because people are tired of the All Progressives Congress. In Lagos now they are trying now to espouse the theory of Gbadebo Rhodes-Vivour being an Igbo man. You see the lie, who told them Rhodes-Vivour is an Igbo man? Saturday is the election and it will be based on justice, fairness, and equity. I pray that Yakubu and his team use the electronic transmission of results otherwise he will send this country to the bottom of the sea.
Are you saying if Obi had remained in PDP, there is a high probability the party would have won the election?
If Obi and all those G-5 governors had come together to resolve this mismanagement by managers of the party when they put the cap of arrogance on their heads, I told them a divided house is a defeated house but that will be a story for another day. The arrogance, evil rant, and lacklustre attitude exhibited by them to forget about the tenets established by the founding fathers didn’t help the party and I said to them ‘If you don’t change this, I will not vote for him (Atiku).’
APC and LP won most of the states under the watch of the G-5 governors like Oyo, Benue, Rivers, Enugu, and Abia states, is that the plan for the PDP to lose their states?
I don’t know. As a father of this party, I’ve spent 25 years on high cliffs running on the field, fighting for justice, fairness and equity, which were what attracted me to the PDP in the first instance. Those founding fathers created a super methodology to unite every part of Nigeria. To think about the inclusivity in the management of this phase but they started deviating, practicing things that are not in the constitution pretending that they are stronger than you but all of them met themselves on the floor ‘Won lule’ like Tinubu would say. It is a lesson.
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You said some members of the party were practicing things that were not in the constitution. Based on your observation as a chieftain of the party, what are those things you have observed that they are practicing?
When you find an elder sitting by the side of a tree and a young man climbs to the top part of the tree, what that old man will see the young man will not see. So I hope this will be a lesson and we will shut the doors and tell ourselves some whole truths so that the party that these people established only carries the colours of this nation from the swampy forest to the savannah region. It will not die today. APC is a party of contraction, a congregation of strange fellows. That is what we have got but we overpriced ourselves, we were over-arrogant. In politics, I think this will be a lesson more than any political science class.
Some of the G-5 governors like Samuel Ortom and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi lost their senatorial bids to an opposition party in their states, how does that make you feel?
I feel really sad. Of course, it’s an attempt to kill the key figures in the battle. I don’t see the LP as a party per say. It is a movement. People got tired of the lacklustre attitude of these two political parties. The younger generation including my children told me to my face that daddy I am voting for this new party. We are tired of your PDP and APC. That was what happened in Lagos. We made it clear that if you don’t make a southern person the presidential candidate of our party we are not going to work with you. It is a misery.
The PDP under Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State lost the majority of the elective positions to the APC in the state. Are you worried that Makinde might lose his re-election?
I keep praying for him but there is a limit a father can do for a son. You are a sitting governor waiting for the next election and they are now praising Bola Tinubu with their song. You are sending conflicting signals to the party that you are building. This will have very terrible consequences. He is my son and I pray that may Almighty God delivers him so he will learn a big lesson. Right now, we lost all three senatorial districts. We have lost 10 House of Representatives out of 14. It is scary and a tactical error on his part to have been praising the opposition when his own members are willing to contest the same election against this opposition.
PDP is a strong party, why is it that it could not win Lagos State all these years but the Labour Party did it on Saturday?
You know what happened? The same type of electoral process that Yakubu adopted had been at play in Lagos State. A cheat likes a rag house, they manipulate the result like a rag house. They play it as if they are in a gambling house, that’s all. The younger generation, the #EndSARS boys came out that they are tired of APC and PDP. The result was resounding here in Lagos. They beat the two of them blue and black. It’s a result of the anger in these kids.
From what happened on Saturday, are you hopeful your party would win the governorship election in Lagos State?
Well, the most sensible thing to do is to get back to our tactical table and reorder our priority. We should all agree that these people should be shown the way out at the discussion table and anybody that thinks he wants to go on his own, we will wish him good luck. Let nobody go and threaten any tribe whether Igbo, Hausa, or Yoruba. We will not allow it.
Is there any plan that PDP will collaborate with the LP in Lagos State in the governorship election?
I don’t know yet. I think that will be the most sensible thing for them to do but I don’t know yet. We still have some hours ahead of us and so many things can still happen. We pray for the best but we must start from Yakubu and his team for honesty of purpose, fairness, justice, equity, civility, and the fear of God the almighty. It is for all of us to beg the Almighty God to forgive us all our sins otherwise if you intentionally sin against your creator, you will suffer.
Former governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, has insisted that Ayu must resign. Do you align with that?
It is not a matter of aligning with that. I am an older person to both of them. I said let us have a post-mortem analysis. I will not discuss these people on the pages of newspaper. When the time comes and we get to the bridge we will cross it. There will be an analysis of the conduct of this election.
What do you think is the next step to unite the party, now that it has lost the election?
No, we will get back. Who are the characters causing problems in the party? We have forgotten that people will vote and the ones that will vote are much more than the card-carrying members of the party. We will take a decision when the time comes but let’s go and fight the methodology used by Yakubu and his team at the court because it is not acceptable to use.
Tinubu has been declared the president-elect, do you have the trust that he will be able to deliver on his campaign promises?
I don’t live inside him. I don’t know what he will deliver. Based on my perception of what he did in my state here, I wish Nigeria the best of luck. I don’t put my money on a dark horse, no. I will not.
Will you be giving Tinubu the needed support as your kinsman or you are not disposed to that?
If all issues are resolved judiciously in the court of law and he becomes the President, I wish him the best. If there is no manipulation and they are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that he won the election, I wish him the best of luck. I wish Nigeria the best of luck. I am 80 years old, what am I still looking for that Almighty God has not granted me? I thank God for my life. I have also put 25 years each in the military and politics so that is 50 years of my life in the public domain. There is no part of Nigeria that is not worthy to live in so what is the problem that we are self-inflicting pains on ourselves?
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You recently debunked a statement that the INEC chairman met with Tinubu at his residence in Lagos State on the night of the presidential election which several reports claimed to have emanated from you. Do you think that was a ploy to tarnish your image?
Of course, you know once you are a public figure you can’t escape such. I know some spin doctors from all quarters must have done that and I replied to them that those who spin that kind of thing have no sense. They are not civilised and honest because they said I said Professor Yakubu came in the night when everybody knew he was on the television till about midnight talking. I was watching him from my house. The second point is that do I work in the control tower or am I one of the operation officers of the airport? It is so senseless and stupid. I call them first class nuisance.
The winner, Tinubu, is from your state and the presidency of Nigeria is a lot of work, have you congratulated him or will you still do it?
He is not from my state. He should now come clean because he is from Iragbiji in Osun State. Tell the truth and let the devil be ashamed. He is claiming Lagos but that is not true. The battle is still long. If Yakubu had gone through the process and as enacted by the law and he turns out to be the winner, we would have congratulated him.
Since the G-5 and Integrity Group were rooting for a southern president, would you say a Tinubu presidency had compensated for that?
No, but let’s get it all right because Peter Obi is still contending that Tinubu didn’t win and Atiku and Kwankwaso are also doing that. At the end of the day, let’s see what the justices will come up with. They must be honest because it will be real classical in the books of political science and the rule of law. Let them amend this in the computation and whatever they had done.
The G-5 and Integrity Group did not openly support any presidential candidate, does it mean you didn’t have any candidate, and if you did, who was your candidate?
Tentatively they said the presidency must come to the south. I can definitively tell you that the decision was that the presidency must come to the South. Let every state go and examine and do their tactical plans and decide which person to nominate. That was the decision of the Integrity Group and the G-5. That’s all.
The presidential candidate of your party, Atiku Abubakar, is going to the tribunal, do you think he might be able to reclaim that mandate?
I don’t know and that is why I am praying to God because I am not a soothsayer. Let the will of the people prevail. Obi has filed his case at the court and Atiku said he would do that too. Let us wait for the judiciary.
Peter Obi is also going to the tribunal, do you think he stands a chance?
Absolutely, if he can go there and prove his case and prove the figures that he has and the figures that Yakubu and his team gave to him.
You, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe, and Moshood Salvador used to collectively resist what you called Tinubu’s dominance in Lagos, but you seem to be alone now. How is your relationship with them at the moment?
There are different characterisations. I am Bode George and I am proud of my family from my childhood, all my friends know that anything that is not proper I will not move near it so the culture I imbibed is what has sustained me till today. They both have some kind of character so I don’t belong to them and I will never belong to them. I joined the party because of certain things and I have not seen any other political party that has defeated those principles.
Did you vote for Atiku?
I didn’t mince my words. I said it publicly that they have totally discountenanced the wishes of the South-West and we are not part of anything. Their presidential candidate is from the North-East, the National Chairman is from North Central, the vice-presidential candidate is from the South-South, and the acting chairman of the Board of Trustees is from the South-East. Who is there from the South-West? Zero! I told them to reorganise themselves for our people to be part of it.
You once said that you would leave Nigeria and renounce your citizenship if Tinubu emerged as president. Now that he has been declared as the winner of the election, will you still renounce your citizenship and leave Nigeria?
That is still on my plan. If I decide on what to do, I wish you well. I’m not looking for a job, I have everything I want and how much can I eat? I also have my children and they are no longer kids. They are all mature so what am I looking for? My wife is there. She will take good care of me. I will stay in Nigeria depending on the outcome of this because I know there might be a hell of a problem.
Which country do you plan on relocating to?
You know I am a military lord so I can go anywhere in any part of the world and I will be looking at you, people. I have even decided that having put 25 years each in the military and politics which is 50 years of my life in the public domain, I need rest so whatever I see at the end of this thing. I’m retiring from partisan politics and will be enjoying the rest of my life.
Culled from THE PUNCH