Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, in this interview with some journalists, speaks on some national issues. BOLA BADMUS brings the excerpts:
CAN we have your view on the spate of killings in the Middle Belt and northern part of the country?
I have spoken about it, but there are times you are quiet and there are times you talk. In the community that I was brought up, when things are not going on well, the elders speak.
They should be able to find solution to the challenges, I have lived a great deal of my life and I thank God that I am in my mid 70s. I have never seen things happening this way. I made suggestions at that time on how things should be handled; this is not the time for partisan politics.
This is a serious national security matter, I suggested that the President and those in government must deliberately call for meeting of stakeholders to find solution to the problems, this is the way I see it.
That was the way things were handled when I was younger in the community I lived. They should leave behind their personal ambition and interests and rise up for the corporate interests of our nation.
We should have religious leaders, traditional rulers and prominent leaders to look into the matter. We still have past presidents, prominent leaders, who are still alive and can look at the matter with us. Things are not done this way, from my perception, God put the tribal limit there and that was not by accident.
Right now, we are heading to elections, my suggestion is that we should talk and proffer solutions. This is not the time to say I am in government, you are in the opposition. We should speak out and it is disheartening when you look at what is going on.
There are three things in life that you don’t control, the day you were born, the tribe you will be born into and the day you will exit this world.
If you have that at the back of your mind, then you will love your neighbours as yourself. This is in our commandment and I have been privileged, through politics, military and going round every corner of this country, I must say Nigeria is a blessed nation.
Every section of the country has been endowed with one great resource or the other. But, today, we have raised the stake of religious bigotry beyond comprehension.
Let us fear God and remove this toga of greed, personalised ambition and let the corporate resources be for the use of the people. That is why we must meet to resolve the problems.
We should be able to talk about the real issue without fear or favour. No individual can solve the matter, professor alone can’t resolve the matter, it must be collectively addressed.
Your party (PDP) recently signed a MoU with 38 other political parties, what does the party stand to gain from the coalition?
This nation must survive, I don’t want to be partisan now, I want to be factual. We want to have a government that will harness the resources of this country; that can manage the resources of this country for the betterment of our people. So, if you look back, even from 1960, have you ever heard of political parties with different ideologies? The parties’ ideologies are simply to the right, left, centre right and centre left. But, that is not our problem in Africa. Do you know where our problems lie? They lie in failure to provide or basic necessities like basic education, good housing, employment for graduates and those who are not graduates. We must be able to create investment in the country for sustainable economic activities, good agriculture and so on.
Today, we are number zero with all the abundant resources, then what is wrong? Whatever you need for your survival is here in Nigeria.
Remove that toga of greed and selfishness and look at your land and tap into the resources. As you move from one area to another, God has endowed us. By the year 2040, the Oyinbo (white) people will no longer produce petrol vehicle, the petrol you depend on will no longer be relevant.
This is the time they start preparing for the rainy days. The technology will be based on electric powered machines and do we even have enough electricity to run our homes?
So, talking about the coalition, ideologically there is no difference. I remember when we were having a national convention, issues that we would have sat down together to address, we allowed them to get out of our hands. And some of our brothers and sisters headed out.
I also remember this coalition that came up with the APC, I remember I told my people, who headed out that they should remember they were landlords in the PDP, you are merely in their coalition as tenants.
I used the analogy that if your house as a landlord is leaking, you as a landlord, do you abandon the house to be a tenant in another house? You definitely will make sure you fix the leakage, so as to remain in the house.
The founding fathers of the PDP established some procedures that were solid foundation, insisting on democratic tenets. I said it that the coalition some PDP members went into with the APC was coalition of strange bed fellows. What has it turned out to be now?
They see themselves as CPC, ACN, ANPP and APGA, how can the centre hold? And because there is no ideological difference, people can easily move from one platform to another.
I am a Lagosian, it is the centre of excellence, it is the largest income generating state. This is because Lagos is very accommodating, because two heads are always better than one. The people of Lagos, who converge here supported the growth, why can’t we replicate the same thing all over Nigeria.
Many APC lawmakers including governors have returned to the PDP, what does it portend for the party in 2019?
Do you remember that prodigal son in the Bible? He told his father to give him his own part of the money that he wanted to go. The father asked him to wait, but he insisted his father gave him his share.
They gave him the share and he headed out, socialising everywhere and mismanaging the money. When he could no longer sustain himself, he went out there to fend for himself and got the worst job.
He worked like a steward serving the pigs and even eating what should ordinarily go for the pigs.
One day he looked at his condition and decided to return to his father in submissive condition. This is a lesson for the party and what do you call experience?
It is something that you acquire over periods, it is not taught in the classroom. That is to say, what an old man can see when sitting down, the young man cannot see it even when he climbed the roof top.
That is what I have been saying and whatever it is, we must look back to watch where we have been coming from. I am so happy that these people have decided to come to the fold.
And because we are not on the same ideological page, you jump from conservative position and you now say you are liberalist. They will say this man is a 419, not believing what you say because it is not so easy to jump from conservatism to liberalism.
We must manage whatever we have in the interest of those there and those coming behind rather than heading out just because of minor challenge. God almighty will direct us as long as we are fair and just.
If we succeed in doing that, we would have convinced Nigerians that this unnecessary imposition, illegal disposition and disregard for the constitution are something that should not be.
You have to get your PVC and once you get your ballot paper, you ask yourself, am I better off today now? If you are better off; vote the APC and if you are not better off, vote the alternative.
Every four years we renew the mandate and that is the time you decide whether to vote or not another party.
We learnt of moves by PDP to change its name to another name, what is wrong with the present name?
There is nothing wrong with the name PDP. The founding fathers laid down the policies copiously quoted as the statement of the founding fathers.
They ensured all party positions must be zoned and micro zoned, ensuring that every part of the country benefit from the arrangement. They decided that position must be rotated among the zones.
That on its own will guarantee that you are not just an onlooker; take your time, turn by turn.
Nigeria is not the first place to adopt the model, the people of Switzerland, the French and the Germans did the same thing. For me that question of changing name is not an issue, we will get over that.
It may be difficult, but as long as PDP sticks to its guns, we will get there. This is an opportunity to set itself on the path of development, not one step forward and another one backward.
The Ekiti election has been concluded, how do you rate INEC’s performance?
You know I want to reserve my comment on the Ekiti election because I don’t believe we lost it, Ekiti election, I don’t believe it personally. There may be some external forces that resulted in the loss so far but we would go to the tribunal and put our case before the jury and at that time, the rest of the world would hear our own side of the story.
I must commend the good people of Ekiti that they didn’t resort to violence or anything like that. They’ve been very calm, but it’s graveyard calmness. I don’t want to give my own personal opinion, I don’t have, I am just a leader. When the party has finished its own post-mortem analysis, they would bring a collective party position. But for me personally, I don’t believe we lost it. So many things, you know in electioneering thing, there are so many factors that go around and go along with it, but that is for our own internal consumption. We wait for the party’s position, maybe we would call a meeting, let’s do a post-mortem analysis and information would be given and then we can prepare ourselves for the tribunal.
On Osun, I was not involved, my suggestion was that we should have been able to handle all those people, we would reduce them to the barest minimum and then look at them, do thorough ex-ray, analysis of each candidate. But now that they’ve done the primary, the report I am hearing is that party managers are doing what I said should have been a pre-primary exercise and it’s now being done post-primary. But I am sure that if the love of the party is still there, whatever agreement they make, but we should take that as a lesson, but it is better to do it before, rather than post.
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