Former Deputy National Chiarman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Bode George recently marked his 71st birthday in Lagos. He spoke with reporters on the state of the nation, the crisis in the party and other issues. MUSA ODOSHIMOKHE was there.
What is your assessment of the state of the nation?
Many topical issues have come to the fore these days. Abraham Lincoln said that it is not when everything is rosy that we know who is a leader. It is when there is problem, tribulation that you know who are genuine leaders. I believe this is still relevant as in Lincoln’s days. So, where are we going as a nation and this is not political now.I belong to the PDP but at the same time General Muhammadu Buhari and I belongs to a very important profession in this country, which is the military. I also retired as a General and when I sit back and keep thinking that what is happening, this is not issue of politics now.
Which of the issues do you think should be quickly addressed?
I look at the issue of the Niger Delta militants, the Boko Haram, the comments and movements of Nigerians about our brothers in the South South; my advice to my Oga (Buhari)is softly softly. Like my grandmother used to say, slow slow catch monkey. Those people who lived in the South South also Nigerians, they are not enemies of this country. The degradation of the place is despicable. The late President Umaru Yar’adua went into dialogue with them and came up with a solution to improve the lives of those youths and many of them through the amnesty programme, many are abroad studying different courses. Many of them are now stranded in Universities both in Nigeria and abroad. Now, thinking as an economist because I also did an MBA, that area is the source of income to our treasury. Our oil production has dropped massively and that is affecting the income of this country. If you now think how much will be expended to keep them in school and support those people versus how much we are losing into the treasury, there is need to dialogue. I plead with Oga as a Staff Officer, as a junior and as a Naval Officer, the inclemency of that arrear will not augur well for any welfare. He should please reconsider it because as a political leader he loses nothing by encouraging your citizens for better life. So, if we don’t have an income how will they do the social services required for the majority of Nigerians- supporting the education, ensuring that salaries are paid at all times, all these Naira nosediving. We are the largest concentration of blacks anywhere in the world. There is no known profession in the world where you wont find at least two Nigerians that are experts, we are incredibly gifted. So, what is our problem? I’ve seen both military and civilian government. The beauty of what is a democratic system is that you must dialogue, you must reach out and listen, and otherwise, it becomes monotony. Democracy is not monolithic, it’s a creation of dialogue; sometimes you win some and sometimes you lose some. That is one major area of cocern for me as a Nigerian at this age. I was told that the pipeline they recently repaired was blown up again.
What are you advising the government to do to halt the crisis in the Southsouth?
What is required in that region is not warfare, it is dialogue. There must be a lot of patience. When you contest an election and you wants the people to vote for you, what you are simply telling them is trust me I will use the resources of that nation for the benefit of the people and not for the benefit of few. Even when people are talking rubbish, you must listen. So, politically, we must endear ourselves to the majority. I remembered during his tenure, President Jonathan sets up these mobile schools for the Fulanis, nomadic education. It is because that kind of thing is akin to people from that part of our country; you must take care of them. In another part or section of the country, where they require another support, you must support them. This is not politics but talking as patriotic Nigerian. Oga should sit back, take a deep breath and revisit some of these issues, you lose nothing that is why you canvassed for their votes, willingly they gave you, so you are a servant to them.
The PDP has been engulfed in crisis for a while, but the struggle for the Ondo State governorship ticket got to the Supreme Court before it was resolved…
There is a fundamental tripod in; a three-legged body is a very stable platform. The same thing in democratic governance, there is a tripod-the executive, legislature and the judiciary, it’s a three-legged body, very stable platform but if one is out or wobbly, you have two left and its not stable anymore. Although they are independent of each other, they have to work hand-in-glove to sustain democratic dispensation. When I saw what happened, I thought I was in another panel. The electoral laws are clear on primaries and that was what was followed in Akure to elect Jegede as the party’s candidate. But it was laughable that someone went to Ibadan, Oyo State, conducted its own primaries that defied the provisions of the electoral act. They now went to this Justice Abang who now stamped it for them and legitimized and illegality, what will history write about this Justice Abang. We must however commend the ruling of the Supreme Court which threw out Poroye’s abuse of court processes and finally re-established the rule of law and the fairness doctrine in our nation. The deliberate attempt to distort and sabotage the democratic norm has now been nullified and disowned. Truth, equity, the sturdy balance of the democratic frame are now alive and well in our nation. Thank God, democracy has been saved.
The justices of the Supreme Court have firmly re-established the hope of the common man in the impartial thoroughness of the judiciary. In putting themselves on the right side of history, the Supreme Court Justices have declared very loudly that the rule of law must always prevail over arbitrariness and the rule of the jungle in order to protect the integrity and the delicate sinews of the democratic structures. In their adherence to preserve the truth and protect the delicate tripod of the democratic platform, the Supreme Court justices have invoked the chastening words of the Holy Book, Amos 5 verse 22- 24:
“Even though, you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them…..But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream!”
The underlying import of this ruling is clear and firm: the Makarfi caretaker committee is implicitly affirmed as the authentic and valid entity to steer the cause of our party to a new dawn of progress and stability.
Do you support the call for the change of name for the PDP as being moved in some quarters?
Well, I know some people have been running around that we should change the name of the party, some even say let us leave PDP and start another party. But the truth is that the hood doesn’t make the monk. We are Nigerians; in whatever masquerade you want to come out, we are still Nigerians. The rest of the world is watching us. I will say this, to err is human to forgive is divine; Yes, we (PDP) erred, by our last election we erred. We made a fundamental mistake and we should accept that to the public. There is nobody who is above mistake.
What are the mistakes?
We made many mistakes; the way election was handled, the way it was conducted. I won’t say more that.
Is Ali Modu Sheriff part of the mistakes?
He was a monumental mistake. He takes one crazy person to throw a stone in the well and one million Professors won’t be able to find the stone, that is where we have found ourselves.
With the mistakes the PDP has made, do you think the party has a future?
Very brilliant! Let me tell you why I said that. If you look at the historical establishment of this party, the founding fathers, Chief Bola Ige, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Baba Solomon Lar, among others under the same roof. Since 1952, all political parties are based on purely on tribes; Action Group, Western Region; Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), North; and the NCNC (East) though it was started in Lagos by Herbert Macaulay but took to the East by late Nnamdi Azikiwe. All these parties are heavily tribal parties. But the PDP has a very deep rooted taproot, otherwise we would have gone under. Would you leave your house and build a new one because your house is leaking? So, when people say PDP is going to die and they should go and change the name, I differ with them on that because the tap root of PDP is solid otherwise after we lost the election we would have gone under completely. The best thing we can do is to strengthen the PDP and we are already in the process.
Source : ThenationonlineThenationonline