Chief Olabode George, former military governor of Ondo State and former Deputy National Chairman, People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in this interview, responds to topical issues in the polity and his party. Excerpts:
President Goodluck Jonathan, the leader of your party is in the eye of the storm over 2015. How do you feel?
Nigeria has come this far because the concept of the PDP constitution has sustained democracy up till now. Never in the history of our nation have we been able to sustain democracy from 1999 and we are now in 2013: that is talking about 14 years. Never!
So, there is no need to pull anybody down because the man you pull down will also pull you down and so, where have you gone? And it is there in Romans Chapter 14 that whosoever that God has given an authority, he did not get there by his own effort. Let us support him. He is our leader and it is our nation.
Some of these people who have been given opportunities to govern smaller states are now coming to say that they know more than we know they know. When they were in government, they saw governance as a source of unimaginable income. The amount of acquisitions; the maddening amount of acquisition of the prime property, the assets of the state they were given, is mind boggling.
Conversion of land for personal use
Every day people wake up, what you see is unbelievable. Ikoyi has now become another high rise prime area. Who owns these properties? All the land in Ajah, lands dedicated for hospitals have been converted to their personal use. Hotels have been springing up, Local Government secretariats that had been in existence before they were born have been acquired.
Hostel of the only Nursing School in Lagos State, located on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, has already been acquired. And these are the same people who are asking Nigerians that, “Yes, we can perform! We would govern Nigeria well.”
Is there a semblance of democratic practice in that party of theirs? So, I chuckle when I see these first class jokers, who have been tested and have been found to be complete failure, saying that they want to go and rule Nigeria.
They want to join up with General Buhari. But the General Buhari that I know; his standing, his personality, his commitment, his belief is exact opposite to these characters here. So, sometimes I get confused that General Buhari is sincerely talking to these men. It is like a movie to me. It is like a theatre house. How can water and oil mix? What he has stood for in his life and what they stand for; they cannot meet. They are like day and night.
And they have the temerity to say that they are the leader of Yoruba, they are carrying Yoruba people. I wish tehy would go back and read the history of the Yoruba people. Because, they are fake. No semblance of the real, true genuine Yoruba.
They do not have anything that look like the depth, the norm, the belief of the Yoruba people. What a huge joke therefore! I wish one day that somebody would bring him on the television for public debate. I am challenging him to come on the television for a public debate; let us talk to Nigerians. Let us debate before the people what they have done for this country.
You sound angry. Why?
You know people would say yes, Bode George is angry. No! Very soon I will be 70 years old. What else am I looking for? Am I going to start all over again? Can I live another 70 years before I pack up and go back to my God? No. Mine may be the only voice in the wilderness but I will continue to shout at the top of the mountain that this is a path of perfidy they are going through.
It is not a righteous way. Now they are shouting that Jonathan has not performed and that they would push him out of government. Tinubu that was governor of Lagos State for eight years, what did he do?
Even the young man that is still running Lagos now, Babatunde Raji Fashola has done much better than him. Does he allow him to work? They say he is de facto leader, that is what he calls his name. All the things about these jokers in ACN are laughable.
The other one in Osun, who no longer calls himself an engineer but ‘Ogbeni’, what is his performance there? Lai Mohammed is always talking on top of his voice, talking garbage! I knew him when he came to Lagos as a Level 6 or Level 8 officer at FAAN. Today he can talk, tell stories and lies.
He said the Federal Government has done something injurious to the judiciary and to the psyche of Nigeria by proscribing Boko Haram. Are these guys genuine? How can anybody wake up and say the government has done something injurious by proscribing Boko Haram? Are they alright? Oh!
Why are you creating unnecessary revolts to chase him out of government?
And I keep repeating the letter of Paul to the Roman Chapter 14 and it is very clear that he that God has appointed on His authority, he is there on the authority of God. No human being should attempt to pull him down because the curse will be on whoever does that.
The polity is increasingly charged under President Jonathan. Don’t you fear a people’s revolution?
I am appealing to Nigerians to be patient. The challenge is the same all over the globe but we can surmount it with patience and steadiness. When I see this woman from World Bank, Oby Ezekwesili, who comes here and be ranting about and doing all that, at the end of it I get very aggrieved because she now ends up and says, “I am not a politician.” Very insulting! I do not know what her background is but let her come and face some of us here who are politicians. I am not afraid to say I am a politician.
Let her leave her high office and go down to the people and appreciate that the very micro unit of her contribution is nothing. These are the jokers being promoted in the media. Elections are coming, let her come and follow us to go and canvass and face the people. Then, she will stop talking the way she is talking.
Do you know what I hate to hear? “I am not a politician!” As if politicians are evil minded people. It is our country; let them also come and join and make it well. Let her come and try and go through election to become senate president, vice president or whatever and convince Nigerians that she is better. Not gassing on the television or grandstanding, looking for cheap popularity.
We have gone on since 1999. This is 2013; 14 years of uninterrupted democracy. It has never happened in the history of this country. Whatever anybody can say, it is a record. Thanks to our party, the PDP. Thanks to the founding fathers of PDP who conceptualized this zonal set up, Turn-by-Turn Nigeria Limited because Nigeria is a country and not yet a nation. We are grapping, we are grouping, we are struggling to make it a nation.
What problem does your party have with some opposition parties coming together in APC?
APC is already an obsolete drug. Before they start they are finished. They say, “Hand over power to us.” But you are not yet tested. The little one we tested you on, you are an abysmal failure; an absolute failure. We saw what you were but you are now richer than the bank. More properties than the state. That is all they can show.
Let them come to television and debate it. How many children of the poor have they benefited? Jakande established his education for the poor people with scholar scheme for children of poor people to go to university. He founded the Lagos State University, LASU, also so that children of the poor could access university education at ease. You now pay a minimum of N250,000 per annum to access education in that same Lagos State University. That is a quarter of a million! The palm oil seller, roasted plantain seller, akara seller, can they afford that? So, you are saying that their children should never have the opportunity?
What these jokers are doing now is for the privileged so that only the privileged can get there. Fashola also knew how he started. Was his father a rich man? Today, he is governor. If they had made it impossible for him to go to school, would he have ended up being a governor? Let them just think because, if we do not, one day and I repeat one day, the electorate will decide. We do not want what happened in Egypt or in Tunisia here. We do not want any Arab spring here. No. Let there be peace.
More money seems to be going to all tiers of government, but sir, is there no way that the presidency can monitor the outflow?
What is the president’s business with the activities of the governor? It is the members of the state House of Assembly who can challenge the governor about his revenue, expenditure and what he is doing with the money. But we know that when the man sits down in one room and selects his surrogates who go to the House of Assembly, he does not allow people who are being sponsored, supported by their constituencies to go there. What do you expect?
Like what is happening in Lagos State where Bola Tinubu just hand picks people who go to the Lagos State House of Assembly and who therefore cannot challenge him when necessary? They do not even have congresses like we do in PDP. Tell me any day you have seen them doing a national convention. The emperor decides and that is the man who says he is a democrat.
The company which collects revenues on behalf of Lagos State Government, who owns it?
People who are in charge of highway managers, who are they? Even the agency that has the places where dead people are buried, who owns them? Now they are sand-filling the Bar Beach. Generations before them had Bar Beach. Go to what the Alpha Beach has become and see the environmental impact on those villages there. What madness! What greed!
Narrowing of channel
Look at Isale Eko here! That is the only channel that takes water from the whole of Lagos Island into the Lagoon blushed with that nonsense they are doing there. Go to Parkview, they are sand-filling so that they would narrow the channel until it would meet Lekki. That Lagoon is the natural gift that God gave Lagosians. They have narrowed it now out of senseless greed. Someday I pray that when the flood or earthquake will come, he must be held responsible.
Let Tinubu deny it. It is this man that now has the temerity to speak out of his mouth and say Jonathan is not doing well and so he wants to rule Nigeria. He? I would cease to be a Nigerian. I am not joking. I would go to Ghana or Togo and beg for citizenship because they would destroy this country. The good thing is that this nation is so massive for him to comprehend.
The dynamics of this nation; he says he is carrying Yoruba people to go and join Buhari and form a national government. They are joking because where we were in 1999 is where they just want to start from now. What a joke! What a joke!!
To what extent will the crisis in the NGF affect your party?
I have been away for sometime but my opinion is that, we need to lock ourselves behind a door and tell ourselves some serious bitter truth. I am now begging them to admit that all sides are wrong: the party and the governors. And it is not a blame game now. It is a game for the future of our nation. So, it is time to calm all nerves. Let us all come back so that we can have a family meeting. Of course you can see the oppositions are happy. They think they can use the situation to destroy our party. Which of them; any of those under ACN of Bola can talk to him?