CHIEF Olabode George does not mince words when it comes to national issues. George, a former Military Administrator of old Ondo State and former deputy national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in this interview, bares his mind on burning national issues ranging from matters around the embattled former national chairman of the party, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the ordeal of Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State and the face-off between the Presidency and the legislature. Excerpts:
Senator Sheriff has described the Edo governorship primary as illegal. What is your reaction?
My reaction to that is that first, as my friend is to appeal to him because I had known him even before I came into politics. I was much in the Navy when I knew him. That kind of statement portends two areas of concern for the party.
First of all, as a friend, I want to appeal to him that he should dance away from this political lunacy because there is a subsisting legal directive that he should not parade himself as chairman of the party. So, what other authority does he want? He should have respect for the rule of law.
Midwife and new born baby
There was a directive from a court that there should be no election into the office of chairman, secretary, and auditor. The party complied, and there was no election into those positions, but the convention, by our constitution has a right to set up a committee it deems fit.
So, legally, the Markafi committee is constitutionally established, and they have the right to manage the party until the next convention. Sheriff has ceased to be chairman of the party.
You cannot be the midwife and be the new born baby. He has ceased to perform any function; he is an ex-acting chairman of the party, and he should please go home. The implication of what he is doing, as politicians, we know that we have elections in two states this year. He wants to make it look like the PDP is in crisis so that INEC would not take from A or B and so, PDP will not have any candidate.
I want to plead with him because he is less than two years old in the party, he is yet to imbibe the culture and norm of our party. If his aim is to prevent PDP from having a candidate for the Edo and Ondo elections, Nigeria will not forgive him.
Let him remain on the path of honour, decency and go home. As far as I am concerned, by the constitution of the party, he is a former acting chairman of the party.
Is this crisis not preventing the PDP from playing the role of a vibrant opposition party?
What he does not understand is that PDP is not ANPP. PDP is a formidable grassroots political party, and we have an incredible resilience. Of course, it is affecting our focus because of the court injunctions; political parties are not run that way.
I want to say also that we should take part of the blame because when this judicial rascality came into the party, there is a section in the party’s constitution that forbids any individual from going to court without exhausting all the avenues within the party.
So, most of these people that are headed to court, creating unnecessary diversion, should have been fired according to the party’s law.
Everybody kept quiet because they didn’t want to offend anybody. So, if you don’t like heat, get out of the kitchen. This is a party that has rules and regulations which were conceived by the founding fathers. Yes, it is affecting us, but there is no problem in the PDP. Sheriff, who has just joined, should go home quietly.
There is this talk that the APC may have planted Sheriff in the PDP? What is your take on this?
I do not have concrete facts but if you look at the behavioural pattern, what would you conclude? They are all politics, and if you don’t put up the real story, rumours would start flying. Whether it is true or not, I am advising him not to be a cannon fodder. He should not be used by others, what would be his benefit? Is that his intention? To decimate the PDP?
He can’t achieve it! PDP is deep rooted with the people. Yes, we made our mistakes, we have learned our lessons and we are ready to present new managers for the party. We must convince Nigerians that we are ready to manage them again.
The Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose had his personal account frozen by the EFCC. There have been comments for and against this action. What is your position on this?
I am going to be like an elder here. Ayo is my son, the first time he came to be a governor; it was impressive. Two wrongs cannot make a right. I read a presentation by a lawyer on the matter and I also read the EFCC version of the accusation leveled against Ayo. My plea is this as a concerned Nigerian; we still have the rule of law and everybody must subject himself to the rule of law. The EFCC cannot do anything to him because of Section of 308. They should be patient because the law is no respecter of anybody.
I have gone through my own experiences; the law is still there. They want to fight him because they said Ayo made certain comments against the First Lady.
If it is proven that it is wrong, I know Ayo would be the first to jump up and apologise, but two wrongs cannot make a right.
The position of the EFCC was well stated in the newspaper but how many people would read that? So they should balance it. Everybody agrees that there should be anti-corruption crusade, but when you start to fling the sword in every direction, and only one side is being cut down, Nigerians would start to read meaning.
What is your reaction to the faceoff between the Senate and the presidency given assertions by the lawmakers that they are being taken for granted?
My take would be like a spectator because I am not directly involved. I think this is the time for some senior Nigerians, former presidents, and elders to get involved.
Leaders of the party
The government is a tripod if one leg is wobbling, then there is instability, if two legs are wobbling, then the instability is increased. Now, of course, the judiciary won’t talk even if they are aggrieved.
It does not matter whether it is party A or party B. Recently, the president had a meeting with the National Assembly people during his one year anniversary. I believe something should be done. If it were our government and our party, the Board of Trustees of our party would have waded in because that’s one of their functions. I don’t know whether they have a BoT or not, if they don’t have, they have elders.
When I listened to the language on the floor, I was a bit scared. Is it so bad? Where are the leaders of the party? If the Senate President and his deputy are being charged to court for alleged forgery, it gives me worry, and they should play it very gently.