Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Atona Oodua of Yorubaland, in this interview TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI speaks on crucial issues as they affect the country and latest developments in his party. Excerpts:
What informed the decision of your party, PDP to apologise to Nigeria in Abuja last week?
After the 2015 election which we lost, we, first of all, went into a spin, which is normal. We predicted that we will rule Nigeria for 60 years, but suddenly after 16 years in power, we were sent packing. So, we did an assessment of what happened. Where did we go wrong? Do we continue to pretend to ourselves that we were doing everything right? To me, what we did at the conference was the civilised way of approaching going back to power, not in arrogance. We accepted that there had been the problem of imposition, lack of respect for the party’s constitution, lack of respect for the feelings of the other person, manipulation and all those ills that are part of APC especially with Tinubu in Lagos state. Henry Ajomale had been chairman of APC since 1999-from the days of the AD to AC, to ACN and now APC. Perpetual state chairman! Where has the Congress ever been done? I have not seen any congress where Ajomale emerged. He must be a beautiful man that the party believes must be their perpetual chairman and he is not tired yet. You see, these are ills that are plaguing Third World Countries. I am sure that their constitution must have a constitutional limit. Two terms, end of the show. But in Tinubu’s APC, theirs is perpetual. The man cannot make a mistake and is higher than human beings. You see the fallacy. I think Tinubu got carried away and I am giving him a bell of caution. We in PDP said the same thing years back. Nigerians are no fools. The state of the affairs of this country today calls for Nigerians to dispassionately look at the two parties. When I saw our national chairman, Uche Secondus talking, I said whoever advised them to approach these problems we had like this is deadly serious. The Second I saw was humble, civil and he was thinking of the future. We knew where we were coming from. We were in power and only those who are humble will God continue to bless. For me, that was the catch and I said to him that you have talked the talk, let us go back and walk that talk. Let us go back to Nigerians and tell that we are ready to make amends for these problems that they listed which made them vote us out. God grants power, He gives to those He wants and those He doesn’t want, He takes from them. But I think it was a lesson for our party. We are going to regroup. We are staying back to repair that house that is leaking. I wish Tinubu best of luck on his 10th-year Colloquium but if that is the message that will come out from there, I think that is not a serious-minded talk. Today is Tinubu’s day of glory; let him be careful that there is an Almighty Being that gives and take. Don’t be so selflessly impudent and forget that there is a day of reckoning.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu at his 10th annual Colloquium said Nigerians should not accept the apology offered by your party. He also said PDP will never come back to power. What is your take on that?
First of all, let me ask Tinubu, is he, God? Or has he gotten the powers of God that he can see the future? I think that is a rubbish statement to make a leader. If that is what he thinks, I think it is a wishful thinking. He will soon realise that everything that has a beginning has an end, and that is the power of the Almighty, the One who was, who is and will forever be. There is no human being that lives perpetually. There are three things in life you don’t control -the day you were born, the tribe in which you were born(whether you are Chinese, African or American) and the day you will exit. That shows you there are a Being and power more than us. So, when people get up and make such statements that Tinubu made, that PDP will never come back to power, that is arrogance being exhibited. Let me advise him that we used to say that PDP will rule this country for 60 years. Then we sat back, put everything on auto-pilot and went to sleep. Alas, we found ourselves on the deck and that was why in humility, during the last conference held by the party in Abuja, the delivery, the content and performance was the zenith of humility.
They also claimed that they will continue to talk about corruption under the PDP government because the party looted the nation’s treasury in the last 16 years and battered the economy which APC is now recovering? What is your perspective on that?
Where is the investor in Nigeria? Ask any Nigerian today; are you better off now than when PDP was in government? That is the measure, the yardstick to know the difference between both parties. What I would have expected him to do is to close the doors and ask APC members serious questions about the state of the nation under their leadership. I know President Muhammadu Buhari was from my professional calling. That is what we do in the military. We do an in-depth analysis of where we are, where are we coming from and where do we want to go? At times, I look at the APC and said so they have never made any mistake? They are saying PDP is corrupt and they will continue to talk about the corruption. Who owns Alpha Beta Company that is screaming Lagos? There will be a day of reckoning, no matter how long that people will ask questions. So for me, that is not a proper approach. By the grace of God Almighty and the power of Nigerians, PDP will be ready before the end of 2018.