Former Deputy National Chairman (South) of the Peoples Democratic Party, Chief Bode George, speaks with Newsmen on the 2019 Lagos governorship election.
What is your take on the belief that Lagos State is in the firm grip of an individual?
I have tried to resolve within my mind whether I was dreaming or in the realm of outer space. It is unbelievable. It is absolutely shambolic. When it started gradually, some of us were shouting. They said, ‘Don’t mind Bode. It is because he is in the opposition’. Now, the chickens have come home to roost. How can you, as an individual, determine the fate of the largest state economically in this country with the largest population? How did he do it? Did he use juju to slam our people? It’s a joke. You put this young man, (Governor Akinwunmi) Ambode, there and, suddenly, you say he isn’t going back. When I said it, people thought I was joking. During the First Republic, no politician had the authority to determine who should go to the toilet, who should be Speaker, or who should be this or that. Is it a private company? Lagosians should wake up. It is only the almighty God that we all depend on and look to; but for an individual? No!
The time has come that the right-thinking people, those who love this state, must come out. He has defied every definition of democracy. He is like an emperor. It is so disgraceful. This is my state; I was born here. I am in my mid-70s now and I have never seen anything like this. We were all young kids when Papa (Obafemi) Awolowo was running the Western Region. It was a collective responsibility. But now, it is the government of the emperor, for the people of the emperor and by the people of the emperor. I can’t believe it. And people are still jostling because the kind of money he has made within our state is disgraceful. This is a challenge also to the (Muhammadu Buhari) government in power. How can an individual be talking about corruption? You saw the salvos released by Ambode. Have they been investigated?
Who is the emperor you are talking about?
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, of course! He is the only emperor of Bourdillon. Look at what has been happening with Alphabeta. I said it almost 10 years ago; nobody listened. It is a fast track to destruction. I am praying that God almighty will work in the minds of the electorate. They have been a bit responsibly calm, but it’s getting to the precipice. What is the guarantee for the future of the children, the downtrodden? My father was a civil servant in the middle class, but we struggled; we went to the university. From his sweat, he built us up. Where is the civic education that will teach the up-and-coming children your duty as defined by civics to yourself, your people, your community and your government? This is not an autocratic (country). This is not Europe. It’s amazing. If we don’t do anything, the pages of history will be replete with a load of crap that ‘what were you doing when this was going on?’ They will ask us. Our children and grandchildren will be wondering that we said we were running a democratic government. How come? Someday, he will exit. Will he hand over to his wife or children, because Lagos is now a private property? You can see what happened in Eastern Europe, especially Russia. The communist system collapsed. (Romanian leader – Nicolae) Ceaușescu and his wife were murdered. People got fed up with all the other dictators in that area. I don’t want that in my state; I don’t want any more killings. But to have all the resources in this country in the hands of one individual is shambolic, unreliable and it is against all civilised norms.
I am appealing now. That power has come with the electorate to take a decision. He wants to impose this (Babajide) Sanwo-Olu. Tomorrow, if the Sanwo-Olu wants to start doing something else apart from what he wants based on the needs of the people, if it runs foul with him, he will then start plotting to throw him away. That was what he did with (former Governor Babatunde) Fashola. Now, Ambode came, he threw him out because he knows that he handpicked the members of the House of Assembly who would listen to his dictates. It would be a shame. I am calling on all Lagosians, indigenes and non-indigenes, to rise up to the occasion. Let us, for the umpteenth time, rise up and exercise our power. Otherwise, someday, people will get fed up and they will remember what I’m saying today.
What does this monopoly of power mean for the PDP in Lagos come 2019?
We are just waiting. We started our primaries yesterday (Thursday) and it’s been ongoing throughout the night. It’s been almost 30 hours now that we’ve been allowing the people the freewill to exercise their rights. Somebody will emerge today (Friday), either Deji Doherty or Jimi Agabje. They slept there. They had just started counting (the votes to decide) who would win. Once that candidate emerges, then we will now go and campaign to the people. He has the money to throw around — and for shameless people to start manipulating the Independent National Electoral Commission result sheets. Did you see what happened in Osun and Ekiti? I remember I was in secondary school, in Form Four or Form Five, during the 1963 crisis in the Western Region; an election where people manipulated the results. There was never peace. Now, that was the 20th century. This is 2018. Openly, you refused to allow the people’s will to prevail. Then what is your definition of democracy? Where is the will of the people? Where is the respect and honour of their choice? A few of you came together, led by (the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams) Oshiomhole and slam-dunked the entirety of the results.
I was ashamed of myself. The first Nigerian doctor, the first Nigerian lawyer, the first Nigerian architect, and the first Nigerian accountant all came from Yoruba land. The first African bishop also came from Yoruba land. You saw a professor; shamelessly, he couldn’t count the numbers. They asked the INEC man, (Osun Resident Electoral Commissioner, Segun) Agbaje, ‘What about the 4,000 votes that you said they would add at the end of the thing (collation)?’ and he said they forgot about it. He said, ‘If you don’t like the result, go to the tribunal.’ In the 21st century? He has a family; he has a name. It’s a shame on him and the rest of his family. His children will read that report and be ashamed. Look at the charade. Even the foreign observers stated that the election was the worst they’d ever seen. Isn’t that a disgrace? Are we moving forward or retrogressing? Every four years, the government must go and re-enact their mandate; go back to the people and ask, ‘Are you satisfied with the policies and the way we have done things?’ The result of the elections will tell you whether they (the electorate) are or they are not (satisfied). Then, if they vote you out, no problem! You can come back in another four years. What is four years in the life of a nation? It is nothing. With the two elections I saw, I am scared stiff.
Former Lagos Chairman of the PDP, Moshood Salvador, while defecting to the APC, declared Lagos a one-party state. Do you think his is a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’?
I don’t want to talk about him because he’s like my little aburo (junior). He grew up in my area; let me leave him to our Creator. But let me tell him — I know he’s a staunch Muslim and I’m a Christian — there are the 10 Commandments that the almighty God gave Moses on Mount Sinai. One of the commandments stated, ‘Thou shall not kill.’ And if you kill intentionally, you will be taken to trial; if not, the human trial, the spiritual trial is there. I think something is haunting him. I just told you now; he came from the Alliance for Democracy. He ran and joined us because of the shambolic process of the AD and the lack of democratic practice. The man managing the AD is still there. It was a golden opportunity for him to be in this party; we don’t have emperors in our party. It is always a collective responsibility. They honoured him by voting for him as chairman of the party until the mess he created because of his personal ambition and lack of depth. The (PDP) chairman of the Apapa Local Government Area, a committed, dedicated and loyal member, was murdered during his leadership and he was there. We are waiting. It’s a murder case. If he thinks that the human beings have been able to manipulate it and he’s still talking, it’s not over. Nobody has discharged and acquitted him. So, he should go and bury his head and start to have a restitution with his Creator by asking for forgiveness because, someday, he will pay for it. The most sensible thing for him to do is disappear from the political scene. I don’t want to talk so much about it because he’s infra dig in age, class and exposure. He is my like my little aburo but he misbehaved and it is not yet over. He should be very careful.
Are you on board with members of your party who have extended invitations to Ambode?
Why not? It is a political party; it is not a private company like Bola’s APC. A political party must have its doors open. All and sundry can join the party but the point is, you have the constitution. Let them abide by the tenets of the constitution of the party. If you’re a member, follow the laws. I’m not saying follow my laws. A proper political party is like a police station. They don’t shut their doors. Go to any police station at any time of the day, even at 3am; you will find one desk sergeant there. It is the same with political parties. You want to join? Come! If you’re not a saboteur, they will welcome you. And if you’re a saboteur, they treat you according to the laws of the party.
If Ambode wants to jump ship and come — but in my own tactical table, looking at it, he would be heading into some kind of suicide mission because they didn’t do the normal (primary) election, the way he should have emerged. He was a choice of the emperor, that is, Bola Tinubu. He’s in a quagmire. I pity him because, so far, out of the three governors that came from their party to rule Lagos, he is the only one that has shown a modicum of concern for the infrastructural development of Lagos and you can’t take that away from him.
So, you commend Ambode’s performance?
Yes! I said it before; he’s not in my party. If I see something that is good in you, I should not condemn everything. If you do well, it is for our state. You go to Epe, you’ll see all the infrastructural development all over the places. It’s for the benefit of the people of my state. It’s not for his own benefit. He’s not acquiring, building and buying all the local government secretariats and turning them into personalised skyscrapers. We must find out the details of Alphabeta. Who owns it? What are the functions? Are they working according to the constitution of this country to totally acquire the internally generated revenue board of the state on behalf of the state? Where is it done anywhere in the world?