The leader of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos state, Chief Bode George speaks with Segun James on politics and his relationship with the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Senator Bola Tinubu
What is your relationship with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu? Why is everybody saying that the two of you are now working together?
To do what? We have nothing in common. Maybe there is a clone body that looks like me. To go and do what with APC? Is that a political party? I am sorry, ‘my Oga’ is their leader. However, we call Bola Tinubu the leader but we have a president. That doesn’t happen in our own party. The constitution we are running is tied to American the system. The leader of the Republican Party is the president of the United States. Tinubu is sitting on a chair that has a false seat.
I have always criticised the APC, that it is a political party with strange bedfellows. I come from a solid family in Lagos. My great grand uncle was a leading Nigerian politician, Baba Herbert Macaulay. He started a political party in the 1920s and kept on struggling, going from the north to the east and everywhere trying to pull Nigerians together against the colonial people.
I come from that stock. What I’m I looking for that will put Tinubu and I I’m the same corner? In which house? In fact we have never made any statement to have a meeting. They should come to let us save Nigeria. We have seen their style of management. We have seen the weakness in their management. We have seen the kind of attitude they have in a political party. It is not a private company.
That is why we are fighting now in our party so that we don’t drift to that kind of direction, where the party will now be held as a private enterprise.
Let’s follow the laws of the party. In our party, we cushioned up and once the governor says look this is the South west zone, of course he is no more the governor today, he is the leader. He is not saying to everybody today that he has the absolute power. He is the leader and if he can come and say, sir, please lets come down a little bit, correct the ills, ameliorate the pains created by the mistake made at the higher echelon. It is not my private company.
Sir you have not been active in the PDP in recent times. According to some people, since the so called rebels rebelled against you, you have not really done anything in the party and it seems you are very distant, so that makes the party in Lagos State kind of moribund?
Let me tell you what I have done. You know we are trying to sort out the mess they created. We took an action, went to court. They sent the governor to come and see me and I asked what is the problem? They came and said, ‘Sir please stop, we will try and see how to mend things up.’ We went to Ibadan, there was peace, we enjoyed ourselves, we did that and that. But you have forgotten that there is also this enemy that you cannot see physically, but it is ravaging the land.
The Coronavirus has overtaken every political issue and it is deadly. Only a foolish man now will want to break the government law to start going around for politics. That is why it looks like everybody is quiet, unless you have Madagascar drug and I don’t believe in African juju, let the vaccine be developed or ensure what the scientists are saying, social distancing, and wearing of mask and stay clear of crowd. I am a scientist.
That is what is causing the delay in any political activity. Where have you had any other political activity, even those in government in Lagos State. Every day you see the governor talking or the deputy. What they talk about is how they are going to solve this or how they are going to do testing. No single equipment is made here, they have to be imported, as we are asking for importation of the same equipment, so America is, everybody is heading to China.
So that is what is delaying everything, even, how many of you people are in the office now?
I came to the office today because of you, that is what should be. I pray that the vaccine should be quickly made and then you are sure of whatever else they will do to reduce the impact on human beings. They did for AIDS, they still haven’t found a vaccine for AIDS but they have been able to control it. it is an epidemic and it is becoming a pandemic. The British Prime Minister caught the virus, and I have a lot of respect for the British people, the same in America.
Look at France, look at Putin, this is not nuclear warfare. His spokesman is in the hospital, Prime Minister in the hospital, himself is hiding in a bunker now. How many times have you seen our Oga going everywhere? So give us time but definitely, to stir the course for me even on my death bed. We are not enemies, what is the major difference is the style of management, the concept of the way we see political activities and political management and policies. We are not on the same platform, we are not enemies, if he comes and changes his style to be on our own pathway, it is not my private company, those are the laws of our own party. If he decides that he wants to obey the laws and give respect to each other, not like where people will come, so I am not looking for anything.
What we are hearing from the APC side is that the PDP is dead in Lagos. What is your take on this Sir?
First of all I think that is what they are praying for in their mind. You know those who are card carrying members of political parties are less than those who are not members of any political party. And they are the ones wanting to decide for the House of Representatives, state house of assembly, governorship elections, presidential and all that, they would decide.
Now, we have seen the management style of the opposition party, the party in government, compared with ours. They will decide on that day, by another two years now, we will start getting back to the political election. Yes, there is no association anywhere in the world that you will not have one friction or the other. Even you alone as a human being, you will have problems either with yourself or with some physical part of your body or something. That is the way life is. There is no free highway in life.
Yes, PDP has friction but it is not to the extent of devastation.
It is not to the extent of a collapse of the party. The party is still there, those internal friction happened because it is artificial and based on human greed and human ambition, so it can be managed. Because you see when you have people, you congregate yourselves, you form a political party, you have your constitution. The constitution is the grand norm that everybody must abide by. You don’t start to work or treat people outside the constitution, it is the guideline. You have the laws there and are made to guide us in our daily interaction in decision making and if you feel so bad about any particular section, you wait till the convention time to change things. Once they are sealed at convention, you must obey the laws.
But because democracy is just growing in our country some people see political appointment as an absolute power, that they can do and undo, they can put anybody anywhere without following the due process. It doesn’t help, it becomes absolute lawlessness. And if you do anything outside the constitution no matter who you are, even National Chairman you will be brought to book. If you don’t want a constitution then make it a jungle and everybody can do what they want. So I am trying to itemize the issues that lead to friction, they are not fundamentals.
They are personal ambition, lack of commitment to the growth of the party and total interest in commitment to that for that organisation. If you don’t like the heat, please get out of the kitchen. You find some people they roll from one party to the other, in the end, you find out that where there is organisation, where there are laws, they are much better than the ones that they are in the private company of some people.
PDP is not like that. Some of us will fight to the bitter end to make sure that nobody can pocket this party. The founding fathers laid down their souls and commitment to setup for the first time a national party and in doing so there were certain fundamentals they agreed upon, how to manage this massive complex called Nigeria. I read their concept, modus operandi and I see it is reasonable and is good, that this will assist Nigeria. And no matter what anybody says, it was that concept of operation that saved Nigeria from total collapse.
It saved democracy and made sure that democracy has been sustained continuously on unbroken civilian administration for 20 years. With respect to the minority and the majority, both in the north and in the south. In a restructured Nigeria, in a manner that they will give everybody that sense of oneness. You have majority in the north and minority in the north, majority in the south and minority in the south.
There are six regions, you have three zones in the north and three zones in the south, and then they brought in this concept of rotation. The British in their wisdom conceptualised our country in their own horizon of the United Kingdom. They have been in existence for over 300 years. About a few years ago the United Kingdom started to crack up, when Margret Thatcher and other peoples saw the political tornado coming, they now came up with a concept called devolution.
In United Kingdom now you have Scotland with their governance, you have Wales with their governance and Northern Island and of course England doesn’t have a separate parliament but all those people who have devolved are still members of the federal government that still manages them. But they have devolved powers, having existed for over 300 years. So what I am trying to do, is that at that time, it was a concept, there is no fixation about it.
When the British left, the military came in and the only management they understand is top to bottom. Once the boss gives an order, you obey. But in a democratic setting the power is at the base. When they elect you to represent them, they are telling you to go and manage the resource of A, B, C, D for the benefit of us. There is no super leader there, you must be a servant leader because you are elected. The military setting is completely one hierarchy down to the bottom, you are to listen to the order. What the British left here, this regional thing, that worked, everybody developed according to their wealth, the capacity and there is no part of Nigeria that God has not endowed with one resource or the other.
So having grown to that level, in the end, the military intervention in 1966 threw the system overboard and replaced it with a military style of management. And since that time, what is the need for somebody to sit in Abuja and be concerned with my own local government here or with one local government in Maiduguri or Sokoto, or with a local government in Calabar? What is their business? That is still the military concept they are running. Let us devolve power back to the states because they have created states now and the creation of states was to also address the issue of minorities.
If you look at it, the northern regional government, the minorities are to be seen and not heard. The same here in the south the minorities are to be seen and not heard. Because we created more states so that you can give them some sense of belonging, that is how we created all those things. Now we have created states, we can’t go back to the regions. Tell an Ekiti man that he is going to go back to Ondo or tell an Ogun man that you are going back to Ibara, what will emerge in Nigeria will be a record of violence. So rather than say go back to regional government, let us devolve power to the states.
We now copied the American system, presidential system of government. Now, that presidential system of governance in America, yes the seat of power has Mr President in Washington, all the states have governors. They also have their councils which they call counties. They have county police with a Sheriff, they have state police, they have the national police which is the FBI for effective control of internal disorder. The federal is still there, they still send some money, depending on your earnings to help the federal for financial input. Then there are certain resources that only the federal controls.
If there is disaster like tornado, flooding, fire and the like, the national can help. It is not like ours, they don’t wait and say every month they will come and sit down there, all your oil resources will go to one center then they redistribute. They create an imbalance of the number of local government, this thing is not working. We are not a military command setup. I went into all these to give you a sense of how those founding fathers of our party came up and said that never again will there be a military intervention or a disorder based on poor political management. That is why it is so important that those who will manage the PDP must have this at the back of their mind.
They didn’t take care of personal ambition, it cannot be there otherwise you will be like a one million page constitution. So, occasionally you will see people misbehave, that misbehaviour is not in the constitution. Thank God, there are courts for adjudication. The courts look at our constitution and say this is what this person did, do they have a right? The only organ that has absolute control, that can go against even the constitution is the national convention.
Next to the national convention, is the National Executive Committee. Those in the National Working Committee are those oiling the system on a daily basis to make sure that there is no vacuum. What happened in Lagos State was an anomaly. I worked for 10 years at the national secretariat of the party, I know this constitution like the back of my hands.
They saw that what they did was outside the party constitution, that was the friction. We said no, you cannot go on like that, there is nothing personal about it. If you keep on doing this you will crack the party from top to bottom. Once a house is divided, it will surely be defeated. Our governor in Oyo state who is the leader in the South west intervened. He first all probed what was going on. He came with Fayose, and the Vice Chairman and other members and the secretary of the zone. I was the first elected Vice Chairman of the South west zone.
Some of us will fight to the bitter end to make sure that nobody can pocket this party. The founding fathers laid down their souls and commitment to setup for the first time a national party and in doing so there were certain fundamentals they agreed upon, how to manage this massive complex called Nigeria. I read their concept, modus operandi and I see it is reasonable and is good, that this will assist Nigeria. And no matter what anybody says, it was that concept of operation that saved Nigeria from total collapse. It saved democracy and made sure that democracy has been sustained continuously on unbroken civilian administration for 20 years