Former Deputy National Chairman (South), PDP, Chief Olabode George, recently spoke with select journalists on a number of national issues, including the proposed mega-party, the anti-corruption campaign of the ruling APC, as well as the preparation of his party for the 2019 contest. MUYIWA OYINLOLA was there for LEADERSHIP.
What is your assessment of the anti-corruption crusade of the present administration?
You know there is a saying that those who come to equity must come with clean hands. I am yet to see anybody, in their party and — I stand to be corrected–who has been arraigned despite all the allegations that are flying all over the place. I don’t want to mention their names.
So, holistically, there is need to spread the dragnet. Listening to Senator Sheu Sani on the floor of the Senate, he said it all. He was talking about deodorant for those who are in the APC and then insecticide for those accused of corruption, but are outside the party. Do I need to say more?
That’s a member of the party who made that kind of comment. I know Mr. President to be a no-nonsense person, but let him spread it.
Charity begins at home, that would be more convincing. The job that Ibrahim Magu is doing is fine, but let them spread it. Let us go the whole hog. You don’t need to be a rocket scientists to know that this is totally one sided.
Don’t let me mention names, because most of them too are in our party before they ended there. But like you said, holistically, take all those that have been hounded, they are PDP, all the other people in APC are saints.
So, how that has gone to convince the hearts and minds of Nigerians will be tested when we start preparing for 2019.
My appeal now as a Christian, Romans chapter 13, Saint Paul the
Apostle said, pray for your leaders because nobody gets the throne without the anointment of God Almighty. Pray for them, so that decisions they will make will not destroy the kingdom. But what is God, we give to God. That’s my modus operandi; we pray for them.
Now the political analysis, pre -2019 will start from the last quarter of this year. That’s when we will be able to x-ray—we go into details, we go into analysis of what is happening.
Still on the anti-corruption. The argument of spokesperson of theruling party and presidential spokesperson have always been that it isn’t as if PDP members are being hounded, but the fact remains that it was the immediate past ruling party. That Nigerians should expect its members to be the ones to be summoned to answer questions.
Did we have governors in all the 36 states of the federation? Most of those governors. Take my zone, Lagos is the next richest to the federal government. In terms of revenue generation, it is the nerve centre for the whole of West Africa it can survive on its own and why? Because Lagos is the melting pot of this country; there is no tribe in Nigeria that doesn’t reside in Lagos, that’s the grace and they are there making money, it is the largest trading point in West Africa. So, that’s the grace which Lagos government has. It isn’t a poor state and to add it on now we are now an oil producing state— 13 percent derivation must start to come from there.
We have 6.5 million voters in Lagos state alone; that’s a substantial electoral number although Professor Jega cheated us in the last election, he gave us only 3 million Permanent Voters’ Cards, (PVC) instead of 6.5m.
So, when you look at it, it is a matter of governors, governors, what about the others who weren’t members of PDP? None has been arraigned.
Talking about 2019, your party is still enmeshed in leadership tussle.
What’s the way forward?
Not in leadership tussle.
So, who is the chairman of the party?
As far as I am concerned, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, the caretaker committee chairman is in charge. I am not a lawyer, but we the elders of the party we elected him as caretaker committee chairman and we followed all the due processes.
You see, the moment Senator Sheriff was to complete Adamu Muazu terms, so we held a final meeting of NEC, preparatory to the convention.
At that time, we were preparing for an elective convention. If he said he was going to contest, he has ceased to be national chairman. Because you can’t be the judge in your own case.
So as far as the party’s constitution is concerned, the norms and culture of the party, he has flagged on the convention and he has ceased to be chairman. He appointed the convention committees. Remember we had two conventions: the first one was aborted in May, it was at that convention that a decision was taken. If you recall, he walked out because people said you cannot say you wanted to contest and still parade yourself as chairman of the convention! That’s alien, because he just come into the party. He hasn’t internalized the culture and norms of the PDP. Would they have accepted that in his own ANPP or APC?
Having done that, that convention ended up in chaos. It was at that point and whatever is decided at the convention is like a supreme court judgment. So, because of the chaotic thing we realized that he was about to create confusion, because if we had accepted that the presidential candidate must now come from the North, automatically there is need to do re-zoning, to bring the chairman of the party back to south. So, we now said, in the meantime, who will manage the party.
That’s how Makarfi was endorsed.Sheriff is also my friend but whatever is just is what I will follow.I told him in private, I told him everywhere. So, legally by our constitution, he has ceased to be chairman, because it was the convention that now approved the caretaker to go there and manage for the short run from that time of the first convention.
Makarfi now came to prepare for another convention in August and that was how Sheriff now came, went to court and was pulling weight all over the place and we now went there, the zoning has been done and Makarfi wasn’t contesting and we landed in Port Harcourt .
Justice Abang gave judgment and another judge in Port Harcourt gave his own and the convention was aborted.
But to me, it was divine intervention because some people had hijacked the party, thinking that they can do and undo and the rest said no; that it is a collective responsibility, that PDP isn’t a private company. It was at that convention again, that we decided that Makarfi team must continue for another one year to go and settle all the frayed nerves. From that point, the convention mandated Makarfi to continue. Sheriff now proclaimed himself as authentic chairman. How are you the authentic chairman?
But Sheriff also has court judgments which accorded him recognition just like Makarfi and the argument has always been why is it difficult to have a political solution? For how long must you continue with court litigations?
Good. An attempt was made. If everybody came there with the same mindset: that this is our party and we want it to survive and not such subterranean maneuvers, some covert activities, why can’t we sit down.
The elders met, from board of trustees, set up committee to meet Sheriff group and Makarfi to settle whatever differences in the interest of PDP.
We agreed that each faction should nominate members for the peace committee, but the Sheriff team never showed up! Is that a sign of somebody who is interested in the party?
If they didn’t come, we cannot force them. Then they went to get their judgment from Abang.
Things that weren’t even placed before Justice Abang, he granted.
He granted some of the prayers from his mind. That was when some of us started saying, wait a minute: what is going on? We shouted to the judiciary, save democracy. The prayers that weren’t before Justice Abang, he granted. He is still in the judiciary today.
But now we made an appeal and there is another appeal in Port Harcourt on Sheriff and they said they have adjourned sine die.
I don’t want to guess, I will just say that some people are pulling the strings somewhere.
Are you insinuating that external forces are stoking the fire in PDP?
Are you alleging that the ruling party is behind all these?
I don’t want to mention names. In my own part of the world, you explain issues in parables and everybody will go home with a special understanding.
I don’t know, because if they ask me to come and put the facts, I don’t have any fact.But there are members of the party who insist that the problem is self inflicted, that the governors created it.
Yes, governors Fayose and Wike brought him and they have seen the extent of their mistakes. They have been saying the young people should own the party and the old people like us should get away but if you say, throw all the elders away you are saying, there is no history of the party.
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