PDP Was Manipulated Out Of Power, Why I Will Go Overseas + Tinubu Has Apologised To Me – Bode George

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Bode George in a new interview
with Eniola Akinkuotu of Punch has explained how PDP was manipulated out of power,
insisting they never lost but the elections were never free and fair. He also
spoke about his relationship with Bola Tinubu and how Tinubu begged him publicly.
He also stylishly mocked Tinubu saying, though he sees him as an enemy, he was
at his village Iragbiji in Osun State to campaign where he met his Oba and how
they showed him the primary school he attended. He also says he knows the man
Tinubu lived with when he was in Ibadan bla bla bla. It’s an interesting read.
Continue below…

In your clear assessment, what do you think led to the
defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party in the last elections?
The PDP was not defeated. We were
manipulated out and history will judge what I am saying. When (Chairman of the
Independent National Electoral Commission) Prof. Attahiru Jega came up with the
use of card readers and Permanent Voter Cards, technically, you would have
thought: ‘Thank God, we are in the 21st century, we have arrived.’ Take my
state, Lagos, for example, 5.9 million people were registered to vote but until
the week before the election which was fortunately postponed, we had 3.8
million PVCs delivered to Lagos. That means 2.1 million people were cut off. In
areas where there was insurgency, there was between 80 and 90 per cent
distribution rate. Most of Jega’s areas had no problems. Thank God Jega is a professor.
Let’s assume that he is teaching a 400-level class in a university. He teaches
Classes A, B and C. In Class A, he has completed the syllabus but in Class B,
he completed 60 per cent while in class C, he only completed 30 per cent of the
syllabus and they are all going to write the same examination. Is that
justifiable? Is that equitable? Thus, just looking at that, would he in his own
mind, be satisfied that he did a good job?
Remember he first had February 14
as the election day. We thank God it was shifted. Yet he attributed the shift
to the insurgency and the military wanting to operate. In his heart of hearts,
can he face his Creator and say what he did was fair? Technically, we must move
with the rest of the world but this manipulation was so vicious. I come from a
highly politically-inclined family. The late Herbert Macaulay was my mother’s
grandfather. Thus, we have always been politically vibrant in my family. I
remember the politics of the 1960s. I sat back after the elections and when I saw
the political setting, I concluded that after 50 years of independence and
meandering, we are back at the starting block where we were in 1960. What have
we achieved? The Northern Peoples Congress is now the All Progressives
Congress. The National Conference of Nigeria and the Cameroons is now the PDP
which was in control of the Eastern Region and the Western Region. We have come
full circle and we are back to the starting point. I love this nation but when
we look at how things are being done, there is no equity, justice or fairness.
I am praying we will alter the course and take the ship of state in a direction
where every Nigerian will be proud to commit themselves to the unity and
indivisibility of Nigeria. After an in-depth post-mortem analysis of this
election, we will know that we have taken a journey that has led to nowhere.
Are you saying the elections were not credible despite
President Goodluck Jonathan’s acceptance of defeat?
On the day of the presidential
election, at about 1pm, when the card readers were not working, suddenly Jega
said we should go manual. If you check the time it takes for a person to be
accredited and the initial 500 people per polling unit and later 750; you would
be shocked that over two million people were accredited in Kano within the
remaining time and they all voted. We must have been a more developed country
than America to pull that off. The result that came out of Kano was 1,903,999
and then I shuddered. If I have to go to a classroom to teach and analyse this
result, I would say there is no improvement at all and it took us straight back
to the 1960 setting. We are now back to the era whereby people vote based on
tribal sentiments. This was the kind of thing (former Head of State) Gen.
Yakubu Gowon wanted to stop and that was why he came up with the National Youth
Service Corps programme to put all of us in a melting pot so that a Nigerian
colour could emerge but we have not achieved that. Will this not haunt Jega? He
should go into the inner-most chamber of his house and beg God for forgiveness.
I am ready for a debate with him with facts and figures. There needs to be a
total overhaul of INEC because if not, it means one section of the country will
always determine who becomes President. Does that augur well for peace?
When President Goodluck Jonathan
conceded defeat, he said he knew the election was manipulated and that he was
not a coward but he had sworn that he would not allow any Nigerian to be killed
on his own watch; thus, he threw in the towel and wished Nigeria well. His
action doused a lot of tension.
There was heavy manipulation in
Lagos. Why would Ajegunle, Ajeromi/Ifelodun’s ballot papers be found in Kosofe
Local Government? Why would Kosofe’s ballot papers be found in Ojo Local
Government? Why were hoodlums snatching ballot papers and shooting into the
air? I have been calming frayed nerves because there is a graveyard silence in
Lagos and people are not happy about the results. I have said we should not
conflagrate Lagos. We must follow the example of the civility exercised by our
President, gather our information as humanly possible and head for the
tribunal.
But the South-East and the South-South gave the PDP almost
100 per cent votes. Your party also got millions of votes from Rivers and Delta
states.
Most of the states in those places
were originally PDP. The founding founders of our party were people who were of
diverse backgrounds: Alex Ekuweme, Bola Ige, Adamu Ciroma and Abubakar Rimi
came together with others to form the mega party that was Nigeria in all
ramifications.
It is on record that President
Jonathan got over N21bn the week he announced his intention to run. Lagos is
also said to have got the largest chunk of the money in the campaign chest. But
PDP leaders allegedly used the money to buy mansions for themselves instead of
campaigning for Jonathan. This was said to have led to your party being
outwitted by the APC. What is your response to this?
When we do a thorough post-mortem
analysis, you will get the details. Those who collected the money would have to
explain themselves. No kobo was sent here. I have also heard of complaints both
from the APC and the PDP. It shows you the level of poverty of the mind and of
the stomach. People think politics is all about self. The great orator, Cicero,
said we are not born for ourselves alone but for service. If all they know is
‘grab it’, how will the money last them? The Yoruba say money is for spending.
Those who stole the last time, where are they? I was inundated here with
complaints of people collecting money and fleeing. It was done by the APC and
the PDP. We will do an analysis and reappraise. Some people have disappeared
like a submarine. We will do analysis. People cannot be fully trusted but the
people given the resources will have to account for it.
Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd) has a reputation of being an
incorruptible person. Do you think he can clean up the system?
The new government hurriedly put
themselves together. They have no taproot; no culture. All they are after is
power. On May 29, they will have the power. When I listened to Gen. Buhari’s
economic postulation, I laughed. The world is in the 21st century. No one is
talking about establishing Nigerian Airways or automatically turning a naira
into a dollar. He said he would look into all the governors that have used
their state Houses of Assembly to approve stupendous benefits for themselves.
He said he would cancel it. But this is not a military government. My oga will
now know what it means to deal with a National Assembly and their
idiosyncrasies, state governors, political parties and their idiosyncrasies. I
know Buhari to be a man that does not want any stain on his public posture. But
when I was young, my mother used to say, ‘show me your friends and I will tell
you who you are.’ Let my oga show me his friends and I will tell him who he is.
Let him start to clean his own household because it is filthy.
I am from this state and I have
been involved in politics since 1998. Bola Tinubu and I have settled our
quarrel but facts are facts. Friendship is different. If I still see him, I
will tell him to his face. His acquisitive tendencies know no bounds. He
decided to bring (Akin) Ambode to manipulate the system and throw a lot of
funds around. Where is the growth in Lagos?
Are you saying Asiwaju Bola Tinubu can stop Buhari from
doing well?
Are they not in the same party?
Who calls himself the national leader of the party? If Tinubu says let’s go
South and Buhari says lets go East, what happens? You cannot have two captains
on a ship. I told you the APC has no taproot but it is just an experimental
party. I know Buhari will not want to contaminate himself but what of those who
have fast hands in the tillers? We are waiting for him to announce his cabinet.
Four years is a short time in the life of a nation. He is almost 73 and he
should fear nothing. All he needs to do is to leave a good name behind.
You once said if Tinubu finds his way into national
government, you will go on exile. Now that he has, when will you start packing
your bags?
There is nothing he can do to me.
I am not afraid of him and he knows that but I am now 70 and most of my
children are abroad. My little girl is also abroad. I will spend more time
there doing my memoirs because if I am here, I will be dealing with too many
things. The book will include my 16 years of politics in Lagos and my youthful
experiences.
You and Tinubu are believed to be archenemies but a member
of your party, Buruji Kashamu, has described him as a role model for Yoruba and
the architect of modern Nigeria. How do you see Tinubu now?
One little boy who just delved
into politics said I am a mole of Bola Tinubu. He must have woken on the wrong
side of his bed. Bola and I are not enemies; we are in two different parties
with different ideologies. His concept of operation is at variance with mine.
We are not enemies; we did not grow up together. I even went to his village in
Iragbiji to campaign for our party in Osun State. I met his Oba there and they
even showed me his primary school. One of his friends with whom he lived in
Ibadan was my classmate at the University of Lagos.
Initially, he thought I hated him
so much and convolutedly conspired to use a judge to put me in prison. Whatever
you sow, you will reap. The Supreme Court said the judgment was a conjecture
which means it never existed. They did not know they were helping me to go and
rediscover myself. Of course it was painful. We later met at the Adamasingba
Stadium Ibadan, at the burial of my good friend, Alao Arisekola. The Governor
of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, who is a younger brother of mine, sprang up and
said, ‘Why are you and Tinubu not greeting each other?’ and I said Bola is on a
different planet from mine. Oba Otudeko was also there and he said, ‘today at
the burial of our mutual friend, Arisekola, we should end our hostility’ and I
told them that he was involved in the conspiracy to lock me up. They called
Bola, he shook my hand and said he was sorry. It was in public. Since then, if
we meet in public, we greet each other but our concepts of politics are
different.
For me, there is no enmity, just
differences in political approaches. For me, democracy is about the people,
service and the majority of the people choosing who will lead them. His own
concept is imperial. He decides who should go to sleep and who gets what. Now,
there is Gen. Buhari. If I remember the kind of person he is and the Bourdillon
dictator, I wish them the best of luck.
There are still those who believe that if the PDP had
chosen Musiliu Obanikoro, it would have performed better at the polls because
he is a grass roots politician that would be able to face Tinubu. What is your
take?
Obanikoro face Bola Tinubu? When
people say such things, it baffles me. Let him (Obanikoro) come out openly and
say it. Without mincing words, whenever he needs something, he (Obanikoro)
comes here to prostrate but you see I am an irredentist of the truth. When I
know that you don’t have the qualities needed for a job and you are asking me
to support you, I will tell you the truth. So, he went out to say he was going
to campaign on his own and I wished him the best of luck. The people decided at
the primary because Jimi Agbaje was unique. The public wanted him and they
voted for him. It was not about Bode George. If I were a weak leader, Obanikoro
would have got away with all his shenanigans.
Why did the PDP play the ethnic card, pitting the Igbo
against the Yoruba after the Oba of Lagos made threats against the Igbo? This
is believed to have contributed to your party’s defeat.
That is arrant nonsense. I am
happy you asked this question. Before his statement, candidates had emerged and
we were getting ready for election. According to the way I was brought up in
Lagos, the centre of commerce, everyone is welcome. That is why Lagos is different
from every other city in Nigeria. If you come from anywhere, we accommodate you
because buying and selling was our business. Thus, leaders of the South-South
and Igbo came and said we should select some of their indigenes for the
National Assembly and House of Assembly elections. I told them we do not select
in the PDP except for where you have an advantage. For example, in Ojo, there
are many Igbos. In Ajegunle, Ajeromi/Ifelodun, it is a mixture of Igbo and
people from Delta. In Amuwo Odofin, there are a lot of Delta, Edo and Igbo
people.
As the leader of the party, I sat
down and asked my people, what is democracy? It is about representation. These
people live here, have properties here and pay their taxes here. If they win,
they will be representing their constituency that is made up of their own
ethnic group. Already, some of them were members of their local government
executive committees. They participated in the primaries and won and for the
first time in the history of this state, we have some Igbos who are
representing Lagos at the National Assembly. They are not representing the
South-East but their people in Lagos. Therefore, it was not a matter of us
playing the ethnic card. It was my friend, the kabiyesi, that was pitting the
Yoruba against the Igbo. When it is time for local government elections, it
would be foolish of us to go to Agege, where there is a large northern
population, and present a Yoruba man as our candidate. If you want to win, you
put their own person there. Lagos is the melting pot and we are showing the
rest of Nigeria the way. Tribalism must be buried and totally abandoned and
that was why I said we have returned to the 1960 pattern of ethnic voting.
For the first time, the Lagos PDP is on its own without
federal backing. How will you survive in the opposition?
We will survive through
dedication, loyalty, sincerity of purpose and absolute commitment. It is going
to be tough but this is when you will sieve the boys from the men.
The failure of your party nationally has been traced to the
defection of five governors, which President Jonathan did not handle properly.
With the benefit of hindsight, what lessons can you take from this?
I will not like to talk about my
personal views because we have not had our party post-mortem analysis. Who did
what, when and how should be an internal matter. I am a leader of the party and
I remain a full member of the caucus and a life member of the Board of Trustees
and National Executive Committee, hence, I will not wash our dirty linen in
public.
What will Jonathan be remembered for?
He will be remembered for a lot of
things, one of which is his meekness which is not a sign of weakness. Even at
the peak of power, he kept his cool and history will judge. He did not behave
like a bull in a China shop.
Your wife is the Director-General of the National Drug Law
Enforcement Agency. Will you allow her to continue with the Buhari
administration?

If Gen. Buhari asks her to
continue, I will not stop her. That is a very sensitive organisation and
requires absolute trust of those in government. We are not alone in the fight
against drugs. The Europeans and Americans are heavily involved in it. She is
brilliant and has gone through all the trainings. She is very competent. If
they want her to continue, it is fine but we have to look at those she will
work with. I know Gen. Buhari. I will not say more than that.

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