(THE INTERVIEW) Bode George: Tinubu became powerful after deceiving Afenifere founding fathers

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bode_george3Freedom Online brings you the first part of the interview with the Leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in South-West, Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George. Enjoy it.

The word progressive has been abused in the polity. Who really is a progressive?

A progressive is a man who looks at the past, the present and the future. He does not isolate the experiences of the past and the present from what are likely to happen in the future.

People use the words Conservatives or Progressives but there are a lot of complete misuse of the word Progressive in the political theatre of this country today. When Papa Awolowo used the word ‘Progressive’, we saw what he was doing. He identified the monumental problems his people were going through in the past, sat to analyse them and then programmed solutions to them. A Progressive is a very dynamic person, he is not static. Progressives will ask themselves, where were we, where are we and where do we want to go? Those are the three things that would make you conclude who a progressive is. But these jokers here who came up and told everybody that they are Progressives, it is a joke. They don’t even know where they are coming from and they are in the middle of nowhere. And projecting to the future, their own concept of problem solving is just ‘trial and error’. Like a fire brigade exercise. There is no single planning, nothing. Look at the Education sector, look at the Agric sector, look at the Infrastructure sector, look at Health, look at Commerce, what are they doing? Nothing. So, we had that concept in our own operations. That is the major problem that is ravaging us is this inter-personal relationships, which is also part of problems in politics. But that should not be bigger enough than the larger concept of managing ourselves and managing the resources for the betterment of the people.

ACN has consistently said PDP members are not Progressives. That the party is a nest of killers and its leaders have mismanaged the economy…

Let us look at them. First question I would ask is, the Constitution of this country allows Statutory Allocations every month. Was there a time that Statutory Allocations were not distributed according to the formula? Was there any state that did not get its own federal allocation? So, if you are saying PDP has not done whatever is supposed to be done in terms of managing the economy of this country, that is not true. What has the Action Congress of Nigeria done to complement the effort of the Federal Government? As you know, there are three tiers of government. The local government, the state government and the federal government. Local governments have their own inputs in the system. What have they done in Lagos, or in Ogun, or in Oyo? What you hear is that they are there, selected by the Emperor, and then they just go about doing whatever they want to do. I was told that once the allocation is made, the governor would sit down. They have another allocation for the local government, and they just give them whatever pittance they want to give them. The people have been shouting that they should now make it a law that the money should go directly to them. So, when you hear this propaganda from the ACN, it is their trade mark because what have they done in any state?

But the general belief is that ACN states are better than PDP-controlled states

Are their people better off? Are they happy? Compare them to the period when our own PDP governors were there in the South-West. In terms of infrastructure, road networks, our PDP governors did better in the South-West. Scholarships were given, tuition fees were paid to help the children of the poor. Unemployment was not this high. What are the ACN governors doing?

But their achievement is being celebrated everyday

To me, they just want to make noise. Let them give us a concrete evidence of what they have done. At least, as long as the Federal Government distributes the allocation every month, 40 per cent of its job is done to the people. The remaining is to make sure that they maintain the federal infrastructure, public health, all these teaching hospitals, and you can go around most of the federal government-owned teaching hospitals and their universities.

Are you saying Lagosians are not better off under ACN?

Look at the Lagos State University here, look at the school fees, skyrocketing from N25,000 to N250,000. How can the children of the poor benefit from education? Are they making available alternative ways, like giving tuition-free education, or scholarship for those who are brilliant enough? Being brilliant doesn’t mean your father must be a wealthy man. Are they making sure they are helping the downtrodden? No! Look at the agencies they set up. If it is not about arresting people senselessly, it would be about beating them up, seizing their wares, these petty traders. Look at the Okada people. You want to ban Okada from the roads, what is the alternative?

The explanation when it was banned was that many Lagosians were being killed because of the reckless nature of some of the operators. They were not banned completely but restricted to some places and the government promised to provide more BRT buses

The BRT nonsense that they are shouting about, where are those buses now? Who are the people managing them? Who is collecting the money? Look at the toll gate, people who live on this flank (Lekki and Ikoyi) of Lagos, look at the amount of money they are spending everyday, just to come out of their houses, as if they are in prison. Who is collecting this money? Okay, the state government built a bridge. The governor moved all the Lekki people and landed them in Ikoyi now with the senseless traffic on that narrow road there. What is the cost of that construction? Even Julius Berger, would they do that kind of construction in their country? Look at the Bar Beach. You want to extend the Atlantic Ocean. Go down to the Alpha Beach and see environmental disaster that has ravaged those villagers there. Greed, greed, greed. That is the centre piece of their operations.

If South-West was better under PDP than ACN, how come PDP has never won in Lagos since 1999?

Because Bola Tinubu has been manipulating, has been cheating, through INEC (Independent National Electoral Commission). Lagosians are now ready. And I am warning. Professor Jega (INEC Chairman) must make sure whatever our people vote is what they (INEC) would announce in 2015.

We cannot claim to be in the 21st century and be operating an electoral process that is in the primitive state. There is a ‘Salau’ who is at the INEC office in Lagos, heading a key department. Because we have been shouting, now they moved him from Headquarters, they sent him to Badagry. Is he not working for INEC? Professor Jega also made mention that all those who have served two terms in every state should move out of that state. This boy is still there. That is his (Tinubu’s) henchman. Right now, I am told, they are already piling up a lot of documentation in the IT department of INEC. We would examine all these things in the next set of elections so that we don’t have ‘Nigerian Spring’. If he (Tinubu) thinks he can continuously cheat our people, we will resist it this time. So, let Professor Jega get his men out. Do it the way it is done in America, in England, in Germany, in France. Same day they do elections. Why can’t we? We have the brains in this country. Even a three-year-old, four-year-old will sit behind a computer and is surfing. Why can’t we modernise our own process? Who is afraid of what? These are areas we must look into because people are fed up with the ACN policies in Lagos. Tinubu is taking everybody for a ride. I have been around, we hear what people tell us. Who is this chap? What is his name? Everything about him is a lie.

How come Tinubu is this powerful?

I don’t know. First of all, the founding fathers of Afenifere, he deceived them. They chose evil rather than chose the right man, the God-fearing man, Funso Williams. Since then, they have implanted this seed of madness in Lagos. Those of them who are still alive, can they see the mistake they made at that time? The seed has become a tree now because they encouraged it, they allowed it, they were lying. He has sent them all packing now, all of those Babas. And unfortunately, we are still finding the person who murdered Funso Williams. His blood will continuously, continuously be running after them. They (the then Afenifere leaders) brought him (Tinubu) up, they encouraged him. Does he have a semblance of Chief Awolowo? Even he couldn’t have been a messenger in Awolowo’s house. I have been shouting on top of the mountain, people are now listening. Look at the last local government elections in Lagos. Here in this local government (Ikoyi-Obalende Local Council Development Area). Now, he (Tinubu) has demolished its secretariat and acquired it.

We won the election here. You saw the LASIEC man, that retired Justice. What he said. Very disgraceful. We went to the first Tribunal. They looked at it, they said we won. He took us to the next one, the Appeal Tribunal. Look at what the judge said. That we filed our papers late. It is a pity. Are these the future leaders of this country? There would be a day of reckoning.

Why mention Tinubu everytime? Do you have anything against him?

Nothing personal but he has completely messed up the whole agencies in Lagos. I am told that he is the same person who is signing Certificates of Occupancy (C of O). He just selected Fashola as governor. It is a pity. I have advised Fashola, there is nothing Tinubu can do to him. He has a name, the Fashola name, to keep. Some day, there will be a day after this job. And he will face the people of Lagos. And they would perpetually harass the daylight out of him wherever he goes.

Fashola has no single commissioner appointed by him. There is no member of the House of Assembly that is his own. No single councillor. What is he doing as a politician? He is waiting for his master’s voice. Very disgraceful. The failure or success of a leader would be on the pages of history. People would ask him. He has a few more years to go, to redeem his name, to behave like a true Lagosian. And give credence to that family name in Isale Igangan. Otherwise, they would mess him up so bad, he won’t even be able to walk the streets thereafter. We (Lagosians) are looking, watching and waiting to recover our resources and we will take our resources back from Tinubu.

Are you saying the PDP is likely to retake the states in the South-West in the coming elections, starting from next year in Osun and Ekiti?

In this game, mistakes had been made. We have sat down to x-ray the mistakes we made. We are looking at all sides, let’s know where we went wrong and start to move from there. Yes, we made a lot of mistakes in terms of inter-personal relationships. People became overtly, overtly ambitious, running after positions rather than ensuring that the platform which has been built remains stable. So, in the course of those crises, we destabilised the platform. Not our concept, not our policies. And our people now have experienced this other party. These jokers. And they have come to the conclusion that these people have no semblance of Awolowo at all. They are neither progressives nor even conservatives. They are just interlopers. No plans, no policies, just ‘chop and chop’. Acquire as much as you can acquire and head out. But the Yoruba people have come a long way. We are so highly politically sophisticated that they know who is lying to them. There is no amount of newspaper, television propaganda that can cover their tracks. Because we can see. The rains are here now. Thank God there has been some kind of a break, so we can move around. Very soon, you will see that they are not doing anything.

Is the PDP not threatened by the coming of APC, a combination of General Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu?

You know, each time I hear of this union, I laugh. If you realise the way PDP started, it was as a result of opposition to General Abacha that brought the then conservatives with the progressives to merge. If you remember, Papa Ciroma, Ekwueme, even Chief Bola Ige, and some others came together. So, immediately it was announced that Abacha died, they metamorphosed into a political group. That was the first time that a genuine national party was established. That was the first time. And so, PDP didn’t come because we wanted power, like these jokers are doing. What is their concept? What are their norms? What culture do they have? Is it the way Tinubu has run the government of Lagos that he is taking to join up with Buhari? General Buhari, I know. To me, it is like water and oil mixing together. They cannot agree. They are still grappling now. What we started 14 years ago, that is the level in which they are now. What I usually ask people is, do you think Nigerians are ready for another experimentation that will lead to nowhere? It is an experimentation, this their coming together. It is like somebody coming to me, and saying ‘I am going to make a new babanriga dress for you’. I said ‘thank you’. I look at him, he has a tattered singlet on his body. Why don’t you go and make something for yourself first? What did they do in the 14 years that they have been here in Lagos? We can see all the highrise buildings that they have acquired. All the assets of the state government that they have acquired. Appropriated those things to themselves. Is that what he is bringing to the national table? How will the founding fathers of Lagos feel? Like General Mobolaji Johnson. Sometimes they invite him to an event and I tell him ‘egbon’ (General Johnson), why are you going to these people? All ‘your’ assets, all the things you built for us, with Alhaji Lateef Jakande have been appropriated. Did Jakande put a toll gate on Lekki Road? He (Tinubu and ACN government in Lagos) didn’t build a brand new road there, he just expanded it. And we are paying toll fees for the next 30 years. To say ‘thank you’ to him (Tinubu)? They gross almost N100 million every month, from that source alone. Now, he has also tolled this (Lekki-Ikoyi) bridge. Built by people’s money, and then he would be taking a percentage of it. Because he (Tinubu) has a concept of taking percentages. Even those who are sweeping Lagos, he is the one. He owns the company. Even his wife is the one who has the franchise to the burial ground. Even where we are going to be buried, Bola Tinubu’s wife is the owner of the place. What the hell is going on here?

Are you sure?

Yes. The nursing hostel has been acquired by Tinubu. We cannot produce nurses now in Lagos State. The General Hospital land in Lekki, they have converted it. What is going on? Lagosians should wake up. All those people pretending they don’t know what is happening, the people will ask them. Because they can link them to their family homes. How many people has he helped to come from doldrums to become somebody? In terms of free education, free health, a student in LASU must pay N250,000, that is a quarter of a million naira. From Mama Oni Boli (Roasted Plantain seller), where would she ever get that kind of money? Where? And then he (Bola Tinubu) said he went to talk at the British parliament. Which House of Commons? To say what? Talking about the headship of government, corruption?

But ACN members have said that PDP members and President Jonathan are corrupt, that they are still mismanaging the economy.

Let Tinubu remove the log in his eyes. President Jonathan is corrupt? Really? These ACN people talk nonsense after taking some drinks. They don’t know what they are saying.

To be sincere, has PDP really moved Nigeria forward since 1999?

Yes. One major achievement is the fact that we have sustained democracy for the last 14 years. It never happened. You know, democracy is now 14 years old. It is like we are still a teenager. We are still rumbling and tumbling. I just made mention of the issue of electoral process. If people know that what they say on the day of voting is what will come out, those leaders would be different.

But Asiwaju Tinubu is seen as a democrat. At least, he has consistently canvassed for ‘one man, one vote’

Tinubu has no respect or regard for the electorate. He doesn’t have any respect for them. Because he believes, whether the people vote for them or not, they would rig themselves to power. They would write results. But, that must change. We do not want to have a variant of the Arab Spring here. I am saying it now, loud and clear. Professor Jega has a role to play in this. He must ensure that he gets everything going. We must modernise our electoral process. Even kids now play with the computer. We must modernise. That is the only thing that would make the election of 2015 credible, acceptable worldwide. He (Jega) can help us. We can’t be an isolated nation. Ghana did the same thing. Small Ghana here. Why is it not possible here? Giving excuses, no power here, no power there.

The general belief is that election has been massively rigged in PDP controlled states and it is not like that in ACN states.

That is not true. Tinubu has started to load up now. They can question me. I am telling Jega now, Bola has gotten some of those boys in the IT unit in Lagos State INEC office. Is that the outcome we are going to wait for? We will not. If they don’t want crisis, let them come to equity with clean hands. Any attempt to rig in Lagos in 2015 will be resisted.

WATCH OUT FOR THE SECOND PART

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