Tinubu must tell Nigerians his background — Bode George

Chief Olabode George is a former deputy national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In this interview monitored on Arise Television in Lagos, the PDP chieftain speaks on the media war between the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council and some sections of the press and the crisis rocking the PDP, among other issues. Excerpts: 


What is your take on the recent attack on Arise News and ThisDay Newspapers by media handlers of the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu? 


I want to go a little bit into history; I remember very clearly the first publication of Concord Newspaper. That very morning, I remember Papa Obafemi Awolowo was going on his annual vacation and the screaming headline of that newspaper was the Dideolu episode in which it referred to the property in Ikoyi.


There was nothing that wasn’t stated but Papa Awolowo in his usual way… and if I could remember, that was the first time a leader of Yoruba extraction was being maligned publicly. That publication attracted a lot of comments and brickbats because it had never happened before. Who were those people that did that? It was Bayo Onanuga and Dele Alake because they were also working for Concord at that time.


I have also suffered from some of the irresponsible publications by Onanuga and Alake in the past. So, when I read the comments coming up, I just say to myself that the Almighty God works in a mysterious manner. What goes around must come around. Why are they complaining now? What other tactics are you using and your responsibility as media men, number one is to ensure that your facts are to the public.


Whether it is acceptable to the fellow involved or not is not your responsibility. It is for him to defend himself because the public must be educated. Anybody who is contesting for the number one position in the country or any elective office in this country or anywhere in the world, what you are saying is ‘please trust me, I have the capacity, I have the ability and I have the experience to manage your resources for the betterment of the people.’ So, nothing should be taken as a no-go area because people want to know who you are. They want to have trust because the public office is a public trust.


They must find out: Who is this character, what has he done before? You are asking me ‘please trust me and give you my vote’ but if I cannot tell and convince myself that you have the ability, the capacity and you are respectable and responsible enough to earn my vote, how else do I know if you are not talking to me? Those days of dark manipulations are over. We want people who will come to public office with commitment, loyalty and dedication to this nation. What is it that you guys have said or done that is now making them jump off their chairs?


They did that before; remember when I was leaving office as a military governor in Ondo State, they were firing me at all sides because they knew I was back in the system but I couldn’t make any comment. I remember the then head of state, General Ibrahim Babangida called and said Bode go to Chief Williams Chamber and sue these people because what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.


I don’t see what you have said that is wrong. Certain allegations were made, explain yourself to the public, so that they can be convinced that they can put their votes behind you. There are others who are also con-testing against you and once you decide that you want to get into public office, there is nothing hiding in your closet.


They must x-ray you from your head to your toe. Who are you? What have you done? And all the stories you told us have to be crosscheck, so that they know that in the next four years, they can entrust all the assets of our nation in your hands because they believe that you will do and handle them for their benefit and not for your own personal interest.


They said that the APC presidential candidate has been invited to come to several town hall meetings to speak to people, who they are courting their votes. Would you say that there is an issue with a presidential candidate speaking to people about his plans and intentions in a fair and equitable platform?


Once you present yourself for public office, it is a public trust. If there are certain dark areas about you, people have to speak their minds. There are times the media has fired back at us in my own party too. You have fired at one of the governors – Governor Nyesom Wike and you invited me, I came to clear the air and put the stories straight, so that the public would be convinced. If the people are not convinced, how do you want them to trust you because it is a matter of trust?


There is absolutely anything the media has done that is unacceptable. Onanuga and Alake are also media men and it is their responsibility to repackage themselves and answer the questions. If they can’t, they should bring their principal out to answer the questions by himself but using diversionary tactics and fence-off and pretending that it is a personal attack will not work. Personal attack for a man who is seeking public office; there is nothing like a personal attack. If you think that it is a personal attack, you have the judiciary to seek redress but the public need to know some things about you. The party members, APC and PDP as well as the others need to know.


Our mothers and fathers, who have the ability and the right to vote, they must be told. There are certain areas that are not clear to them, who are the people to ask the question and to explain to them if not the media? Why should you be afraid of the media? You also have your television station and you don’t know what to come to other television stations, you have to explain yourself to the people. So, I believe this is a tactic that is unacceptable. Something was said about you, explain yourself.


If you can’t take it now, in fact, when I read that if they win they will take off the Arise News license, I was shocked whether we are in the Stone Age. This is modern life. Even Putin, the Russian leader, and the media had on many occasions put on the spot. People must ask questions and we should move away from this attitude that Bola Tinubu is a special man and should be so treated.


What is your take on the issues of the education certificate and the character of the APC presidential candidate? 


Forget about me being a member of PDP; I’m a Nigerian and I’m closer to 80 years and I have a right to vote and I have only one vote. I have about three or four people trying to compete for my vote. I must be convinced which of them I can entrust my vote to manage the resources of our land for our own benefit.


You must tell us your background, you must tell us which schools you attended and your academic qualifications, so that we will know when you have problems, do you have the capacity to be able to understand the dynamics that are there. Do you have the financial knowledge of how to manage our affairs? What have you done before as a private person to convince us? Democracy is the government of the people, for the people and by the people and the will of the people must be respected. So, if you are hiding certain things they should know about you, how can you trust yourself ?


So, I want to appeal to Nigerians that the issues we are talking about; which school did you attend? Very simple; School A or School B. Did you do your school certificate, yes or no? What was your grade, who were your classmates and where have you worked before? These are pertinent and legitimate questions to ask.


If you are now saying why are you asking, it means you have something you are hiding. And this is not the time in this country to have such a person as a president because the ship of the state is drifting badly. We must get somebody who has the capacity, who has shown commitment, loyalty and dedication to this nation for us to pull away from the way we are drifting. As a captain, if your ship is drifting, you need the best captain to take you back to the harbour.


If Tinubu becomes the president, it will be said that he is your kinsman because you people are from the same place. So, tell us, who is this character? 


First of all, I’m an irredentist Lagosian, born, bred and schooled and have no regret whatsoever. Now, I know for real that Bola is not a Lagosian. You can quote me from here till the end of the world. I have been to his village and I have been to the school he attended. And there is somebody who is still a member of our party who was his junior in that school.


They confirmed it and if he says he grew up in Lagos, fine, which school did he attend? I grew up on 35 Evans Street in Lagos and that was my grandfather’s house and our family house. I went to the community school, St John’s School Aroloya. I was a very good footballer when I was young and that was how people knew me in my area. I played football at our local stadium and also at Campos Square. I’m proud to say it all over because I still have some classmates who are still alive. In actual fact, one of my classmates, a lady, sent me a text and said it is about 70 years ago this year that we started our primary school. That was my classmate and I was shocked.


Now, on the issue of my tribal or town’s man, I listened to Prof. Lumumba give a lecture recently when Bukola Saraki celebrated the 10th anniversary of his father’s death. He was emphatic because he is an intellectual giant and he reminded Nigerians and other Africans that if we continue to promote tribes, there will never be growth in this country because the way the Almighty God created us is so simple.


Nobody chose which family or tribe he was to be born into and as God gives the majority wisdom and knowledge, so do the minority people also have their own knowledge and wisdom. That was why our party divided Nigeria in a way that has worked. We have six geopolitical zones, and six top positions and every part of this country will go home with one of these positions. So, there is inclusivity which has been the challenge of our nation.


Do you see the possibility of reconciliation in the PDP between the Integrity Group of which you are a member and Atiku Abubakar and others?


As far as I’m concerned, our party can still resolve the problem because it is a problem that cannot be handled. All we are saying is for them to give unto Caesar those that belong to Caesar and give us what belongs to us, turn by turn Nigeria limited. For example, what we are complaining about is that the first national chairman of the party was late Solomon Lar from the North Central; the second national chairman, Barnabas Gemade from North Central; the third national chairman, Audu Ogbeh from North Central; the fourth national chairman, Ahmadu Ali from North Central and Kawu Baraje from Kwara is also North Central.


Now, you also have Iyorchia Ayu who is also from North Central. The South-West has never enjoyed this position since the party started over 25 years ago. What is our crime? If you are telling us that you want to rule this country, you must weave tribes and people together. That is the major problem and unless that is resolved, I will not vote for our own candidate. But let them make sure that inclusivity is not negotiable and that every Nigerian is important for this election.



(Daily Independent)




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