I’ll rather remain in my house than have Sheriff as PDP chairman— Bode George
By Dapo Akinrefon
Hours after the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt gave its decision to vest legitimacy to Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the party poured out his lamentations.
He spoke about the consequences of the ruling government decimating the opposition and his decision to stay back in his house. He also commented on the defection of six of the eight PDP members of the Lagos State House of Assembly to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
The Court of Appeal sitting in Port- Harcourt has delivered a judgment in the PDP crisis, pronouncing Senator Ali Modu Sheriff as the authentic chairman of PDP, what do you have to say on this?
I was shocked. To use the word shock is mild.
It is worse than being shocked. My immediate conclusion was haaa! This is the voice of Jacob and the hand of Esau asking that our National Convention be set aside.
My spirit has never been this low as it is today. Whither Nigeria, where do we go from here? A lot of people expected a vibrant opposition, now they have taken the opposition vibrancy to an appendage to the ruling party. I cry for our beloved country. I weep for my country. When President Buhari comes back, we would continue to pray for his good health, those who are masquerading and manipulating all these things should hands off and allow the system to run. Don’t kill the goose that has laid the golden egg of political activities in this country, don’t do that.
We must be full of prayers. For me as a Christian, I go on my knees, I pray to God. Every country experiences darker side once a while, the last day I can recall was the day Baba Awolowo was sent to prisons. He came back triumphantly, contributed his quota and I thought we would never be back to those days, but here we are again.
Out of the eight members lawmakers your party
has in the Lagos House of Assembly, six of them have defected to the APC. What is your reaction?
I am extremely disappointed in them. A Rolling Stone gathers no moss. Those who tried that in the past, where are they today? If you bite the fingers that fed you, you are heading straight to perfidy. Can the people they are going to join in that political party trust them? It was through our sweat, through our hard work that they got there. We sat down, we worked, spent time and money and resources to convince the people. What they have done now is that they have disappointed the constituencies that put them there. Would they have the nerves except they are shameless to go back to their constituencies? Did they consult them before they jumped ship? It is the most irresponsible behaviour ever.
It is shameful. Most of them are young, what would they want their names to be in the future? You got a mandate based on your constituencies, they decided the people to represent them and fight on their behalf, they have been there for almost two years but they decided without consulting their leaders at the constituencies and in the party before they jumped ship. Anybody who goes through a window into a house is called a thief.
But the lawmakers attributed their defection to the crisis in the party.
Which crisis? Now, there is no crisis because the court had given it to Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, let them stay where they are.
As a follow up to your lamentations about the state of the PDP, are you saying that the case of the PDP is beyond redemption?
I have grown in the party and I know the nooks and cranny of the party. I have worked so hard because I spent ten years as one of the managers of the party. We did our best building it up. It is a political colossus, it is not something you can wish away.
Any decision taken at the national convention is sacrosanct and it is only another convention that can change the decision of that convention.
Now the judiciary has said they change the decision for the party, I wish our nation the very best. We need prayers. During the 16 years of the PDP, we never went on that channel to decimate any political party. We never did. Rather, our approach was to use the powers of government to woo the hearts and minds of the people to the party.
That is what is done in a civilized world. But this is logic, what did we flout before you set it aside and gave it to Ali Modu Sheriff?
Was there an agreement among the factions that the Court of Appeal judgment should not be appealed?
I wish them the best of luck, I will never be part of that. One needs to be steadfast on his mind, flip floppers don’t achieve anything. That is not the concept for which those Babas who established this party set. If anybody wants to join, you know it is a voluntary thing. I will remain a public commentator, I will be vocal when there is the need for it and I will be objective. Now I am happy also that our Babas in the Afeniferes, you know there was a time Afenifere was associated with a political party. Now with good conscience and the situation in the country, they have decided that Afenifere will no longer have political wing, Afenifere will be a cultural voice of Oduduwa people as the ACF is in the north or Ohaneze in the South East .
I will be part of anything for the good of our society, but this ball that they are kicking like a tennis ball, today it is this, tomorrow it is that, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that it is heading into perfidy. I will never be part of it. Never!
Are you saying you are relinquishing the membership of your party?
I will sit in my house. You can still be a member and be watching and by the time it is settled, you will know where they are going.
But you can still go to the Supreme Court?
That will be the decision of those administering the party. You know even at the Supreme Court, Oga is there to take his full seat.
This year is critical for politics, because by the middle of this year, towards the last quarter, critical activities will start. No matter how small, it will start and if you don’t have a definitive direction it will be too late. You are running a 100 meter dash, some people have started running and then you are still on the starting block, can you meet them on the way? I am also a retired General, I don’t need to waste my time. I will take my back seat, the party will now meet and if they say they want to go to court, fine. You see very quickly now, the police will open the National party Secretariat for Sheriff to move in, when they do that, I wish the others best of luck.
We can see like I told you, this is not the first time , go back into history , the decimation of the Action Group, AG where did it lead Nigeria?
With the local government elections in Lagos near, what are the prospects for the PDP?
You know the sad thing there is this, we have a party that is with Makarfi and they are the bigger membership, we have the tiny strength who are members of the Sheriff camp, they will now say they are the authentic. If you see the communiqué issued in Ijebu Igbo, I saw some names state by state in South West , their own chairmen, they have one in Ogun, one in Lagos , Oyo, Osun, in Ekiti and they have in Ondo, that is the Sheriff Group, they will now go and conduct election, the court has recognized them. Unless the Supreme Court reverses the Appeal Court judgment and I can’t see that happen before the local government election. So wait for the result of the election, the bigger side now is being sidelined. Of course, you will find people who are professional political jobbers who served the moment, they are not committed to anything.