During a recent interview with PUNCH, the leader of the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, Chief Bode George, speaks about the just concluded elections and other national issues…
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.