Chief Olabode George is a former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The Atona Oodua of the Source in this interview with Temidayo Akinsuyi speaks on Saturday’s Presidential election, developments in Lagos and other issues.
The 2019 presidential election takes place this Saturday. What is your message to Nigerians?
I want to appeal both to the voters, the managers and the security agencies.
Our nation is at the crossroads. This election will decide the future of our country and the generations to come. Therefore, we must play the games according to the rules. Nigeria by the creation of Almighty God is a nation like a beacon on the hill.
It means that whatever happens in this nation ricochet all across Africa. It is a semblance of America and the rest of the world. If it goes well here, the rest of the world will be guaranteed that all will be well in Africa. We are no longer a dark continent.
It is just the mismanagement; the lack of respect for the rule of law. Those are the issues that are making us look as if we are in the Stone Age. In this elections, let us reflect civility and respect for the rule of law.
Let whatever we do be accredited as being done in any civilized world. We are no longer a pariah nation. The whole world is centered on what happens this Saturday. I pray that the Almighty God will make us prove that we are competent and civil enough to manage ourselves.
My final appeal to Nigerians is that on that day, it will be a day for this nation to come of age or to go down. Let the will of the people be respected.
For those who have been making inciting statements, what message do you have for them?
There are some people who have been making unsavory comments, saying foreign observers will go back to their countries in body bags. Is that not the peak of lunacy? Foreign observers are coming to monitor elections, and you, a senior public official said they will go back in body bags?
For a man that educated to be running riot is alarming. He should withdraw that statement and admit that it was a slip of the tongue. It is unacceptable, scandalous and absolutely sacrilegious.
Given the roles allegedly played by the security agencies in previous elections, especially the governorship elections in Ekiti and Osun, as a retired senior officer in the Nigerian Navy, what is your admonition to the security agencies?
They should remember that they took an oath to defend the lives and properties of the people of this country. They are not enemies of Nigeria. They are Nigerians and so it will be illogical and unreasonable to turn weapons against your fellow countrymen.
Those who are young now may not remember the crisis of 1963 in Western region when the elections were openly rigged. That little crisis which people dismissed that it was just within the Western region engulfed Nigeria into a civil war.
No nation goes into a civil war twice and survived. We love peace and sanity. We want good governance; we want an administration that will improve the economy, give jobs to the people; that will allow people to live anywhere they want without any encumbrances.
The days of these tribal madness and religious bigotry that people have been playing can no longer old. I am a Christian. My older sister got married to a Muslim. Today, she is an Alhaja but she is still my sister. Your religious beliefs are your religious beliefs.
It has nothing to do with your managerial skills. Setting one tribe against another is no longer acceptable in a civilised setting. To me, what should be paramount to Nigerians is the need to get the best man to manage our affairs. I am happy that the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar has spoken about restructuring.
That is a very good thing. We are not saying ‘take power from here to there’. I have been to all the nooks and crannies of this nation. There is no state that God has not endowed with something, be it mineral resources, agriculture or human.
So, they should go and develop all those resources for the benefit of the people. Centralizing everything in Abuja and saying life begins and stops there hasn’t worked and it will never worked.