by Ismail Omipidan
Former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and an aspirant to the position of the national chairman, Chief Bode George, has said he has what it takes to lead the party.
If the Port-Harcourt convention had gone as planned, Jimi Agbaje would have emerged chairman. What has changed between the time you had the botched Port-Harcourt convention and now?
When we pray, we ask God to save us from calamity. When you hear ‘Olohun ma je ki a pade agbako’, it is a valid and potent prayer in my part of the country. So much has changed. We now have a second chance. Did you remember what happened to the ANPP at the Abuja convention, where Nwodo pulled out? That would have been what would have happened to the PDP if that what you are insinuating had happened. God saved us. Imposition is impunity. You can see the state of their party- the APC, I am yet to see their Board of Trustees members, no mid -term convention to appraise government’s policies. I don’t want us to end up like the ANPP, God will prevent it.
Talking about seeing Agbaje, I saw him recently. They came to my office for reconciliation meeting. The party advised that the meeting be held in my office, so they came, that was the first time I was seeing him after the botched convention. I reminded him (Agbaje) of the Lagos primary and how he was able to survive it. And the next thing he said was:’ Baba, you did not manage me well.’ And I told him ‘I should get Oja and tie you on my back and be dancing around because you are a baby.’ He can contest, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you sow, you will reap.
Human beings are just like a puff of breath; put them on the scale, no matter how big they are, they weigh nothing. The only being you can rely on is God.
At what point did the party decide that South-South should also have a go at it?
The South-East had it. South-South had it in acting capacity. At any rate, they just left the presidency and it was in the light of this that members at a meeting unanimously asked the South-West to produce the national chairman.
Last year, leaders from the three zones in the South met, to analyse the situation after the position was zoned to the south. And the very able, committed, dedicated and foundation member of the party, Dr. Peter Odili, got up to say from all analysis, it was the turn of the south-west to produce the national chairman of the party. And unanimously it was adopted. So that closes the chapter. So I will advice that we don’t open a fresh wound. Let the sleeping dog lie.
Leaders of our party must sit down and analyse the situation well. This is not the time to experiment. Lagos alone has 7.1 million registered voters. Is that a figure anyone who wants to go to the Villa will ignore? The journey to 2019 starts from the convention, we must elect a man who has the courage to face the lion in his den. I have done it before.
The President (Buhari) himself said it when leaders of all political parties visited him at the Villa recently. He said the country needs a vibrant opposition. Buhari knows that for this nation to survive, it needs a constructive not abusive opposition. Nation building is a work in progress.
As a party, we are at the crossroad, and if we turn the wrong way, we may not make it. God is a God of second chance. He has given us a second chance. It is a matter of life and death for the party. We must sit down and decide on who will manage the party to give a constructive and people oriented criticisms to the government in power.
We have short time, between our election and the next sets of elections in 2019. It has nothing to do with emotions and tribal sentiments. We have to get it dead right. We need a person who can weather the storm and face the battle ahead. To extract the seed inside palm kernel is not a joke, because when you apply the harmer, you have to watch your fingers. It is a major decision, not only for our party but for the country.
We need someone with a track record, someone who has been through the storm. We must avoid the pitfalls of the past. This is not the time for experimentation. Within the South-west, we have Ondo / Ekiti, one zone, Lagos/Ogun, one zone, Osun / Oyo, another zone. The current National Vice chairman of the party is from Ondo/Ekiti. It was zoned there because Lagos/Ogun, Osun/Oyo, have all served their terms in the past. So now, it is turn of Ogun/Lagos again.
We are fighting a party that is now a colossus. Politics is war by other means. So we must get it right if indeed we want to return to power in 2019. I want all those contesting to also let us debate before our members so we can tell them our plans and be able to convince them. That is democracy. As a party, thank God we did not get a technical knockout; we only got a bloody nose. But we must learn from our past mistakes. You don’t just join an organisation and suddenly you want to head the organisation, without requisite qualification, experience and knowledge. You don’t bring a bambino to go and manage the people. I don’t want us to end up like the ANPP.