Chief Bode George is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former military administrator of Ondo State. In this interview, he spoke on his 2023 presidential ambition, need for constitutional amendment, security challenges and the push for electoral reforms among other burning issues.
You were away recently when there were reports of some groups and loyalists calling on you to contest the 2023 presidential election. Are you truly interested in the race?
To be assertive and to confirm, I am very much interested in the race – but you know on condition precedent like the lawyer will tell you. First, the platform which we call our country is wobbling very badly. We have to do something to stabilise that platform that is one. Two, you know in my party, we believe in zoning and the eight years of North will end with General Muhammadu Buhari (retired) and ideally, it should come back to south. I think some groups have started talking that the north should have the chairmanship of the party so that presidency can come. I don’t want to join the discussion now. Let us all forget about politics now.
Our country is like a pariah state now. Nobody wants us. American government is warning us, the European Union is warning us. The killing is getting very, very terrible. This gives every right thinking Nigerian a cause for concern. Why? What is going on? You see those are hurdles we must get over to think of 2023.
Ideally, once a government has a four-year operation, politics would start at the end of the third year. Maybe some people think we should start it now so that they can divert the attention of Nigeria. There is hunger in the land, massive unemployment and the way we are doing it is like we are completely satisfied and happy. You see hunger on the faces of people whether you are a rich man, a middle class man. It is even worse in the base of the pyramid. I just keep praying that we would not break up. I am scared of this orgy of killings in the land.
Where do you think the solution lies?
My suggestion as a Nigerian, I am not talking as a party man now. The president and I want him to see me as the principal staff officer, like way back in our traditional job, military, because your staff officer cannot write memo that would implicate you. Oga (President Buhari) must as a matter of urgency call a meeting of elders in this country. The elders in the South-West, South-East, South-South, North-West, North-East and the North-Central. They know those who are elders there.
To discuss what?
The system of government is not working. And it is a military constitution. You remember when General Abdulsalami Abubakar was leaving, they were the ones that wrote the constitution; everybody was eager to get out. We all wanted to get democracy. The military with some people got together to write it and gave it to us.
What about the problem of Boko Haram?
Another problem is this Boko Haram and the carnage that is sweeping across Nigeria. As a military officer, the Boko Haram is not a conventional warfare. When you go to war, you know who the enemy is. But that one is unconventional because you don’t know who your enemy is. When they come out, they look alike, they speak the same language, they wear the same dresses. You don’t know who they are. This war is now about 10 years.
Are you suggesting a dialogue with the Boko Haram leadership?
Let a third mediator either the African Union (AU) or the United Nations (UN) get involved and call them to discussion. Let them tell us what’s their grouse? What do they want? If it has happened in Afghanistan. Talibans and the Americans are discussing. And President Donald Trump is planning a meeting with the leaders of Taliban, the final analysis is not on the field.
You said you are the only person who can defeat Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the APC National Leader, who is strongly believed to be nursing the presidential ambition. How feasible is that?
The moment I read that the APC will zone the Presidency to the South-West so that Bola can contest, my colleagues and my friends were also talking, they said, “Bola (Tinubu) to contest for this country’s topmost position”. I said, “I have put in far more and I would contest against him.” Why? Because we all experienced what he did as a manager of this state. Who is proud of that? Now, with this same constitution, you would now put him as the number one man in this country. Whatever it takes, if he comes out, I’ll fight against him.
Do you have anything against him?
There is nothing personal. It is just about his methodology, his system of governance, the lack of respect for the poor people of this country.
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