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Nigeria’s Democracy is too military in structure – Chief Bode George

By Obire Onakemu
04 March 2023   |   3:45 am
Former Deputy National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George says survival of Democracy in Nigeria rests on justice, fairness and equity in everything that we do

Chief Bode-George

Former Deputy National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, in this interview with OBIRE ONAKEMU, says survival of Democracy in Nigeria rests on justice, fairness and equity in everything that we do; being able to tell truth to power and being able to bring to book anybody that runs out of the defined line in any election. EXCERPTS:

Do you agree that there is need for a total overhaul of the current structure of governance in the country?
Absolutely! What we are running is not in the interest of anybody in this country. The structure is so military in its set-up of the Constitution. We have the apex, everything and all resources will be sent first to Abuja. No! Let every state have the control of their resources.

They will pay a certain percentage to sustain the military, the internal affairs, the police, the external factors and external affairs. But as for day-to-day running, how do you impact positively on the mind of your indigenes in their various states? That should be the responsibility of that government there.

If the people are not happy with that government, in the next election, they will show them the way out. But right now, everybody is looking and saying everything is coming from Abuja. They say everything goes to Abuja. Lagos to Abuja, Sokoto to Abuja, Borno to Abuja, all too far a distance. We must devolve power to the state.

As for security outfits, we must have the national police, which is equivalent to NBIC. But the state police must be a must to guarantee security of life and property. For us to be running to Abuja every 30 days based on some criteria that are no longer useful is very disconcerting and we must stop it.

The reports of the 2014 constitutional conference is there. All these things we went through. Let them dust it up and read it. It is there. We are not reinventing the wheel. People spent almost six months coming together doing a lot of political analysis, a lot of analogies to come to that decision and those volumes are there. So, one doesn’t need to re-invent the wheel, take it up, update it and execute it.

What is your general assessment of governance of the country?
The insecurity in the land is number one responsibility of the government to tackle. Everybody is crying now. I have seen a lot of my friends from the North who have been here crying about the insecurity. Nobody is safe! The Boko Haram is still on rampage and everybody is complaining.

Our teaming unemployed graduates all over the country, what are you doing with them? Every part of this country has a pool of human resources. When l graduated about 52 to 53 years ago, we were eight in my graduating class. Every one of us had our employment ready.

All we needed to do was to write the final exams from the same University of Lagos, to just conclude your final paper and then you have a job waiting for you. Do you mean we cannot create that? Where is that Giant of Africa? I have traversed the length and breadth of Nigeria – from Sokoto to Calabar, from Lagos to Borno, from Jigawa to Delta.

In fact, there is no part of this nation that I have not visited and there is no part of this country God has not endowed with one resource or the other. Let’s go back and tap into those resources. In a Political Science class, they would describe and define governance as the management of the resources of the land for the benefit of the people.

So, for me, Nigeria as a giant is very much asleep and we must wake her up. Even in terms of going for international conference, G-20, nobody invites us again. So, what has happened to Nigeria as Giant of Africa? A little country like Rwanda is being invited.

And there is no known field of endeavour that you wouldn’t find one Nigeria as an expert. What is wrong? Can I tell you what I think is wrong? One, the system of government we are running is very defective. It is too military in structure. We have in the apex the big Commander-in-Chief and it then goes down.

Perhaps democracy derives power from the base of the pyramid – from the people over there. There must be devolution of power, give power to the states because the states are closer to the people than Abuja. Abuja would remain there. It is so open now that there must be local community police for effective control at that level.

We would still have national police like they have in America. We must have counter police otherwise we are deceiving ourselves.

Do you see corruption level increasing or decreasing under Buhari?
Corruption has gone beyond human comprehension. Everywhere you turn, it is there. If you go to your local mechanics, they would cheat you, if you go to the local market, they are not left out.

It has become a national phenomenon. And my fear is that when I was young, we were taught series in education – the dos and don’ts of a civilised human being. Now, who teaches series in school? What is normal, what is abnormal, what you should do, what you shouldn’t do to your neighbour. What you cannot accept, don’t do it to others.

We have lost every sense of decency. It is now the greatest cancer that is spreading beyond the speed of sound in this country. I pray that whoever comes back as the head of this country will fight it.

Pastor E.Adeboye once said that he worried more for failing economy, insecurity and perhaps corruption than this 2023 general elections that commenced with the presidential election last Saturday. What is your reaction to this?

Absolutely factual! I have said severally that at this moment, all Nigerians irrespective of religion must be prayerful and there is need to fast.

As a Christian, whenever you kneel down at night or in the morning, pray to the Almighty God, do your fasting and pray that whatever is this devil that has entered Nigeria, God should help us to drive it out. We are completely bedevilled; we lost our souls.

What is the relationship between tribes? What suddenly went wrong? When I was growing up, the Fulani herdsmen had been moving their cows from the North to South. Do you know why? The Northern part of the country where they have all the cows is a Savannah area.

In the South, we don’t have cows but we have very good grasses that they can eat. Then, why are we fighting? Why don’t we create a synergy? You have the cows; we have the grass. Negotiate it, rather than thinking you can super- imposed your own wishes and will on the other people which is the fastest track to chaos.

As a young man, I remember by the time those people finish selling their cows in the south, they would have drained most of the urine of the cows. You know it is Ammonia and they would be selling it. And they would go round the streets of Lagos and nobody complained.

At that time, there was no cooking gas or electric cookers. My mother would buy the urine and hang it at the back near the fireplace in the kitchen. Public health at that time wasn’t as good as it is now. Convulsion was a major disease for kids. So, if you see anybody who is convulsing, the first thing they would do is to run to the back of the kitchen, grab that bottle and just put their nose towards it to smell that Ammonia and within a short period of time, the person who is convulsing would wake up.

That was the kind of relationship that once existed. When I got to secondary school and started doing Chemistry, I knew that that thing was Ammonia. So, why are we fighting ourselves? Who decided where he was to be born? Before you came into this world, did you decide that you want to be a Yoruba man or to be a Hausa man or to be an Igbo man or an Urhobo man? No! Do unto others what you wish them do unto you.

That is the first lesson. That is the first golden lesson of life. But right now, there is so much mistrust and even religion has become a tool for political power. This is total madness!

My elder sister, my immediate older sister, is an Alhaja. I sent her husband to Hajj. She was born in the Christian home and she is married, she is okay, she has her children, she is happy with her husband and she is happy with her religion. What is all these? I don’t understand it.

Why are we making religion a central thing of our decision-making? It is personal. So, l agree with what Pastor Adeboye said in every way.

What hope is there for the survival of democracy in Nigeria?
I will draw this analogy. When you go to the court of law, you see that lady of justice blindfolded with a sword and a scale. She doesn’t care. She can’t see who you are: whether you are a big politician, a big man, a small man, a yellow man, a green man or a black man.

All she takes is when you have finished your statement, she weighs what you have said, compare it with the standard of law and pronounce you guilty or not guilty.

Survival of democracy depend on justice, fairness and equity in everything that we do, being able to tell the truth to power and being able to bring to book anybody that run out of the defined line in any election. No preferential treatment. You must be just, you must be fair and we must be equitable.

That is the tripod of stability and that is what they should do. If they do it well to their conscience, this nation, their children, grandchildren and family members will benefit from it. But if you do it otherwise, the otherwise too will happen to them.

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