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Bode George’s navigation to prison

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By Owei Lakemfa
In the maze of the woes the political elites have sunk the Nigerian people, good news comes our way only once in a while. Such was the case when the Supreme Court sent an usurper, Andy Uba packing from the Anambra State Government House and restored the legitimate administration of Peter Obi.

There was also the replacement of an impostor in the Rivers State Government House with Rotimi Amechi, the true candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Olusegun Agagu  had been minister under the Obasanjo presidency for which he was later dragged before the National Assembly for being part of the gang that fritted away $15 billion in the guise of providing electricity  for the country.

He even was a one term governor before the courts found that he stole the people’s mandate. He was replaced by the people’s choice, Olusegun Mimiko.

Another good news came our way last week when Olabode Ibiyinka George, retired Naval officer, former military dictator of Ondo State, ex-PDP Vice Chairman and  National Deputy Chairman was sent to two and half years jail without an option of fine.

A resilient Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) diligent prosecution, and the upright Justice Joseph Olubunmi Oyewole saw off George and his five accomplices, Aminu Dabo, Olugbenga Abidoye, Zaina Maideribe, Aminu Tafida and Sule Aliyu  to jail for abuse of office, contract splitting and inflation while being on the board of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA)

An audit panel had earlier indicted them for splitting contracts in order to circumvent  their N20 million approval limit. It also found that they inflated contract costs and engaged in differential pricing such as  purchasing at a unit price of N11,804.77 berets which its police department bought at N750 each. Where government policy dictates that not more than 25 per cent of a contract sum should be released as mobilisation fee, the Bode Gorge board was paying contractors more than 75 per cent.

George is a national leader of the PDP, Africa’s most efficient election – rigging machine. This was one judgement he would have loved to rig; but before an incorruptible judge, it was an impossible task. Rather, he had to change his 23-yard white flowing agbada for the trimmer uniform of a prisoner  which given his bulky frame, can’t be a comfortable wear.

My heartfelt sympathy to the PDP which, obviously relying on Bode Elewon, had directed that Lagos be captured in the 2011 elections. Now, Bode George might be cooling his heels in the Kirikiri Maximum Prison by the time the elections are held. A case of man proposes, God disposes.

George chanced on our national consciousness in December  1987 when the Babangida dictatorship imposed him as the Military Governor of Ondo State. Later, a wife, Feyisetan Efunbowale emerged from the shadows as the de facto governor.

There were claims by some public officers that she attacked them. During a state visit by the usually diplomatic Babangida, he publicly chided her.

George is primarily remembered in the state for his construction of fountains  which never sprouted water in all the major towns of the state. When his rule came to an inglorious end and the media asked him what he would want to be remembered for, George answered “that a Lagos boy once passed through this state”. Such was the culture of impunity and arrogance of power by the military politicians.

Those were the days when  transparency and accountability were  seen as alien to governance. The military politicians, to quote Babangida were not just in office  but also in power.

Tragically for the country, when the era of civil rule dawned, these military politicians who for 29 years looted the national treasury, simply off-loaded some of their loot on the polity and became either godfathers or “elected” leaders of the new dispensation. They were so brazen that they brought retired General Olusegun Obasanjo into the new polity and foisted him on the country as the president.

Under Obasanjo’s presidency, the Nigerian landscape was George’s theatre, the West his stage and Lagos, his footstool. In the Lagos PDP, he decided who could get anything. Funsho Williams was PDP gubernatorial candidate in 2003 and he with some party stalwarts looked forward to flying the party’s flag in the 2007 elections.

One day, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro decamped to PDP and George in a moment of power drunkenness and mental stupor, raised Obanikoro’s hand as the party’s next  gubernatorial candidate. This was without primaries! That was one of the acts that led to the Lagos PDP umbrella which was already worn out, being torn to shreds. Ironically when the primaries held after Williams had been murdered, George did not support Obanikoro.

Instead, he swung his influence on the side of Williams’ widow. Such is the confused mind of George who like most of his barracks colleagues in politics, is highly unprincipled.

George was undoubtedly quite powerful, but rather than use that power positively, he employed  it to harass Lagosians and the government of Bola Tinubu. At a point, his boys boldly waylaid then Vice President Atiku Abubakar in Lagos for daring to disagree with President Obasanjo.

At the NPA where he held sway as board chairman, George brought to bear his decades in office as an artful dodger; rather than directly taking from the public till, he and his fellow convicts spilt and inflated contracts. They thought it was business as usual until Justice Oyewole sent them to jail.

If I were to scribble an epigram, I will write: “To Bode George, A smart Lagos Boy. Born on November 21, 1945. And jailed on October 26, 2009 when he was officially 64 years old”.

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