By Dapo Akinrefon
CHIEF Olabode George, a former Deputy National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, in this interview, bares his mind on the Supreme Court judgment that authenticated the leadership of Senator Ahmed Makarfi and steps taken by the leadership to ensure genuine reconciliation in the party.
With the Supreme Court handing over the leadership of the PDP to the Makarfi-led executive, what is the next line of action?
It is like you were in your mansion and suddenly there was a storm and you had to leave your mansion for about 18 months to live on a rented two-bedroom apartment. When you now know the mansion has now been vacated, you need to restructure it, you need to re-paint, you need change the furnishing, you have to do some fumigation to allow all the cockroaches and lizards to get out of the house; that is the kind of situation we are in.
You know we don’t have time but we had very successful meetings: The caucus meetings, the Board of Trustee meeting and the National Executive Council meeting. We took a lot of decisions. First, we realized that the tenure of the caretaker committee will wind up very soon. So, there was need to have a special convention with a single agenda and that agenda is to extend the tenure of the caretaker committee. In the meantime, there are some states that have not done their congresses and there are other ones which have one issue or the other.
Before you get to the convention, every state must be stabilized, and that is the immediate step we are going to take. So, arrangements are in place for the August 12 special convention.
And in the South-West, we realized that there are some areas of concern. Governor Ayo Fayose called a few elders to meet with the caretaker committee immediately after the NEC meeting to reassure them that we will be able to handle most of our problems in the zone. We have experienced and highly committed people in the region. Very soon, the managers of the party in the zone, headed by Dr Eddy Olafeso, will call a meeting in Ibadan, which is the central state for all of us to meet, and resolve the crisis in some of those states and do what is needful.
Again, those people who have been doing things that are inimical to good order and discipline as far as PDP is concerned, we cannot allow them to go without being queried and, if necessary, punish them because no individual is bigger than the party. So, those are things the party must do, but before we rose from the NEC, there are two major committees that we decided to set up, one of which is the National Disciplinary Committee that will look at those who have continually derided the party. The essence is to signal that there is zero tolerance for indiscipline in the party. The second committee is the Reconciliation Committee. We want to know those who are still committed to the party.
Those who left because of the complaint of impunity in the party, we will be too happy to have them back in the party.
How true is the claim that those loyal to the Modu Ali Sheriff-led PDP are planning to leave for a mega party?
They fought us. If they are genuine members of the party, they will not leave. Immediately we left the Supreme Court, the first comment made by Senator Makarfi was that there was ‘no victor and no vanquished.’ That is an olive branch sent to them. The choice to come or leave is theirs and if they cannot be convinced to stay, what can we do? If we had lost at the Court of Appeal, I am sure they would have expelled all of us. I wouldn’t have waited for expulsion anyway. I would have announced retirement from politics right at the door steps of the Supreme Court that day, but I am glad that justice has been done and God is with us.
Those who want to go to a mega party, I wish them best of luck. We know we have the capacity, we have a constitution and we have a deep and strong taproot that can withstand any storm.
This is a lesson for us, we must never forget what we went through; if we repeat the mistakes of the past, we will be consigned into the dustbin of history.
After the Supreme Court judgement, Mr Segun Adewale, who led the Sheriff group in the PDP in Lagos, insisted that he remained the state Chairman of the party.
I don’t know how long he has been in the party or if he has read the party’s constitution. His pronouncement is totally against the decisions made by the National Executive Committee.
My advice to him, if he still wants to remain in the party, is to read the communique issued by the NEC. He is flouting the orders of NEC and already committing an offense listed in the constitution of the party.
He was never elected at any congress; he was nominated and appointed by Sheriff. I don’t know which PDP appoints people rather than elect through congress. The NEC has approved that the Lagos State exco is headed by Moshood Salvador.
I am advising him as a veteran that he should not bite the fingers that fed him. I will advise him to move away from the precipice, come back home and put on his thinking cap. Any action, public or private, that runs contrary to our constitution will be viewed with seriousness. The press conference he did is an offense.