Former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Deputy Chairman Chief Olabode George is an aspirant for the national chairmanship. He spoke with EMMANUEL OLADESU on the protracted leadership crisis and his plans for the party.
Why do you want to be the national chairman of the PDP?
It is because the party needs a serious surgery to bring it back to where we were. There is the need for us to rebuild the party. As one of the party managers who has experience, as the national vice chairman, national deputy chairman and deputy national deputy chairman overall, I have worked with so many committed and loyal people and we delivered. The ship of the party is in comatose. So, people said, why can’t you go for the national chairmanship, if it is zoned to the Southwest. That’s why I decided to take up the challenge; to really build our party and transform the platform.
What’s the assurance that the convention will still hold, in view of the court order obtained by Senator Modu Sheriff?
A court of the same jurisdiction gave Makarfi the order to hold the convention. There is another order that there should be no convention. They are courts of the same jurisdiction. If it is an Appeal Court that gave that order, then, we will obey it. Since there is no higher court that has given an order, we are going ahead with it. The Chairman of the Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfim has said that it will hold.
Could you shed light on the zoning, which has torn the Southwest PDP apart?
No. It has not torn any zonal chapter apart. We had an election. Before the national convention, you have started from the ward, local government, state and zone. The national delegates emerged from the local governments. The procedures and processes were approved by the NEC. Sheriff chaired that NEC meeting. He obtained a form for the national chairmanship, filled the form and appeared for screening. All those processes made him to cease as the national chairman. All those parading themselves as the factional chairmen and zonal officers have ceased to be officers. We held our zonal congress where new leaders were elected. The constitution is very clear. They are just trying to create unnecessary trouble. But, a lot of negotiation is going on now to cool everybody’s temper and allow sanity to reign. i pray that there will be reconciliation before the convention. What is causing the problem personal ambition, and ego. the problem is not structural. Many meetings are going on and I am sure we will get to the end of it.
What edge do you think you have over other chairmanship aspirants?
The only thing I have done since 1998 was to have been one of the managers of the party. experience cannot be retired by any human being, which means you can use your wealth of experience till you die. If you have experience, you will reduce the stress and time of decision making. I was the Vice Chairman (Southwest). We won five of six states during my tenure. I became the Deputy Chairman (South). We won all the states in the South, except Lagos. Then, I became the Deputy Chairman overall we won 28 states out of 36. I was at the party secretariat for 10 years. Can you ignore that? With the crisis that is on now, I draw an analogy. as a master mariner, a sailor, we have the ship of state of the PDP at sea. It is facing a turbulent storm. Water is coming in. If you don’t have an experienced, competent captain, the ship will go down. What you need to do is to stabilise the party and bring the ship safely back to harbour. That is the need of the party at this point in time. It is not for a green horn. It is not for somebody who is just two years old in the party. Will you give yourself up for surgery for a fresh medical doctor who has just graduated or you will prefer an experienced, tested surgeon. The PDP is the biggest and the largest party in Africa. Somebody who has just joined a house and still being shown the kitchen, the toilet and still learning the rope, suddenly, he wants to be the head of the house. It takes time. The PDP is not a tribal party. It is not a mushroom party. That is the only strong national party. That’s why we have not gone under. No matter the wind that blows, we will survive. We have the constitution. We have the culture and ethos that are not written that guide us. I was the Director-General of the Presidential Campaign that brought Yar’Adua and Jonathan in. I have been involved in conflict resolution across the zones; in Ife/Modakeke crisis, Ngige crisis, in the Northwest.
What is the assurance that the PDP Governors’ Forum, which is an influential bloc in the party, will support your ambition?
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