The leader of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Lagos State, Chief Bode George, in his interview with Sunday Punch, discusses the just concluded elections and the reason why President Jonathan conceded defeat.
Chief Bode George describes the just concluded election as a deliberate and conscious robbery of electoral fairness, carefully calculated by the Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Read excerpts below;
In your clear assessment, what do you think led to the defeat of the Peoples Democratic Party in the last elections
The PDP was not defeated. We were manipulated out and history will judge what I am saying. When (Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission) Prof. Attahiru Jega came up with the use of card readers and Permanent Voter Cards, technically, you would have thought: ‘Thank God, we are in the 21st century, we have arrived.’ Take my state, Lagos, for example, 5.9 million people were registered to vote but until the week before the election which was fortunately postponed, we had 3.8 million PVCs delivered to Lagos.
That means 2.1 million people were cut off. In areas where there was insurgency, there was between 80 and 90 per cent distribution rate. Most of Jega’s areas had no problems. Thank God Jega is a professor. Let’s assume that he is teaching a 400-level class in a university. He teaches Classes A, B and C. In Class A, he has completed the syllabus but in Class B, he completed 60 per cent while in class C, he only completed 30 per cent of the syllabus and they are all going to write the same examination. Is that justifiable? Is that equitable? Thus, just looking at that, would he in his own mind, be satisfied that he did a good job?
Remember he first had February 14 as the election day. We thank God it was shifted. Yet he attributed the shift to the insurgency and the military wanting to operate. In his heart of hearts, can he face his Creator and say what he did was fair? Technically, we must move with the rest of the world but this manipulation was so vicious. I come from a highly politically-inclined family. The late Herbert Macaulay was my mother’s grandfather. Thus, we have always been politically vibrant in my family. I remember the politics of the 1960s. I sat back after the elections and when I saw the political setting, I concluded that after 50 years of independence and meandering, we are back at the starting block where we were in 1960. What have we achieved?
The Northern Peoples Congress is now the All Progressives Congress. The National Conference of Nigeria and the Cameroons is now the PDP which was in control of the Eastern Region and the Western Region. We have come full circle and we are back to the starting point. I love this nation but when we look at how things are being done, there is no equity, justice or fairness. I am praying we will alter the course and take the ship of state in a direction where every Nigerian will be proud to commit themselves to the unity and indivisibility of Nigeria. After an in-depth post-mortem analysis of this election, we will know that we have taken a journey that has led to nowhere.
Are you saying the elections were not credible despite President Goodluck Jonathan’s acceptance of defeat?
On the day of the presidential election, at about 1pm, when the card readers were not working, suddenly Jega said we should go manual. If you check the time it takes for a person to be accredited and the initial 500 people per polling unit and later 750; you would be shocked that over two million people were accredited in Kano within the remaining time and they all voted. We must have been a more developed country than America to pull that off. The result that came out of Kano was 1,903,999 and then I shuddered.
If I have to go to a classroom to teach and analyse this result, I would say there is no improvement at all and it took us straight back to the 1960 setting. We are now back to the era whereby people vote based on tribal sentiments. This was the kind of thing (former Head of State) Gen. Yakubu Gowon wanted to stop and that was why he came up with the National Youth Service Corps programme to put all of us in a melting pot so that a Nigerian colour could emerge but we have not achieved that. Will this not haunt Jega? He should go into the inner-most chamber of his house and beg God for forgiveness. I am ready for a debate with him with facts and figures. There needs to be a total overhaul of INEC because if not, it means one section of the country will always determine who becomes President. Does that augur well for peace?
When President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat, he said he knew the election was manipulated and that he was not a coward but he had sworn that he would not allow any Nigerian to be killed on his own watch; thus, he threw in the towel and wished Nigeria well. His action doused a lot of tension.
There was heavy manipulation in Lagos. Why would Ajegunle, Ajeromi/Ifelodun’s ballot papers be found in Kosofe Local Government? Why would Kosofe’s ballot papers be found in Ojo Local Government? Why were hoodlums snatching ballot papers and shooting into the air? I have been calming frayed nerves because there is a graveyard silence in Lagos and people are not happy about the results. I have said we should not conflagrate Lagos. We must follow the example of the civility exercised by our President, gather our information as humanly possible and head for the tribunal.
But the South-East and the South-South gave the PDP almost 100 per cent votes. Your party also got millions of votes from Rivers and Delta states.
Most of the states in those places were originally PDP. The founding founders of our party were people who were of diverse backgrounds: Alex Ekuweme, Bola Ige, Adamu Ciroma and Abubakar Rimi came together with others to form the mega party that was Nigeria in all ramifications.
It is on record that President Jonathan got over N21bn the week he announced his intention to run. Lagos is also said to have got the largest chunk of the money in the campaign chest. But PDP leaders allegedly used the money to buy mansions for themselves instead of campaigning for Jonathan. This was said to have led to your party being outwitted by the APC. What is your response to this?
When we do a thorough post-mortem analysis, you will get the details. Those who collected the money would have to explain themselves. No kobo was sent here. I have also heard of complaints both from the APC and the PDP. It shows you the level of poverty of the mind and of the stomach. People think politics is all about self. The great orator, Cicero, said we are not born for ourselves alone but for service. If all they know is ‘grab it’, how will the money last them? The Yoruba say money is for spending. Those who stole the last time, where are they? I was inundated here with complaints of people collecting money and fleeing. It was done by the APC and the PDP. We will do an analysis and reappraise. Some people have disappeared like a submarine. We will do analysis. People cannot be fully trusted but the people given the resources will have to account for it.
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