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INTERVIEW: Nigerians won’t forget Tinubu if he implements 2014 national confab report, says Bode George

INTERVIEW: Nigerians won’t forget Tinubu if he implements 2014 national confab report, says Bode George
March 31
12:12 2024

Bode George, a former deputy national chairman (south) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in this interview with TheCable’s TEMIDAYO AKINSUYI, speaks on the myriads of challenges confronting Nigeria and why the implementation of the 2014 national conference report will bring a lasting solution. He said President Bola Tinubu’s name will be written in gold if he implements the report.


TheCable: The word ‘restructuring’ seems to have taken backstage since the new administration came on board. When you mention it, there are discordant tunes from north to south, east and west as every region have different interpretations based on how it suits their needs. What is your definition of restructuring?

George: What it means is that, reduce the power at the centre and give more economic power to the states. In other words, the resources that are being harnessed and being paid to the federal purse, let each state keep 70 percent of what they can produce and send 30 to the national — just like we had in the first republic where the centre was weak and the regions were powerful.

Also, policing is local. Let us have state police. To me, that is the solution. Reduce the power of the centre. This means there will be political and economic restructuring; but defense, external affairs will still be national and this means that the states will have more powers and then they will be more responsive to the needs of the people in their state. I was a delegate to the national conference of 2014. That was the only national conference this country has ever had convened by a civilian administration that started and ended without any fiasco. Unanimously, all those resolutions were adopted on the plenary session at the floor, all thrown open.

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The history of this country must not go down without a big thank you to the late Justice Idris Kutigi and former President (Goodluck) Jonathan. Jonathan never interfered to manipulate and say ‘Do this, do that!’. Baba Kutigi was a decent, humane, and thoroughbred Nigerian. He rose above the frills of tribalism or annoyance; no matter what people said, even in anger, he would reply with smiles. He brought down all the tension in that hall. I had never seen Nigerians so united. The most sensible thing to do is for the government to revisit that document, throw it to the national assembly and let them open it up because justice, fairness and equity must be the tripod that will stabilise this country.

People are just misinterpreting restructuring. Yes, people will have various ideas, comments and all that, but there must be a meeting point and there must be compromises. The national conference document is the compromise version. Agitations from all nooks and crannies of this country are saying what they want. In the end, everybody may not get all the things they want but they won’t go home empty-handed.

TheCable: What are the two critical issues you think this present administration should give priority to?

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Bode George: Tinubu should consult widely and seek for solutions on how to alleviate all these sufferings and pains.

George: Very simple! There are two major areas of concern. The first is the insecurity challenges across the country. We have enough people with the experience in security matters in this country. Yes, the president has appointed security chiefs and other aides on security matters, but the infant’s head does not bend when the elders are in the market. The government can tap into the experience of retired security experts. He should consult with them on the way to go. He should look for retired security experts who were very useful during their active years in service and brainstorm with them on how to tackle these monstrous challenges. It is only when there is mutual collaboration and sharing of ideas that we can effectively tackle these challenges.

Aside insecurity challenges, there are other issues such as kidnapping, hunger, unemployment and economic crisis. The president should consult widely and seek for solutions on how to alleviate all these sufferings and pains.

The second is the issue about the 1999 constitution which we are using to direct the affairs of this country. We must be deceiving ourselves if we think this present constitution will take us to the promise land. Also, anyone who believes an amendment will make the constitution work is just deceiving himself. We must revisit the constitution in order to effectively tackle the insecurity challenges. If we implement state policing today, it will be value-added because the governors will recruit locals into the police. In America, they have state police; they also have county police. The nearer the police command is to the people, the safer. Because the policemen live in the neighbourhood, it will be easy for them to spot any criminal or bandit that comes into the community. The creation of state police will not affect the national police in anyway; but it will rather complement and ensure that we have a very effective policing system.

Look at the issue of local governments in Nigeria today. What is the business of Aso Villa with what happens in my local government? But what do we have here? It is the federal government that allocates money to local governments every month. Lagos has 20 local governments and it is the largest populated state in this country. We also have the highest number of registered voters. Yet, we have just 20 local governments while Kano has 44. Jigawa was created out of Kano, yet it has 27 local governments. What is the business of the federal government with the local governments? If any state wants to create one million local governments, that is the state’s problem. They will solve any problem that arises as a result of the creation. They must use the resources of that land for the benefit of the people. Look at the United States, in Atlanta, the airport there is run by the council. The city of New York runs their port and JFK. Why should everything in Nigeria be about the federal government? That is a military system of management where a boss will be giving orders to people all over the place. This is a civilian administration. Power must evolve from the people.

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TheCable: We are operating a democratic system of government which many believe is better than military rule. If there are defects in the constitution, don’t you think amendments by the national assembly will address these?

George: We are just deceiving ourselves with the system we are running. Everyday, it is clear that this system is not working. I have traversed the length and breadth of this country. There is no part of this country that God did not endow with one resource or the other. It is our management style that is wrong and archaic.

On the economic situation, just look at the indices. Look at what our people did with the dollars that we earn. That was shambolic and self-conceited. Currently, there is no income and without that, how can you shore up your currency? They are celebrating now, saying the naira rate to dollar is dropping. What is dropping? All those talks are mere deceit. We keep going out now borrowing money and that has made us a destitute nation. It is not a joke.

We have many professors in the four corners of this country who are very knowledgeable about the economy. I expect the government to get them together in order to find a solution to this economic quagmire that we are in. There are people who have sat in positions of authority in this country and they are still alive. The president should consult them and seek advice. There is the council of state where we have former heads of state and governors. What is wrong in seeking advice from them? If it is for the good of this country, so be it. When Baba (Obasanjo) was president, he made use of special advisers who were not even part of his cabinet. Many people don’t know these ones. We don’t need to know them. All we need is their pool of wisdom to navigate our country out of these challenges. We must not deceive ourselves. What we are operating presently is not working.

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People are hungry and they are therefore angry. I want Mr. Tinubu to do only one thing and Nigerians won’t forget him if he can do that. He should take the report of the 2014 national confab and implement the recommendations. The solution to the problems of Nigeria have been provided in that report. If we can do so, we will remain on the golden pages of history for generations to come.

TheCable: Former President Muhammadu Buhari refused to implement the report of the 2014 confab. Do you think the incumbent president who promised to continue from where Buhari stopped will implement it?

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Bode George

Bode George: Nigeria is battling with two madness of tribalism and religious bigotry.

George: Tinubu just started his presidency, so he still has time to implement it. Look at our inflation rate today. It is now 31.70 percent. So, what will be the rate if you go and loan money from the bank? It will be higher than the inflation rate. Which company can make money and survive in that situation? Why are we deceiving and lying to ourselves? Some people still believe that there is no cause for alarm. Let’s take a walk in the streets of any part of Nigeria and see whether the people are happy or angry. If the ruling party likes, let them implement the recommendations or not, but that is the truth. At almost 80, if I cannot say the truth the way it should be, then why am I alive?

Right now, majority of our brothers from the north are also complaining that this constitution is not working. We have been saying that for a long time but everybody can now see that the constitution is stifling our development and growth. Look at the anger and lacklustre administration given to those people who have now been educated. The beauty about education is that it makes people easy to rule but difficult to enslave. They will challenge you; they will ask you questions when they see that things are not being done properly. They are now asking for an overhaul of the constitution and are demanding for state police. I believe a responsive and responsible government should listen to them.

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TheCable: Nigerians appear more divided than ever before based on ethnic, religious and political lines. Do you think a united Nigeria is possible?

George: When the British granted us independence and went back to their country, they left behind two madness that we are still unable to resolve till now. This two madness are tribalism and religious bigotry. We are meant to be a united people but we are heavily divided. Who among us told God at the time of birth that I want to go to south-west, south-east or the north? Who among us told God I want to be born in Europe or Asia? We just came out into the world and He told us in the first two most important commandments that we should respect and love Him as our creator.

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The second is that love your neighbour as yourself. What you will not accept, don’t do it for somebody else. Why can’t we just follow that commandment in Nigeria and treat others the way we want to be treated? If anything happens now, people look at it through the prism of tribalism. If they don’t use tribalism, they will resort to religious bigotry. Why should we continue to divide ourselves on the basis of religion? I have an older sister who is a Muslim. I sent her and her husband to Hajj in Saudi Arabia. Why didn’t I abandon her simply because we didn’t share the same religious beliefs? If we can learn to tolerate others and love one another, we won’t have many of the problems we have today.

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