As Nigerians await the verdict of the presidential election tribunal, former national vice chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, has expressed fears that the nation could be thrown into turmoil if either the petitioners or respondents win the case.
He stated this in a speech at the fifth annual lecture organised by Freedom Online, with the theme: “2023-2027: Nigerians, Elected Leaders and Expectations” in Lagos, yesterday.
George, former military governor of old Ondo State, said he was worried about what would happen if the verdict of the tribunal swayed either to President Bola Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who are respondents in the matter or the petitioners, the presidential candidates of the Labour Party, Peter Obi and that of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar.
“We are in a situation where if the court favours ‘A’ there would be trouble, and if the court favours ‘B’, there would also be trouble. The way most of our elected leaders take life, it is as if there would be no tomorrow. May God forgive our transgressions and direct the minds of our political leaders in ensuring a good life to all our people in Nigeria.”
George also criticised the political class for marginalising and oppressing the less privileged in the society. “Enough of this deceit. Enough of this rottenness in the financial management of our nation. Let us put an end to the economic inequalities, injustice and unfairness in the distribution of our God given resources and our financial wealth. A situation where a sitting senator collects N23 million every month, a retired federal permanent secretary N1 million per month and a retired general collects N250,000 as pension per month is despicable, shambolic,nonsensical and outright systemic failure.
“We are now talking about distributing palliatives to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal but how will the palliatives be distributed? A quick reminder of the N500 billion previously collected monthly and supposedly distributed without data and accountability calls for in-depth investigation and punishment. I weep for my country Nigeria but if like Prophet Micah said, our nation will rise again if we put the fear of God before all human endeavours.”
George, who was a special guest of honour at the event, said Nigeria’s constitution was drafted by the military while copying the American system and therefore is not workable.
“I served for a long in the military, I can authoritatively confirm to you that the Nigerian constitution is absolutely military in the setting. In the military, orders come from top to bottom. But in a democratic dispensation, powers come from the people to the top. But we have copied the American constitution, and that is why things are not working. We must be deceiving ourselves if we think that this constitution will take us to the Promised Land.
“During former president Goodluck Jonathan’s time, a conference was set up for the first time to look at the constitution but immediately former President Muhammadu Buhari came, he put the documents of that conference in the archives and that is where we are today. We are already talking about the next elections when we haven’t even concluded on the decision of whom the president is. If we keep waiting for all our resources to be taken to Abuja, it would never work,” he said.
Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, represented by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Daniel Alabrah, lamented that Nigeria has failed to attain its potential 60 years after independence. He called on politicians to empower youths and ensure they were not used for political violence.
“I find that too often as politicians, we factionalise and put ourselves in enclaves to enhance our personal interests. As we build up to the governorship elections in Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo State, I wish to appeal to all political actors, let us empower the voices of our younger generation, they should not be pawns to be used in political games, rather they are the life blood of our future. They should play active roles in shaping the society and not be used as drug-induced thugs for mayhem and violence.”
Managing Director of Freedom Online, Gabriel Akinadewo, said the purpose of the lecture was to brainstorm on what Nigerians want between now and 2027 when another general elections would be conducted.
He said: “This democratic journey started in 1999 and 24 years later, can we rightly say Nigerians are satisfied with the state of affairs today? In essence, what should elected leaders do to earn the trust of Nigerians? When do we draw a line between politics and governance? Expectations of Nigerians between now and 2027 are very clear and simple. We cannot be doing same thing over and over again and expect a different result. If centralisation of governance is a product of the military because of its chain of command, the military has been out of governance since 1999. So, what is stopping the civilian authority from decentralising governance?”