2011: BODE GEORGE VITAL TO PDP – DOHERTY, PARTY CHIEFTAIN

By NBF News
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Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in Lagos State, Engineer Deji Doherty has said that leader of the party in the state, Chief Bode George would continue to play his role in the party in spite of his incarceration. Doherty, a former governorship aspirant of the party spoke in an interview with Daily Sun in Lagos.

George who is currently serving jail term in Kirikiri Maximum Prison, Lagos has been a key player in Lagos PDP. Besides, Doherty is optimistic that the PDP would be able to put its act together and give the Action Congress (AC) a strong fight in the 2011 election in the state.

He said already, the party has overcome most of it's challenges and that before the next election, it would be better positioned to prosecute the elections. He also spoke on the problem of lack of internal democracy in Nigerian political parties and other issues.

Excerpts:
Lagos PDP and 2011 preparation
Like you know it is not a new thing. After we lost election in 2007, the party has been trying to refocus and re-energize itself. However, it has been a daunting task. There are quite a lot of areas of concerns. During that same period, we have a situation whereby our leader; Chief Olabode George has also been incarcerated. We have different challenges that we have been trying to overcome.

Not to down play the seriousness of these challenges. I want to say at least we have being able to overcome 70 percent of our challenges. And I believe that within the nearest future, before the election, we will be able to achieve a 90 per cent success in overcoming these challenges. And I think with that we will be able to have a united front to face the incumbent and the party running the state right now.

Internal wrangling in Lagos PDP
I think you know the issue of uniting members is not much of a problem. I think the ideology of politicians, the motive of politicians in politics, re-orientating themselves to believe that there in politics to serve the people. They are aspiring into offices to serve the people. Rather than to serve themselves. By this, I will like to say that the coming together happens in an instance and that is when a candidate emerges or various aspirants show their intention publicly to run for governorship, Senate, House of Representatives etc, definitely you will see politicians rallying around them. And by the time one person is chosen, everybody crystallizes together.

I believe that the total unity of the party is just a matter of time. As candidates emerge in the party, everybody will fall in line and we will start singing the same song. Politicians should see public office as a call to service rather than thinking about only their selfish interest.

Bode George absence not an impediment to PDP success in the next election

Chief Bode George with all due respect never took part directly in electioneering. He gave instructions and get people to supervise the instructions. So, I don't believe that he would not be able to do that where he is. Because you can be incarcerated, but you have the freedom to talk even where you are there. And you have the right for people to visit you when you are there. So, I don't think that is an impediment. I am sure that he should be able to talk and he would be able to talk and he would be able to play his own role in any electioneering that is coming up in the future.

Imposition of candidates not peculiar to PDP
In the past, not only in the Peoples Democratic Party, but also in all parties, you always have situations whereby candidate are imposed collectively. It has never been collective decision of candidates. The candidates at that time emerge out of the votes of the people. But the candidates that are been imposed did not emerge and that polarized the party. In AC the candidate that emerged which is the sitting governor today was imposed on all the other candidates, and all the other candidates, must of them left the party, if you can recall.

I saw in the paper few days ago, where Buhari said that he was going to continue to run for president until he can't run anymore. Under what party? Under a party that he controls. At the end of the day, it is a general problem of politicians. And that is where I will like you as journalists to focus on. It is not just a PDP problem. It is a general problem. If you go to AC, if don't do Bola Tinubu bidding, you can't get ticket. So, it goes all round. Even the late Gani Fawehimi's party, the people's party, if you don't deal with him directly, you can't get the ticket.

However, why does it happen like that? In some particular cases, you have found out that by experience, by history that from the 1999 era down a lot of unscrupulous men took part in the early politics of this country. And latter we found out that men of questionable character filled the Senate, filled the Assembly, filled the governorship seats in the nation.

And this has created a situation whereby credible people, people like you do not want to go into politics because you believe politics is a dirty game. However, if you don't get in, you are going to leave the politics that is dirty for only the dirty people to be there. And the dirty people will definitely create dirty policies for you to live with.

The way out is for everybody, technocrats, everybody to take part in politics. Even if it is on your ward level, your community level, take part in one form or the other. Take part in deciding or swaying the votes of your community.

Electoral reform
The issue of electoral reform is very simple. Primary schools. Secondary schools, they do elections in their own right. And they come out, the prefect emerges. The social prefects emerge. Do they have any electoral reform to do that? It comes back to the politicians. Obama said his candidature for president of the United States of America was not constructed in the backyard of anybody's house. It was through the people. Through him campaigning to the people. If we don't campaign to the people. If we impose from the party, if we continue with godfatherism, at the end of the day, how can you have a credible election?

So, when you are talking of electoral reform, it is all in the mind of those who execute elections and the participants of the elections. What are we reforming? If you are going to thump print once, thump print once. Once you thump print twice, you are already rigging. We ought to know that this right and this is wrong. That way what would the reforms do, it is the people that execute the reforms. And if the people are not reformed, electoral reforms cannot work.