Monday, August 1, 2016 11:24 pm
By Bode George
Today, Chief Olabode George declared his intention to run for the chairmanship of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Below is his speech at the occasion:
Our leaders, my friends, fellow citizens, these are not happy days for our party. The times appear dark and bleak. The horizon is uncertain. We are being assailed in every corner.
Problems brew everywhere. Our challenges appear endless and intractable. Everyday, we are confronted with a new drama and with a new hurdle. Certainly, there are some obvious and not so obvious interests inside and outside our party who do not wish us well.
Today, our effectiveness as the opposition party is being rendered inconsequential and virtually of no value as we engage ourselves in a very destructive mutual consumption.
But this is not the way our founding fathers engraved the values, the normative patterns and the nuances of the party more than 17 years ago.
Surely, this is not the way the principles, the purposes, the originating tenets and the founding idealisms of our party were grounded and then enforced when the sacred seeds of the formation of the Peoples Democratic Party were sowed and nurtured on the unifying soil of Abuja.
Our founding fathers from the revered Chief Alex Ekwueme to the sageful and detribalised firmness of Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, the moderating persuasiveness of the late Chief Solomon Lar, the soaring oratorical largeness of the late Chief Bola Ige, the necessary argumentative balancing of the late Alhaji Abubarkar Rimi and the passionate candor of Alhaji Sule Lamido – these and many more were all honorable men of principle and genuine patriotic vision.
Their predication was selflessness, sacrifice, truth, courage, indivisible loyalty to the Nigerian State, the unswerving commitment and passionate devotion to the advancement and the nurturing of a great society whose mission and focus were stripped of parochial agenda or the recourse to the narrow canvass of tribal identification.
The Nigeria of their dream was a genuine rainbow coalition from the vast savannah and the plains of Makurdi to the coastal waters of the Atlantic ocean. Their ideal nation sweeps across the swamps and the mangroves of Calabar to the hills and forests of Ondo.
They had envisioned a nation rich in plural contributions, strengthened in a great diversity of talents, bolstered by a spirit of commitment, propelled by a common doctrine of the preservation of the truth and the pursuit of Excellence.
But they did not merely dream. They worked tirelessly to actualize their idealisms and their well defined concepts.
They tied up the knots of brotherhood and the bonds of patriotism. They sealed up the differences of faith and banished the ruinous rivalries of the ethnic banner.
Their unyielding fixity was one nation. Their unbending will and determination was one indivisible Nigerian Union.
Here, in this truth and resolute articulations, our founding fathers discarded and abandoned personal ambitions. Here, there was no narrow agenda. Here, there was no selfish pursuit of individual goals.
It was in this selflessness and ultimate resolve that our founding fathers were able to put in place a viable and enduring democratic legacy. This was our great beginning. This was our enviable pioneering foundation on which we built 16 years of an enduring and great democratic structure.
It is true that even in the best of times we were not all that perfect.
But which system in the world is without flaws? Surely, we had our own failings in the past. But we were able to use internal mechanisms to correct our errors. We were able to look within our party for the solution to any problem. Our party was self rectifying.
The organs of our party were democratic, self-reliant and self-guided. Our machinery was humane. Our purpose was clear. Our destination was firm and obvious.
We were humble and fair. We were diligent without being arbitrary. We were self-confident without being aggressive. We were dedicated, disciplined, realistic without being crude, without being indifferent. We were loyal without being tainted with the distorting seeds of mercenary coloration.
Ah, times have changed! Ah, times have changed! Our great party is no longer recognizable today. A lot of distortions have set in. Indiscipline has eroded the foundations of old. Selfishness and greed have compromised the great idealisms and the logical principles of our founding fathers.
We lost the presidential election because we had lost faith in the goals and the standards that had been erected by our founding fathers.
We lost the election because we became distant and indifferent to the needs and the aspirations of the people. The centerpiece of every democratic society is the embrace and the cultivation of the populist inclinations and necessities. Our campaign was hydra-headed without a coherent pivotal balance. We lacked direction and purposefulness. We ignored what was important to every man and woman and pretended everything was smooth and normal.
Alas, this is what brought us to our unenviable position today. This is why we must be very thoughtful and prayerful as we move forward towards a new beginning. This is why we must be cautious, even tempered and rigorous in making the right choice.
We cannot afford to be stampeded into making wrong decisions again. We cannot afford to be hurried into entrusting the fate of our party to neophytes and inexperienced people.
This is not the time for experimentation and whistling in the dark. This is not the time for untested characters and new-fangled moguls who are merely on a junketing spree. This is not the time for desperate time-servers and little men without vision.
Our party needs a rescue. Our party needs redemption. Our party deserves a balanced, experienced, tested, trusted and faithful hand. Our party needs a team player and a unifying leadership. Our party needs stability.
Here and now, I am humbly making a stand and a declaration as an aspirant for the position of the office of the National Chairman of our party with a vision to serve as a bridge builder, as a peace-maker and as a healer of the broken places.
I cannot do it alone. Nobody can. I alone cannot resolve all the issues or reconcile all the differences.
But I promise to work with our leaders to find a common ground and negotiate a healthy compromise to achieve a common purpose of a strong, prosperous, equitable, democratic and a victorious organization.
I cannot pretend that I have all the answers. But I am prepared and willing to work with all strata of our party to ensure that the dreams and the visions of our founding fathers are fully restored once again.
I am willing to work with the young and the old, the frail and the strong, men and women of all diversities to achieve a progressive synthesis to move our party forward.
I am not a stranger to the processes, the spirit, the principles and the guiding ethos of our party. I have been part of the building processes and the nurturing of the foundations of our party across all the states and the zones throughout our nation.
For 10 years, I served at the topmost echelon of our party hierarchy. I was a Zonal Vice Chairman of the South-West. I was the Deputy National Chairman (South). I concluded my service to our party as the Deputy National Chairman overall which is the second highest step to the foremost position of the National Chairman.
Most of our leaders and in particular my then chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, are living witnesses to my commitment, my loyalty, my dedication and my total devotion to the growth and the progress of our party.
I have learned the ropes and I have been guided by the collective wisdom of our leaders across our great nation. I fully understand the precepts, the mechanisms and the constitution of our party. I know the tradition, the culture, the guiding ethos and the normative patterns that our leaders have built and nurtured for so many years.
If elected, I am willing and ready to work with everyone regardless of personal differences to mend the broken places, to heal the ancient wounds, to reconcile the feuding factions and ultimately ensure that we strengthen our collective brotherhood and speak with one voice to regain victory in 2019. But I will never compromise on the foundational principles of justice, fairness and equity as enshrined in the constitution of our party.
We will equally accord all our governors and our legislators both at the state and national level the necessary pride of place and honour in this new dawn. We will protect their interest and help to enhance their effectiveness.
This we can do. This we must do to restore our party back to our winning ways.
Together with all other great leaders like Chief Anthony Anenih, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, Senator Walid Jibrin, Professor Jerry Gana, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Dr. Bode Olajumoke Dr. Peter Odili, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, the Ubah brothers, Senator Adolphus Nwagbara, Alhaji Bamangar Tukur, Alhaji Maina Waziri, Architect Bunu Sheriff, Dr. Shettima, Ambassdor Wali, Dr. Bello Muhammed, Senator David Mark and many others, I have for long been part of the resolve and the determination to strengthen the cause, the aspiration and the rallying principles of our founding fathers.
Finally, I believe our party can be great again. I believe we can return to our winning days again. I believe we can banish the seeds of discord and vanquish the venom of disharmony.
The road may still be rough. The horizon may still be dark and dreary but the sun will shine again. Brightness will come. Truth will prevail.
We must be forthright. We must be honest and sincere with ourselves. We must be disciplined and we must be dedicated to the path of honour and selfless service to our party and our nation.
I am ready to serve. I am prepared to work hard together with everyone who wishes our party and our nation well. This is my stand. This is my position. This is my pledge. May the mercy and the Blessing of the good Lord abide with each and everyone of you. Amen.
Text of an address by Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George, Atona Oodua of Yorubaland, while declaring his intention to vie for the office of the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the PDP state secretariat, Ikeja, Lagos…on Monday.