- How He Plans To Win The PDP Chairmanship Elections
Chief Olabode Ibiyinka George is one of the top aspirants vying for the position of PDP National Chairman. He is contesting with others like Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Dr. Taoreed Adedoja, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, and others. But he says the others are no match for him in terms of Wisdom, and Experience. He insists that he is the most experienced party chieftain who has been involved in the running of the party at one level or other since inception, so he says he is better qualified to be the next PDP chairman.
Last week, when City People met him at his Lagos office he reiterated that point again. “You can’t buy experience. You can’t buy wisdom. I have acquired the experience, I have been an insider for years. I served the party for 10 years at the topmost management level. I was offered to be a Minister but I said no, I love being in the party. The grey hair on my head is like a bank account where you store your wisdom and experiences. You know you can’t buy experience in the classroom. You acquire it as you pass through life. So, what you would start to use at that age are the things you have stored there.”
“If you have stored experiences, positive wisdom, you would be able to bring wisdom to the people and bear on your actions and utterances. What I am bringing to the table is experience. I want to liken the current state of PDP to a ship in distress at sea. I was in the Nigerian Navy, I know what it is for a ship to be in very stormy water at sea. If you don’t have a well-experienced, well tested captain, you may not survive it. That is the state of our party today. That is why you don’t need an untested hand to handle the affairs of the party today. What I am bringing to the table is what I have acquired through the process and going through the mill. I was once the PDP National Vice Chairman (South-West), I was also the deputy chairman overall. So, what experience would you require? What testimony would you require again than all these things that I have said? I animated the PDP national convention many times over. I was also one-time Director-General of the National Presidential Campaign Organisation that included all the governorship, House of Representatives, Senators, State Houses of Assembly and we won 29 states and our President won convincingly.
What other testimonial would you want on the table at this crucial time when our party is in a state of flux and we are facing formidable opposition? Do you want to bring a person who has never served at any party level?
How will the person know the unwritten laws of the party? In any community, we have what we call the Written Constitution and the Unwritten Constitution. The unwritten constitution contains the norms, the culture, the dos and don’ts, the behaviour that is acceptable in a society that is handed over as you grow up. When you go to a normal African setting and even any part of the world, there are what we call taboos. And you learn them as you are growing up. If you misbehave, they hold your ears and give you a knock on the head. It is paramount these unwritten laws are being transferred to the children. That is what is needed to pilot the ship of the PDP back to the Presidential Villa.”
He never hides the fact that he has always been very close to the founding fathers of the party.
He revealed how he teamed up with other nationalists within the ambit of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in November 1998 and worked tirelessly for the success of the party in the 1999 elections.
Truly so. He served as a member in the immediate transitional stage between the elections and the inauguration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. He was later elected National Vice Chairman (South West) of the POP in December 1999.
City People gathered that Chief George’s profound training and comprehensive experience came to the fore in the leadership of the PDP in the South-West. “His discipline, diplomacy, determination and resilience shone like crystal in the manner in which he led the party’s campaigns in the prelude to the 2003 elections” revealed an insider. “His strategy of persistent encounter with the people through a rigorous programme of rallies and meetings led to the historic victory of the PDP in the Southwest, with the party sweeping five of the six states and the massive turn around in electoral support for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in the presidential election.” An insider also revealed that while there is no doubt that the Presidency was the foundation on which the 2003 electoral victory of the PDP in the South West was built, Chief Bode George was unreservedly its architect and for this, history will be very kind to him. Many of his aides say, the victory of the PDP in the Southwest was due, in large part to his unlimited capacity for conflict resolution. He was for ever ready to take to the roads to resolve any intra party conflict in any corner of the Zone.
His patience, selflessness, objectivity, neutrality and unwavering focus on the strategic objectives of the party always helped him to clear the debris of ambition which often drew the parties to the numerous conflicts which he invariably successfully resolved.”
“No wonder he has shot to the frontline of politics in Nigeria and to the top of the hierarchy of the Peoples Democratic Party. He is easily, one of the most recognizable names in Nigerian Politics and, usually, one of the most informed and forceful voices on national discourse.”
“He never shies away from intellectual confrontation neither is he ever reticent about sharing his views with the world. He is a robust debater and a profound analyst on socio- political issues.
He is widely known as a leading politician and frontline leader of the PDP who
exhibited incredible doggedness, bravery and uncompromising loyalty to the party during the recent judicial battle between Makarfi group and Sheriff faction.
At the national level, his conflict resolution abilities has been successfully invested in the Ife-Modakeke Crisis and civil strife in Owo. He served as the Chairman of the Presidential Peace Committee to both Communities and with patience and persistence helped to bring peace to their troubled Communities, It is indeed, for his remarkable conflict resolution achievements that the late Ooni of Ife conferred on him the unique title of Atona Oodua of Yorubaland.
Beyond his primordial zone, he has carried his conflict resolution magic to places as far as Anambra, Abia and Imo States. Of a special note is the fact that he was the Chairman of the PDP Fact-Finding and Reconciliation Committee on the Anambra State political crisis arising on the abduction of the State Governor. The Committee restored immediate normalcy and peace in that state and its recommendations guided the party in ensuring a peaceful end to the crisis.
Olabode George has been honoured with Chieftaincy titles in many parts
of the country among which are Atona Oodua Of Yorubaland, Sarumi Of Osogbo, Jagunmolu Of Ondo.
His convoluted trial and conviction on the manufactured charge of contract splitting for a contract that was never awarded has since been overturned by the Supreme Court which discharged and acquitted him on December 13, 2013 in a vigorous, decisive ruling which confirmed his innocence and nullified the venom of malice.
Explained a source close to him, the historic ruling written in a firm, magisterial vigorousness by Justice John Afolabi Fabiyi, the justices of the Supreme Court unanimously concluded:
“It has been observed that the case of the respondent rests on a shifting sand. The charges framed against the appellant in respect of splitting of contracts and disobedience of guideline in Exhibit P3 is unknown to any law at the material time. They rest on nothing in the face of the provisions of section 36(8) and (12) of the 1999 Constitution. It was a complete mistrial by the lower courts.
I must stop here as nothing useful will be served in moving forward in respect of other issues. The appeal is allowed as same is, no doubt, meritorious. The judgement of the lower court is accordingly set aside. The appellant is hereby discharged and acquitted.”
With his image. redeemed and the prevailing of the truth, Chief Bode George remains an unrepentant, assertive Nigerian patriot with incredible instinct for nationalistic fixity, undetained by tribal parochial narrowness. He is a natural team player, a network builder, a man of sweeping accommodating largeness. He remains an icon unbowed, a patriot undefeated by the malice and venom of little men who would mangle the truth to serve the hour.
Unknown to many he is a great grand son of Herbert Heelas Macaulay. He was born on 21st November 1945 to the family of the late Chief James Ayodeji George and Mrs. Remi Phillips-George. He sprung from Eko Division in Lagos State.
His paternal grandfather was the popular Mr. George Eleshin of Lagos while his paternal grandmother was from the Brazilian quarters of Lagos being a returnee from Brazil after the abolition of the slave trade in the 18th Century.
His maternal grandfather and grandmother hailed from the Phillips family of Abeokuta in Ogun State and Aganga-Williams family of Lagos, respectively. He began his educational career at the St. John’s Primary School, Aroloya, Lagos, in 1952 from where he moved to Jjebu-Ode Grammar School, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, in 1960.
He obtained his secondary education in 1964 with a brilliant result in the West African School Certificate Examination, Because of his exceptional performance, he was one of two students seconded on scholarship to Brentwood School, Essex in England which then had a linkage programme which allowed the best two students in the school certificate year to have their advanced level education in England. He got his advanced level Certificate and proceeded to the University of Lagos to study Engineering. He obtained a Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1970. He later obtained a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the same University.
Chief Olabode George, began his distinguished career in the then Niger Dams Authority, Kainji as a Pupil Engineer (Electrical) in 1970 from where he joined the Nigerian Navy in 1972 as a Direct General list officer. Between 1972 and 1985, he served on board the following ships: NNS Nigeria, NNS Otobo, Fleet Headquarters and the Nigerian Naval Flagship, NNS Aradu. He was appointed Commanding Officer (CO) of the Naval Technical Apprentice School 1985, the post he held till 1986 when he proceeded to the United States Naval War College in the US.
On his return to the country from the War College, he was appointed the Director of Weapon Systems at the Naval Headquarters until later that year when he had the distinguished honour and privilege of being appointed the Military Governor of the old Ondo State between 1987 – 1990.
During his tenure as Military Governor, (1987-1990), he brought his brilliance, administrative acumen and cosmopolitan exposure to bear on the governance in the state.
He met a State that lacked infrastructure. The State did not have a modern secretariat, a befitting official residence, an office for its Chief Executive, stripped of the basic accoutrements of modern governance.
Within the short period of his tenure, Chief George remodelled the Governor’s House, Governor’s office and the state secretariat.
He also acquired the Adegbemile Cultural Centre and built the Cocoa Conference Centre as well as the Akure Stadium for the purposes of hosting large events and sporting activities in the State. In addition, he invested considerable energy and resources in transforming Akure from a rural rustic town into a modern state capital with the dualisation of roads and beautification projects across the town. He built an Arcade in front of the State House of Assembly as an enduring symbol of authority for the Legislative Arm of Government.
He encouraged farmers to organize themselves to increase their output and built the Farmers House in the State Capital. He completed the Ose Dam to boost the supply of portable water to a large part of the State.
He constructed boreholes in rural communities and the riverine areas and brought electricity to several rural communities. He also bought outboard engine boats, to ease transportation and encourage commerce in the riverine areas.
He also invested in profitable and enduring ventures such as the building of the Owena Towers along Milverton Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, a 10 storey edifice with 20 luxurious flats, swimming pool and lawn tennis courts built at the cost of N27 million. All these achievements were recorded at a time Ondo was still classified as a poor State.
After his sojourn in the political administration, he came back into the service to serve as Commander, Naval Ordnance. He had the unique privilege of attending the prestigious course at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, coming out with the coveted title of Member of the National Institute (mni).
On his return from the National Institute, he was appointed Director, Academic Research and Analytical Support, National War College (NWC).
When the Military took over from the Interim National Government (ING) in November 1993, he was appointed the Principal Staff Officer to the then Chief of General Staff. In September 1994 he retired from active service as a Commodore with full benefits and was placed on the Reserve List. He has since been in private business mainly in the area of his professional competence, Telecommunications and Engineering.
In retirement, Chief Olabode George has continued to play key roles in the affairs of the country. He is a respected Analyst and profound commentator on public affairs.
He is known to be very forthright, fearless and patriotic in his commentaries on contemporary issues. He was one of the patriots who worked for the convening of the constitutional conference of 1994/95 as a means of turning things around and changing the political landscape of this country.