Text of a speech by former Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, at a press conference in Lagos shortly after his arrival from London on Saturday.
The wise Chinese people say in their proverb that “may you live in interesting time! This is both a challenge and a moral inspiration. Let me hasten to say that the People’s Democratic Party is now living in interesting time. We are at a moral crossroads, struggling with the survival of our party. We are at a pivotal junction wrestling with what the future holds for us all.
Indeed, we are now confronted with a troubled destiny as a party. We are equally confronted with our relevance as opposition party in the great march to deepen the democratic processes of our country.
The People’s Democratic Party must now re-evaluate itself. We must reassess our values. We must re-appraise our mission. We must look through our party vision and invariably rebuild our party in the crucial journey towards 2019.
Our party was founded on the principles of fairness, justice and equity. We represent all the diverse colorations of our great nation. From the vast stretches of the Savannah in the North to the huge coastal waters of the South, we define the richness , the cultural beauty and the limitless aspirations of our people.
Our party represents the hope , the inclinations and the endless possibilities of all our people regardless of tribe and tongue. That was our foundation. That was the vision of our founding fathers . That was the principle that gave our party the winning ways and the tremendous acceptability of the past.
But we have derailed from the classical beginning. We have detoured foolishly from the redemptive path. We have lost our bearings. We have left the safety of our anchor for the perilous and the unknown shores. We are now adrift, circling in turbulent waters.
My brothers and sisters, fellow party men and women, we must discard this new attitude of ruinous greed and desperate avarice. We must abandon the creed of irreverent conspiracy and the recourse to petty malice. This disturbing madness will not and cannot prevail again. We must confront new realities. We must jettison the crude, inordinate greed of the recent past. We must eschew the unhealthy and the baseless character assassination in the crazy struggle for power.
The eyes of our people are upon us all. We must be strong and resolute. We must rededicate ourselves to the new horizon.
We must discountenance the desperate campaign of calumny to pull others down because of personal advantages. We must put the interest of our party far above any parochial position.
We lost the last general election not because the opposition party at that time was better than us. We lost the election because there was no unity. We lost the election because we harbored some agent provocateurs whose goals and visions were not about our collective victory but about what they can get for themselves.
If we want to prevail in future, if we are really serious about the complete overhaul of our great party, we must never again allow such fifth columnists to gain any position of influence and relevance in our party. We must be very critical and prudent in choosing those who should lead us.
To rebuild our party, to re-establish ourselves in fresh and determined vigor, we must weed out the decaying roots that can bear no good fruits. We must eliminate through the process of sifting and sorting and discard the poisonous seeds that can endanger the healthy growth of our party. We can never again harbor insidious elements who would plant one foot in PDP in day time and another foot in APC at night.
What is now at stake is not about party in-fighting and the desperate tussle for position. What is important now is genuine service and commitment. We must all rededicate ourselves to work as a solid , formidable team.
We must first devote ourselves to the path of hard work and absolute selflessness. We must be resolute about sacrifice and the sincerity of purpose. We must be determined about quality leadership and the pursuit of excellence. Our resolve now is not about personal pursuit. Our focus should be predicated on the summative good and the glory of our party.
We must now move away from the dubious recourse to personal agenda. This party is greater than all of us. The unity of this nation is more treasurable than the narrow self-seeking individual advantages.
The goal and the vision of our party should be about the greater glory of our nation.
We must work and speak as a united body. We must deliberately seek out the best and the brightest among us to occupy positions of leadership.
We must immediately discard personal biases and narrow prejudices in our search for credible leadership. We must never again mortgage the collective destiny of our party because of immediate material gains or because of petty animosity against individuals.
We are entering a very crucial and critical phase in the remolding and the restructuring process of our great party. There cannot be any mistakes or mis-steps. We must be truthful, sincere and genuine with ourselves and with our conscience. We must be honorable and fair in our deliberations as we move forward.
We cannot build a new leadership on the platform of discord and disunity. We cannot erect a firm and formidable structure on the rickety planks of jealousy and envy.
This is why we must restore discipline and restore a strong adherence to constitutional purity. Indeed, indiscipline has contributed a great deal to our recent defeat. When some people become too overbloated with inordinate ambition, when some people think that every position should come to them, they will have no respect for the rules and regulations.
They will invariably trample upon orderliness and the due process. Specifically, we must never again tolerate and over-indulge those who insist on bringing down the roof because they lost fair and square in party primaries. Civilized men and women must acknowledge defeat and move on with their lives.
The very few disgruntled characters who will threaten hell and brimstone because things don’t go their way are the greatest enemies of our democratic process. It is remarkable to note that those who were beating their chests and making the greatest noise about their relevance and viability are now keeping a safe distance from the shores of our land! What an irony!
Our National Chairman, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, has a very significant role to play in this crucial transitional process as we move towards our Congresses and the National Convention. His task is very daunting and challenging. I wish him God’s guidance as he maneuvers carefully in re-establishing a solid foundation for our party. I implore him to be faithful to his words and his promise in the processes of giving our party a new strong and firm foundation. I want to believe the chairman is an honourable man. He must honour his word to handover to an elected chairman at the National Convention on May 21 this year. This is the only way that he will be on the positive side of history.
Let me now acknowledge the conscionable and selfless leadership role of the members of our Board of Trustees amid the current challenges. They are worthy men and women. They are dedicated and honourable leaders who treasure the unity of the party far above narrow interests.
Under the able and wise chairmanship of Senator Walid Jibrin, the BOT has risen to its constitutional role of the conscience of our party with exemplary grace and nobility of character. It is true that the BOT is indeed the last vanguard of our defense line. The BOT is the sacred anchor of our constitution. It is the custodian of our values and ideals. It is our reliable and responsible bulwark in the moment of crisis and trials.
The BOT has been very consistent. It has been firm and purposeful in its insistent that our party must follow the due process and abide with the dictates of our constitution. Indeed the BOT has played an exemplary role so far in the restoration of sanity and civilized standards to our party.
Our Governors have been equally resolute, relentless and ultimately tireless in their dedication and commitment to bring back our party to its winning ways. The PDP Governors’ Forum under the leadership of Governor Olusegun Mimiko continues to demonstrate a strong vision and statesmanship quality in its matured intervention in the affairs of our party .
Some of our former ministers and the majority of our lawmakers have also been very resolute and sincere in their relentless crusade for fairness and equity especially as it relates to the zoning of the party offices. This is indeed a very delicate issue. The zoning must be predicated on justice and equitable balance to ensure the continuity and the democratic pedigree of our party.
At this crucial juncture, we need credible, responsive, experienced, resourceful, creative and matured men and women at every level of our party leadership. This is not the time for mere praise singers and time-servers. This is not the time for untested, untried and inexperienced neophytes.
We need good, qualitative people to rise up to lead our party towards victory in 2019. We need people of integrity and formidable status. We need leaders with strong, unimpeachable character and with massive networking that can stand up with awesome presence and tame our major opponents.
And as a responsible and constructive opposition party, we need those who will guide our party with solid intellectual footing and balanced integrity. We need those who will lead us with sharp, engaging level of articulation without subjecting our party and the critical issue of the state to the gutter level. We need people who will raise the standard of discourse and enlightened debate.
Yes, opposition does not translate into abusive and irresponsible discourse. Irreverent gutter debates do not win votes nor mobilize people into the party. We must win the hearts and the minds of our people through superior arguments and through superior vision.
We must work hard with strong convictions and believable appeal.
We must begin that critical task now. Ours is a rescue mission. We dare not fail again. We must commit all available resources into the great mission ahead.
The time is short. The road is rough and long. But the duty must be done.
This is the time we need the voice of reason and not the noise of anger. This is the time we need the symbol of hope and unity. This is the time we must discard the portrait of deceit and blatant opportunism. This is the time we need a symbol of conscience. This is the time we need a symbol of redemption and renewal. This is the time we need a good and valuable leadership that can stay the course, that can take the heat.
This mission must start now. This duty must begin at once without hesitation. This new beginning requires all our collective efforts to succeed. And by the grace of Almighty God, we will succeed.
In conclusion, I want to state here and now that I am not hustling for any position. I believe in service and sacrifice. I bear no animosity towards anyone. I bear no grudge nor envy. But i believe in the purity of the due process. We must obey the rules. We cannot build on falsehoods. We must respect the constitution.
This is the only way our party can be strong and viable. This is the only way our democracy can endure.
May the good Lord Bless you all.
Chief Olabode George
Atona Odua of Yorubaland
Saturday April 16, 2016