By Ibidapo Balogun
The recent unfortunate developments in Lagos and across the country call for deep reflection on the state of our nation. This time demands sobriety. Patriotic leaders need to put on their thinking caps and ponder on how we arrived at this sordid point and offer genuine solutions on the way forward. Many are still in shock at the horrendous mayhem and destruction wrought on public infrastructure and private properties. They are aghast as to how a correct and justifiable protest seeking a final end to the atrocities and brutalities committed against Nigerians by officers of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS) was hijacked by hoodlums and criminals who perpetrated indescribable arson, looting, and vandalism.
The magnitude of the mayhem and destruction witnessed has never been witnessed previously. It has been estimated that at least one trillion would be required to rebuild Lagos. And while the government and our people are seeking ways of putting a final closure to all that happened and thinking of how and when the critical task of re-orientation, rebuilding and reconstruction would begin, some have launched on their past-time once again: playing dirty politics with everything. They have begun playing politics with the lives lost and properties destroyed in the wake of the EndSARS protest. They are dancing on the graves of those who lost their lives and playing politics with monumental assets destroyed.
One of such shameless persons playing politics with the present crisis is Chief Olabode George, the controversial politician of Ogun descent, masquerading as a Lagos indigene. George is a complete failure to say the least. As a Naval Commodore, he was that military administrator of Ondo State who left behind no mark or monument as a mark of his contributions to the development of the state. He bequeathed no legacy on the state. Nothing to his credit but failure. Today, he is best remembered as the Chairman of the Nigeria Ports Authority who engaged in contract-splitting to beat government’s approval ceiling, an infraction that landed him in jail.
George, indeed, has some explaining to do about how he arrived at his stupendous wealth. How much was his salary in the Navy? How much was his allowance? How much is he receiving as pension? He is corruption personified. Wherever he has been engaged in, George has always promoted division and disharmony. As PDP Deputy National Chairman, South, his stewardship was inglorious. Now, shorn of that office, he has carried on in his known fashion, sponsoring divisions and knocking one party chieftain against another. So exasperated was former governor of Ekiti State and one of the leaders of the opposition PDP in the South-West, Mr. Ayo Fayose, that he openly declared that the PDP in the zone would know no peace until George is completely pushed out of the party.
George has made some accusations against Alpha Beta, the accounting firm engaged by Lagos State in the collection of its internal revenue. Though, I’m not here holding brief for Alpha Beta, which I believe is eminently qualifier to defend itself and its integrity, not a few, however, know that that company had demonstrated competence and added tremendous value to Lagos. It is an open secret that the state has recorded exponential increase in its IGR. It was because of Alpha Beta’s superb accomplishment that it was also contracted by other states across the country to replicate in their states the good job its doing in Lagos. The operations of Alpha Beta has been reviewed by such organizations like the World Bank and IMF and had been given a clean bill in the area of compliance with international best practices. Even the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has many times allegedly examined its books and reported to have passed the integrity test.
Again, and like a leopard who can hardly change its spots, diehard political opponent and envious George would never see anything good in the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, which is why he has linked the APC leader with the Lekki Concession Company and the alleged shooting of the protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza. Gladly and mercifully too, only on Wednesday the army spoke for the first time in an official statement on the #EndSARS protest, denying shooting at any civilian at the toll plaza. Some online purveyors of fake news and mischievous media organisations had gone to town with what they christened massacre of the protesters at the toll plaza.
As it has now turned out, all of that is a hoax. Most of those reported killed at the toll plaza are coming out to say they are indeed alive. In one instance, friends of some guys who died in an accident after they left Lekki Toll Plaza that fateful Tuesday October 20 and which death had been framed as part of that Black Tuesday shooting, came out openly to deny the lie and narrate how those youths met their untimely death. All the lies are falling flat one after another.
Asiwaju Tinubu has stated on record that he has no stake in LCC. The people who own the company involved in the public-private deal know themselves. Perhaps, Bode George is one of those feeding fat from the money being collected at the plaza. Is he not in league with the owners of LCC in their futile attempt to deflect attack over the LCC crisis? In his widely circulated statement, Asiwaju Tinubu has also said he had no hand in the deployment of soldiers at the toll plaza and did not order anyone’s shooting. For the life of me, the APC leader has no power to command a police post, talk less order the army to take over a crisis-point like Lekki Toll Plaza. Again, if he had such powers, many would ask why did he not deploy the army to defend his companies, The Nation Newspaper and TVC, both of which were burnt beyond recognition in the wake of the crisis?
George has also quite unfortunately always attacked President Buhari, the same man who retained his wife whom he inherited as DG NDLEA from former President Jonathan. A gregarious George would, however, not stop his nefarious agenda simply because Buhari helped him.
However, there is no point telling a blind man the market is over. When the noise of the market ends, he knows it’s time to return home. There is no need appealing to George to desist from his evil machinations against President Buhari and Asiwaju.
George has proven to be no match for the Asiwaju of Lagos. He has never succeeded against him before. He will not succeed at present, not today not tomorrow. A man who has not won even his ward at any election, Asiwaju and his associates have always defeated and dwarfed him. It’s time to permanently send him to political oblivion.
*Balogun is a social commentator based in Lagos.