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The PDP Thanksgiving For Bode George

MEDIA & SOCIETY: Bode George’s noisy return

Those who criticise the Peoples Democratic Party for rolling out the drums to welcome back Olabode George, commander of the Order of Niger, retired naval commodore, former chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority, and former deputy chairman, Peoples Democratic Party, on Saturday, need a lesson in the ways of Nigerian politicians.

It is not every day that a man goes to prison in Nigeria and comes back sixteen months after, looking so robust. The last time I checked a military vice president jailed by the dark goggled general never lived to tell the story. A former Head of State with a generous pouch who was also incarcerated by the taciturn general came out looking gaunt, his pouch so greatly reduced, that he evoked sympathy from those who saw him on television. So, why shouldn’t Bode George and his acolytes dance to throbbing drumbeats and trumpet fanfare of native music that his case turned out different?

On October 26, 2009 when Mr. George and five other directors of the NPA were convicted for abuse of office and disobeying a lawful order in their award of N100 billion contracts, the mood was dark and sombre. Many a party faithful feared he would slide into oblivion. But as last Saturday showed Mr. George’s leadership still shaped much of what went on in the PDP while imprisoned. So why would they not be joyful and celebrate his return?

Some even complained of obscene display of wealth- has Mr. George ever portrayed himself as poor? So why deny his rich friends the opportunity to roll out their glittering rides in a long motorcade from Kirikiri Prisons to the church to convey their love and support for a man of stature?

Being a man of the people, should Mr. George deny party supporters, friends and family the opportunity to don their specially branded shirts that proclaimed that he, “the Joseph of our time”, “the torchbearer of the West,” was out? Why should the PDP not tell the news on the streets of Lagos and publish it on the airwaves that George, the commander of loyal forces, the directing mind of Lagos politics, was out? It was all so touching and fitting for the flamboyant man. The surprise was that he did not ride in an open motorcade.

You see, it is no coincidence that President Goodluck Jonathan’s rally in Lagos came just three days after Mr. George’s release. Those who know about these things say it was timed to underscore the importance of Mr. George to resuscitating the fledgling fortunes of the PDP in Lagos.

And that is the point. It is not in the character of our politicians that Mr. George should have quietly walked out of the prison gates, remorseful about what took him there. Our politicians are forever looking for a platform to make a statement.

I have also heard of complaints that the church threw its doors so wide to welcome a convicted felon and his noisy party that all the church seats were taken, with many standing in and outside the church to witness the occasion. Did they not see the Ogun State gladiators Olusegun Obasanjo and Ogun State governor, Gbenga Daniel temporarily suspend their animosity in the House of the Lord?

Seriously, I think the critics miss it. Christianity preaches penitence and forgiveness. If George professes to have a change of heart and offers to come to church to thank God for his mercies, then the church is bound to welcome him.

If the church had fixed its eyes only on the offerings that would be collected during the service and had indulged in patronising comments, then it would have done grave disservice to the faith and the congregation. But that was not the case. We have the testimony of Sunday Punch that the preacher spoke truth to power.

“If you are involved in any shady deal; if you are found anywhere elections are rigged; and partake in any form of manipulation, it means you have not learnt anything from your experience. Real power belongs to God. It does not belong to PDP. It does belong to any president. As from today, you are expected to represent Christ. You are an ambassador of Christ. Never again will the name of God be soiled through you”.

In other words, the preacher confronted Mr. George about having soiled God’s name, telling him he was expected to turn a new leaf by recognising the limits of human power and not be involved in any manipulation as a born again ambassador of Christ.

How well Mr. George understands that is his challenge. But the truth is that the lure of the centre stage is so strong that he has already plunged into the battlefield. As he told journalists at his Ikoyi home:

“There is a job at hand for us to do and now is the time for us to win Lagos State with this kind of loyalty we have seen. President Goodluck Jonathan will be around on Tuesday, we have to cause Tsunami in Lagos so that other parties will get the jitters”.

Some things just never change in Nigerian politics.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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