By Bolaji Buhari
Chief Olabode George, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), faulted calls by some politicians on President Mohammed Buhari to resign over his ill-health.
George faulted the calls while speaking with some journalists in Lagos, describing them as wrong and inflammatory.
He said it was inhumane of anyone to pressure the president to step down from office just because he was having some health challenges.
George pointed out that it was only the president and his managers who could decide when he was incapacitated, adding those making the calls are taking politics too far.
He said though he had always been in different camps with the president, he was always praying for his quick recovery, urging all Nigerians, irrespective of political allegiance, to do the same.
“You see, I don’t support the call by some people that the president should resign because of his health.
“Even though I have always been on different camps with the president, I do not think it is right for anybody to have evil thoughts towards him.
“He is ill and we can only wish him good health and pray for him; calling him to resign because of this is getting beyond politics. He is a human being and only God knows the appointed time for everyone.
“The holy book says we should always pray for people in authority; I think the president deserves everyone’s prayers, not comments that could even outrage some people and create unnecessary tension, “he said
According to the former military administrator of Ondo State, Nigeria is experiencing some challenges which require everyone to join hands to overcome.
He said the predilection of some people to make inflammatory comments along ethnic and religious sentiments would escalate the tension in the land.
While saying people have the right to speak up against marginalisation by the Nigerian state, he said such agitations should not be fashioned in a way that suggested secession.
George said as a statesman, who had an unwavering belief in the non-negotiability of the unity of Nigeria, he would never support the disintegration of the country.
He decried the falling nationalism and patriotism among Nigerians, which he said was making people identify more with tribes and religion rather than the country.
The PDP chieftain said it was unfortunate that the good idea of restructuring was being given all sorts of colourations to suit ethnic and regional sentiments.
He said the only form of restructuring that he would support is the one that would make the centre unattractive and empower states to develop faster.
George said it made no sense to have all the resources at the centre while states came cap in hand all the time for federal allocation.
“People talk of restructuring to mean let everyone go on his way, let the country break and all of that. That to me is not the idea of restructuring.
“The restructuring that was approved at the last national conference, which I think is the right thing, is to make the centre less strong and make the states stronger.
“A restructuring that will empower the states to control resources and give like 30 per cent to the centre.
“That is the restructuring we are talking about. The form that will accelerate the development of the states, which in turn will fast track national development,” he said.
On the crisis in the PDP, George said the party was having some challenges at the moment, but expressed the optimism that the party would overcome its problems and come back stronger.
He said people saying that PDP would die were missing the point as the party was laid on a very strong foundation that could last for so long.
George explained that the PDP was created for the unity and prosperity of the nation by its founding fathers and its national spread would make it stand the test of time.
He dismissed rumours that he would soon dump the PDP for the All Progressives Congress (APC), saying he would rather quit politics instead of going to APC.
The PDP chieftain expressed disappointment over the defection of some party members at the trying period, and said their action meant they were not committed in the first place.
“I am disappointed at those leaving this party at this time. As for me, I would rather quit than defect. Whoever is saying I plan to defect to APC is lying. I am not a chameleon. I do my things straight. I can never go to APC,” he said.
George said the crisis in party had put it in quagmire as it prepared for July 22council polls in Lagos.
He said he hoped the same fate that befell the party at the Benue State council polls where APC had an easy win as a result of infighting in PDP would not occur in Lagos polls.
According to him, the party is earnestly waiting for the Supreme Court judgement on Ali-Modu Sherriff and Ahmed Makarfi case, as it is important its future.
He said his commendation of Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos was borne out of the acknowledgement of his successes in infrastructural development in the state.
George, however, said the PDP would give him a good run for his money in 2019, as it would present a seasoned candidate who would outperform him.
He said it was worth it to celebrate Lagos at 50, but said visionary leadership and commitment was required to push the state to an enviable level of development within the next 50years. (NAN)