In the hallowed tradition of Nigerian politics with its strict ethno-territorial delineation of the political “rights to eat”, Mr. George’s denunciation of Mr. Tinubu is not only an attack on corruption, it is also a protest against the effrontery of a man rumoured to be from Iragbiji in Osun State, to have “eaten” so well in Lagos.
Former Deputy National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party [PDP], Chief Olabode George has expressed solidarity with the #EndSARS protesters and criticized the infamous killings at the Lekki tollgate on October 20. He did this through a statement titled “The Anger and the Rage”.
He empathized with the agitating youths, saying their anger is owed to factors such as unemployment, hopelessness and neglect by the government. He had particular praise for the organization of the protests and the values of unity and honesty exhibited by the youth.
“They ate together. They slept on that cold asphalt both in the rain and in the searing Sun,” he wrote in his statement. “There were no discriminations. There were no quarrels of any kind. They raised their own money among themselves. And more importantly, they demonstrated admirable accountability that is lacking in the larger Society.
“They called themselves the Sọrọ Soke generation. They have spoken out loud and clear. Yes, we have heard them. And their brave deeds can never be forgotten.”
He further decried the state of political administration in Lagos with references to the corruption that has infected every aspect of power in the state, and he mostly had one person to blame for what he called the “Bullion Van Democracy”.
He wrote: “For 21 years the State has perfected the crude system of cronyism, nepotistic fixation and cultish largeness. The Godfather is the epochal overlord who rules over this system of greed and prebendal license where government is reduced to a mercenary spoil system distributed among relatives, cronies, the favorites of power and various loafers around the corridors of a mangled State”, an indirect reference to former Governor of Lagos State, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is sometimes referred to even in the international media as the Godfather of Lagos.
He however got more direct in his criticism of Tinubu when he noted that Alphabeta, a company mired in legal controversy, has pocketed 15% of Lagos State’s Internally Generated Revenue [IGR] since 1999. Owned by Tinubu, the company does not contribute any known revenue to the state’s economy and is, in the PDP chief’s words, “a mere sponging apparatus, siphoning trillions from our coffers every year.”
Describing him as “cruel, reprehensible and wicked” as well as a “transplanted Iragbiji native”, he accused Tinubu of turning the administration of Lagos into a personal fiefdom.
On the recent Lekki killings, he noted that the choice of the Lekki Toll Gate—which is allegedly owned by Tinubu—by the protesters is particularly symbolic as it represents the level of corruption that allows a private citizen to lay claim to state property without any consequences.
He advised that the two toll gates at Lekki be dismantled completely. This, of course, would be a major loss of revenue; the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge generates N300 million monthly, while the Lekki-Epe Expressway generates N500 million every month. But George argues that the loss of lives at the toll gates should necessitate the erection of a monument in its place to honor the young men and women who met their end due to the senseless bloodshed. And the financial losses would be a huge blow to Tinubu, who has supposedly been using the toll gates as his own personal cash cow.
He pressed the Tinubu family on their actions on the night of the Lekki massacre. Seyi Tinubu, the Asiwaju’s son, is the Chief Executive Officer [CEO] of Loatsad Promomedia Ltd, which owns the billboard placed at the tollgate. Just before the killings, the billboard went off, thereby killing the lights. This meant the army could operate in the dark without consequences. Seyi has denied any connections between the massacre and the shutting down of the billboard.
He faulted Tinubu’s response to the unfortunate killings, stating that the Lion of Bourdillion laughed and joked about the massacre and laid the blame on the victims. According to George, the former Lagos State governor was more concerned with consolidating his power and proclaiming himself as the Asiwaju and Jagaban of Lagos. He even went further to insinuate that Tinubu himself orchestrated the massacre, since the “Jagaban” clearly has the greatest interests in the continued functioning of the toll gate which had been generating no revenue since being shut down during the protests.
However, George did not just stop at the level of accusations. He called on the attention of the international community to make Tinubu face the music. George declared him a person of interest at the International Criminal Court at the Hague. He also demanded that the Lekki Concession Company be scrapped [even though Tinubu denies any connection to it], the advert signage monopoly in the state enjoyed by Seyi should be withdrawn and the Asiwaju’s daughter, Sade Tinubu, be relieved of her supposedly undeserved title of Iyaloja of Lagos.
Mr. Bode George himself was sentenced to a prison term over contract fraud while he was Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority. In the hallowed tradition of Nigerian politics with its strict ethno-territorial delineation of the political “rights to eat”, Mr. George’s denunciation of Mr. Tinubu is not only an attack on corruption, it is also a protest against the effrontery of a man rumoured to be from Iragbiji in Osun State, to have “eaten” so well in Lagos.
Investors in the Lekki-Epe toll road have been paid off by the state government in the run off to the 2015 elections in a bid to avoid raising toll fees in line with inflation as provided for in the concession agreement. Mr. Tinubu hence can no longer possibly still have shares in the operating company, the Lekki Concession Company, which essentially has become a government agency.