The Former National Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Chief Bode George has reflected on the ‘June 12’ crisis, saying that it rattled the military.
He lamented that the military made a mistake by dabbling into politics, which culminated into the controversial annulment.
George, a naval commodore, former military governor of Ondo State and Staff Officer in the office the former Chief of General Staff, Lt-Gen. Oladipo Diya, recalled that the June 12 debacle sowed seeds of discord in the military and the disunity led to the untimely retirement of many officers.
The PDP chieftain told reporters in Lagos that former President Olusegun Obasanjo could not take any position or action on the June 12 crisis as civilian leader in 1999 because of the charged atmosphere.
He said Obasanjo’s priority on assumption of office was the stabilisation of the polity, mounting strategies against coup and building of democratic institutions.
Reflecting on the criminal annulment of the historic poll won by the late Chief Moshood Abiola of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), he maintained that the soldiers in power bite more that they could chew.
He stressed: “The military was rattled by June 12. The military made a mistake by dabbling into politics. The unity of the service was nearly destroyed. Either directly or indirectly, some of us were fired because of statements made.
George recalled the two political parties-SDP and the National Republican Convention (NRC)-were government agencies, which threw up the two presidential candidates, adding that the parties were shaped by discipline.
Noting that the Federal Government has declared ‘June 12’ as ‘Democracy Day,’ he said nevertheless, May 29 will remain sacrosanct as the day of handover.
He added: “Have we learnt any lesson from June 12? May 29 is sacrosanct. What I will want to recognise about June 2 is the lesson to be learnt. Election will take place and it will become a case and the judiciary will decide. We should teach people to avoid the pitfalls of the past. The system of government as presently constituted is faulty. The system is unlike the military. It is from top to bottom. It cannot work.”
On why Obasanjo did not take action on June 12 in 1999, the PDP chieftain said: “Obasanjo wanted to stabilise the polity when he came. Obasanjo set up a cabinet that had a national outlook. The six topmost jobs, President, Vice President, Senate President, House of Representatives Speaker, Secretary to Federal Government and national chairman of the party were rotated, based on zoning. That gave the zones a sense of belonging. Obasanjo was preoccupied with stability.”
George called for true federalism, saying that the control of all resources, including Value Added Tax (VAT), by the Federal Government is wrong.”
He stressed: “Nigeria is still being run as if where in a military regime. What is the business of the Federal Government in the local government system? The Mayor of York City runs the port of New York. President Buhari should call for a National Town Hall Meeting; he could call all the tribes to Abuja and let their representatives be delegates to the meeting. Justice Kutigi presided well over the last National Conference in Abuja. Buhari should implement the 2014 Conference Report. Let everybody go back to their area and develop their area.”
George condemned the alleged humiliation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, by soldiers at the May 29 inauguration parade in Abuja.
He said: “The Commander of the Brigade of Guards erred. It was not a military parade. It was a political event. It will not happen if the PDP is in control. The military must be subjected to civilian authorities.”
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