Nigerian politics is a game of mudslinging, name-calling and other antics that can only be played by a few individuals with thick skin and unassailable characters who can navigate this morass of drama without slipping.
These select individuals are congenital politicians. They thrive in the stench of fermenting chaos and hurl relentless invective at each other.
No encounter has made this theory as clear as the protracted jibes of Bode George, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), against Bola Tinubu, a presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Their dislike for each other arose when Tinubu was still governor of Lagos and George was the most prominent voice in the state PDP and its direct opposition.
Over the years, George has never curbed his attacks on Tinubu. Although he repeatedly stressed that he had no personal problem with Tinubu, the PDP chieftain refused to stop his jibes, accusing the former Lagos governor of corruption during and after his tenure.
In 2015, before the presidential election, George promised to “go into exile” if the then newly formed APC came to power because Tinubu would “just order that I should be picked up.”
“If Bola Tinubu finds his way into the national government, I will go into exile. He has neither the boldness nor the composure he needs. They do not even know what to do in power.
Because the vice president is his boy, he will just order that Bode George be picked up,” he said.
The APC won the election, but he did not keep his promise.
In the run-up to the 2023 presidential election and the announcement of Tinubu’s ambitions, George has resumed his attacks on his longtime political opponent, repeatedly promising to leave Nigeria if he wins the seat of power in Aso Rock.
In the past two years, George has made this promise at least five times in various guises.
‘I’LL DUMP NIGERIA FOR TOGO’
In February 2020, when the presidential ambition of Tinubu had not been made public, Goerge, in a chat with PUNCH, attacked the idea. He described it as a “challenge” and the “most illogical and most disruptive issue”.
He then added that “I will disown Nigeria to take the citizenship of Togo or any other country” if Tinubu becomes the president.
“It is a challenge. It would be the most illogical and most disruptive issue to have him (Tinubu) elected as President. If this happens, I will disown Nigeria to take the citizenship of Togo or any other country,” he said.
“Look, what this fellow did in my state, all the lies and the most painful thing was that on the day of the election (2019 election), two bullion vans drove in the daylight to his house.”
‘I’LL CEASE TO BE NIGERIAN’
On May 7, 2021, during a chat with Arise TV, George echoed his stand that he will cease to be a Nigerian should Tinubu get the presidency.
He then called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate Tinubu’s tenure as Lagos governor and his alleged involvement with Alpha Beta Consulting, a tax firm.
“I’ve talked about it, and I’m still saying publicly that the EFCC should go urgently and investigate Alpha Beta Company owned by him,” he had said.
“We must make sure that they investigate him. He’s junketing all over the place—an insult to the civilised minds who work so hard in this country. If by whatever yardstick, he becomes the head of state, I will cease to be a Nigerian, and I’m not joking.”
‘I’LL RENOUNCE MY NIGERIAN CITIZENSHIP’
A couple of months later, George reaffirmed his promise again. In another chat with Arise TV, He said people pushing for Tinubu to emerge president in 2023 need medical examination, adding that he would rather cease to be a Nigerian than see Tinubu become the president.
“I will do whatever is necessary to review and renounce my citizenship if that happens. That kind of fellow? Do you think Lagos is better off? We live here. Look at the state. No drains. Look at what they put at the bar beach,” the PDP chieftain said.
“What is going on? This is my state. We have people who are former governors. If they’d behaved like what he is doing, they’d have been nothing to him.
“So, to have in my head that that kind of character is nominated to be Nigeria’s president… Please, go check all of them [Tinubu supporters]. Something is wrong with them.”
‘I’LL MOVE AWAY FROM NIGERIA’
In January 2022, after Tinubu had announced his presidential bid to the country, Bode went at him again. In a chat with Vanguard, he said Tinubu is “not the kind of person we can hand over this massive country to manage”.
“I will move away from Nigeria. I’ll leave because he will be your representative in the international plain. Which investment will he bring here? I am not talking because I have any hatred for him,” he said.
“This is not the kind of person we can hand over this massive country to manage. He will be the greatest joke on the international plane. We should bother who should lead us.”
‘I WON’T BE PART OF THIS COUNTRY’
At a press briefing on March 19, 2022, George reiterated that his promise to leave Nigeria if Tinubu becomes president is no joke. He said he’ll leave the country and “be watching with binoculars from afar”.
He accused Tinubu of nepotism while questioning the reverence of the APC chieftain.
“If by whatever chance he gets to the villa, I won’t be part of this country. And I am not joking. I can go to Ghana and be watching with binoculars from afar. You will see what will happen,” he said.
“His wife will now be senate president. His son will be Governor of Lagos. His daughter will be Iyaloja of Nigeria.
“What has he done to prove that he deserves to be honoured by anybody in this country?”