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Settle rift, S/S leaders urge Jonathan, govs

Clark says Jonathan has no evil plan
By Emma Amaize
WARRI— AS South-South governors get set to meet in Benin City, Friday, to take a common stand on the inauguration of the Vice President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as Acting President, some South-South elders and leaders have urged the governors and vice president to quickly resolve their rift and work harmoniously in the interest of the region.

Vanguard reported exclusively, yesterday, that the governors would meet on Friday in Edo State to parley on the state of the nation. Information at our disposal, last night, however, indicated that they have been inundated with appeals by South-South leaders and concerned citizens to bury the hatchet.

Two of the governors, in exclusive interviews, weekend, said their cold attitude towards Dr. Jonathan all this while was because of their information  that he was already working with their opponents to abort their second term tickets in their respective states, stressing that supporting him to be acting president would tantamount to empowering him to “finish us politically.”

Chief Edwin Clark

One of the elders who spoke to Vanguard, yesterday said: “Yes, I am aware that some people have spoken to the governors after they read the Sunday Vanguard story on why they have kept away from Jonathan. Whatever is the problem, we are saying that they should settle it and not let it affect the region.”

However, Chairman of the South-South Elders and Leaders Forum, Chief Edwin Clark who was contacted by Vanguard on the misunderstanding between the governors and the vice president said the governors were misreading the intention of the vice president, as he had no plans to deny them second-term tickets.

A conflict management expert in the Niger Delta, Prince Clement Bebenimibo said, “I advise the vice president to call the governors and dialogue with them. The fear of the unseen is in the minds of everybody and to manage the situation, he should call them as brothers to discuss the matter.”

Bebenimibo said the South-South governors have to support the vice president more than any other group, adding, “They should not drag their feet in any manner. The vice president knows the problem of the Niger Delta and the governors know it too, collectively, they can tackle it and this is the best time for them do so.”

On his part, one-time commissioner, Dr. Richard Tosanwumi felt there was no need to beg the governors, saying, “South-South governors must stop confronting the vice president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. We know that they are primarily interested in their selfish whims and caprices, rather than concentrating on providing good governance in their states, which some of them have failed woefully to do.

“They gallivant across the country and the globe wasting our money enjoying themselves without benefit to the people they are supposed to govern. We shall hold them responsible if Jonathan is not made acting president and they will face our wrath. We have had enough of overbearing, arrogant and dismissive actions and arrant betrayal from these myopic and greedy governors who treat us with impunity and levity as if we are their slaves.”

Facilitator of the Niger Delta Democratic Union, Dr. Akpo Mudiaga-Odje urged caution on the part of the vice president and the governors and urged the elders/leaders of the zone to play a mediatory role, while all hands must be on deck to ensure that the law, which stipulated that the president should handover to the vice president when he is absent was obeyed.

Asked if any of the governors called him to lodge complaint, Chief Clark said, “None has called me and the governor of my state, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan came to see me few days ago here in Abuja.”

He added: “But, I can tell you that the vice president would not work against the re-election of the governors, he has not told me that and so, the governors should stop acting wickedly and support him.”

Chief Clark said so many things have been said about the vice president being against Governor Timipre Sylva, and noted, “it’s is not true” adding that when Sylva’s election was nullified, sometime ago, the vice president  mobilized and came down to Bayelsa and also brought the governor’s opponents to campaign for him.

He said the vice president told him that the party set a precedent in Kogi State by giving preference to incumbent governors to be the party’s standard bearers and there was no way the decision would be changed in the case of Sylva and any governor saying Jonathan was working against their re-election was not being fair to him.

Would he prevail on Dr. Jonathan to invite the governors and explain his position to them, he said there was no need for him to do that because he knew that the vice president does not have such an agenda, adding, “He will be the last person to work against the interest of any South-South governor.”

Clark, on the other hand, said that if any of the South-South governors briefed him on the matter, he would convey it to the vice president and urge him to call them and iron out the matter.

He said he was aware that Dr. Jonathan was having a good relationship with the governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan and wondered why anybody would say that the vice president did not like the governors of the South-South.

The South-South leader recalled that Dr. Jonathan called him sometime ago to tell him that he would want him to work with Governor Uduaghan and he told the VP he had no personal problem with Uduaghan.

Clark said: “Uduaghan was in my house here in Abuja two days ago, the former governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former commissioner in Delta State, Wing Commander P. Biakpara and others were here. He came here after we broke our fast, we were all together, and what I told Jonathan was that Uduaghan should create political space for the people in PDP who were fighting the injustice in the state with me.

We are all Deltans and we are entitled to political positions in our state, it’s not about me. I have my people, we cannot be fighting for political space in Nigeria and we don’t have political space at home, so that is the position.”

Anenih is theproblem

He said the person who is causing the problem in the zone at the moment is the former Minister of Works and Housing, Chief Tony Anenih, who is claiming to be the leader of the South-South, asking, “Who made Anenih the leader of the South-South when people like us are there.

“They have been meeting and doing things that are against the interest of the South-South and I wonder why they are doing so. Was it not in Calabar in 2005 that we declared that we want the South-South to produce a president, why are they working against it, what has happened for us to change the position.

I am not against President Umaru Yar’Adua, he is my son, he writes me a letter and ends it with, ‘Your son’. He and Jonathan are my sons and I cannot wish my son bad. What we are saying and what we have said is that since he and Jonathan were elected on the same platform as president and vice president and if for any reason, he is not healthy enough or is absent, his deputy will function as the acting president, that is what the constitution says and we have to follow it.”

The former Federal Commissioner for Information said he was surprised that Chief Anenih would allow his quarrel with former President Olusegun Obasanjo over the chairmanship of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the party to affect the inauguration of Dr. Jonathan as acting president, adding, “And we know what they are doing to stop the emergence of Jonathan as acting president.”

Jonathan not Obasanjo’s boy

He dismissed the contention that Dr. Jonathan was Obasanjo’s boy, pointing out that those who were saying that Obasanjo nominated Jonathan to be Yar’Adua’s deputy forgot that Obasanjo’s hands were in practically everything, from the picking of President Umaru Yar’Adua to the Senate President, Senator David Mark.

According to him, “Dr. Jonathan is an independent person, he has a mind of his own, and you can see it from some of his actions so far. People should stop castigating him for nothing. In any case, they will fail”.


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