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Chief Edwin Clark: Celebrating a Nigerian treasure at 86

By Felix Ayanruoh
It was a calm Sunday morning in northwest London, having breakfast with Chief E.K. Clark (Daddy) and his beautiful and caring wife Dr. (Mrs.) Bisola Clark (Mommy) just a few weeks ago, and I’ve seldom had more fun while talking about so many matters that were unreservedly pleasant and unpleasant: Family, Politics, Boko Haram, and the need for a united Nigeria.

Daddy, one of Nigeria’s great good men, could talk about all of that and more without losing his candidness and sense of humor. He is an historian sometimes with a big, engaging smile that seemed ever-present and other times with seriousness. His greatest concerns are with the moral corruption brought on by veering one’s ideals to societal pressure, buying into the values of a group when they conflict with the voice of personal conscience.

The elder statesman is troubled by the present state of our politics and the grab all syndrome, but undaunted. If there is going to be change, indubitable change, he said, “It will have to be from self decency and the spirit of brotherliness. That’s how change happens.” His modest rented apartment will tell you the caliber of this humble man. One will assume that Chief E.K Clark would own several palatable homes abroad.

Papa Clark is an unbelievably decent man who felt obliged to challenge injustice and unfairness wherever he found it. He once said, “…and it has remained a guiding principle, is that, when you are 70 years and over, you are at the departure lounge awaiting your boarding pass. Therefore, you should be courageous enough to speak the truth and condemn all that is evil.” He is not afraid to say what he wants to say, against the backdrop corruption and injustice. He is often taken to task for peeling back the rosy veneer of much of Nigerian history to reveal sordid realities that had remained hidden for too long.

Papa as some call him would protest peacefully for important issues he believed in – against corruption, oppression, equality, and fairness among others. He is a man of exceptionally strong character. He was born on May 25th 1932 in Eriawvarien in the present Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State by the late Chief Bekederemo Clark of Kiagbodo (Burutu Local government Area).

Chief Clark’s affection for our country developed over time, who as a young man worked hard as a headmaster and community development office contributing to the development of education and the mobilization of the people for community development. He has held various local regional and national positions, including commissioner for Education, Finance and Establishment, Federal Minister for Information and National Orientation, and Senator among others. Also, he is senior colleague at the bar; an alumnus at the Holbom College of Law, London, who was later, called to the Bar in England as a member of the Honorable Society of the Inner Temple and as solicitor and advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

The devotion of his life to total service and the cause of the minority tribes are legendary. Today, anyone who doubts the ability of Papa Clark in leading and influencing a fair and egalitarian Nigeria should look back at our challenges and renewed confidence in the eyes of that young boy from otukpo in Benue State or girl from Jeddo in Delta State. I will end with the words of scripture – “I will satisfy him with a long life and show him my salvation,” (Psalm 91:16).

 


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