By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North
ABUJA—Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, Wednesday, described the move by the Federal Government to set up a National Conference as the best decision so far taken by President Goodluck Jonathan since coming to power.
Clark, who spoke in an exclusive interview with Vanguard in Abuja, said that Mr. President had shamed his critics, who had dismissed him as someone without the political will to confront the nation’s woes.
The Ijaw leader, who is finalising the establishment of a Technology University in his Kiagbodo hometown in Delta State, told Vanguard that the National Dialogue would change everything in Nigeria and launch Nigeria into a new lease of life.
Clark said: “It (National Dialogue) will certainly change everything in Nigeria. I think that this the greatest thing Mr. President has done in Nigeria. People had been looking at him as one who does not have the courage to do certain things but today he has proved his critics wrong.
“Many heads of states, including military leaders, did not have the courage to establish a national conference. Some believed it would take away their powers, others thought it was a challenge to their administrations and therefore shied away from taking any action on national conference
The Ijaw leader challenged those opposed to the national conference to advance genuine reasons why they were against it and stop accusing Jonathan of hatching a hidden agenda.
While describing the antagonists of the dialogue as unpatriotic, the elder statesman wondered what they hope to achieve by shying away from a golden opportunity to discuss the issues affecting Nigeria and its people.
According to him, all right-thinking Nigerians were behind Jonathan on the account of his decision to provide a common platform for them do discuss the future of the country and bring about unity and development.
His words: “The people of Nigeria are solidly behind President Jonathan and if there is anything that has soared his rating, it is his announcement of a national conference. So, we support it. Let us sit down and discuss the basis of our existence as a country.
“We believe in one Nigeria but nobody was ever consulted when the amalgamation was done in 1914. So many things have happened and some of the people think that they are more superior to others while others feel inferior to others in their own country.
“We must therefore be bold enough to sit down and talk about revenue allocation and resource control. If I am not around others will bring them up. A situation where you have disparity in allocation of local governments and disparity in representation in the parliament not based on any known parameter, is quite unfair.”
Clark also scored Nigeria high on its 53 years as an independent nation, asserting that no African nation had fared better than the country.