RIGHT OF REPLY
OCHEREOME Nnanna’s write-up on Dr. E.K Clark published on page 48 of the Vanguard newspaper of Monday February 17, 2014 seem to fall into the category of the usual puerile, derogatory piece by some critics who delight in castigating the elder stateman for supporting President Goodluck Jonathan.
The intention of such critics is to get at the President whom they hate for ethnic and religious reasons. These critics are without a voice of their own, but good in blackmail for political reasons. They are moles, sycophants, with a price tag to attack the President and Chief Clark.
The blackmail campaign has been on since 2010, without regard to Chief Clark’s age and the office the President occupies. The reason borders on the hatred they have for Clark and the President as Ijaws, an ethnic nationality many chauvinists are uncomfortable with. Nnanna referred to Clark’s marriage in his odyssey but what has Clark’s marriage got to do with President Jonathan? These provocative but sarcastic insults to defame the political records of Clark are unmerited.
Any Nigerian who reads these blackmails will see a correlation between the Nnanna piece and others. Raymond Dokpesi’s AIT in a vengeful exercise took 20 minutes on Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th February, 2014 to castigate Chief Clark and concluded that he is an ethnic bigot who is more of a burden than an asset to the President’s aspiration.
After reading Nnanna’s position on Clark, I was filled with sadness and disbelief, as he descended so low to embrace bats who don’t see good in President Jonathan and Dr Clark. This was the same Clark who stood by Gen. Yakubu Gowon in his travails, ex-President Shehu Shagari and the late President Musa Yar’Adua who were not Ijaws of South-South origin. So, why should Jonathan’s own fan ethnic colouration?
Despite these derogatory and provocative campaigns of calumny against Clark, he remains resolute, steadfast and committed to building a society based on equity and Justice. Clark will continue to stand tall above political bitterness and divide. Nnanna insulted Clark’s age and service to Nigeria when he said “they are supposed to have vacated the stage for the generation of today to tackle today’s challenges with the vision and vigour of today’s people”.
Unknowingly, Nnanna is ignorant of Clark’s contributions to youth development. Nnanna words are contradictions of our values because a society without the wisdom of elders is doomed; the society under sole leadership of youth Nnanna is advocating can only end up in chaos and anarchy.
Nnanna should not blame the failure of his generation on personalities like Clark. Clark, as a youth, never blackmailed anyone to climb to the pinnacle of leadership because excellence cannot be bought through blackmail. Many youths who are excelling today see Clark as a model of emulation and their hero. In most societies, leaders of Clark’s pedigree are celebrated and idolised but Nnanna’s “younger generation” despises them.
Obafemi Awolowo, a Yoruba leader; Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Igbo leader and Ahmadu Bello, a Hausa/Fulani leader were respected by all, including the younger generation. Today the South-South leadership is bestowed on Clark by merit. Clark’s Doctor of Philosophy, PhD, is merited and cannot be synonymous with the “Pull Him down PHD” syndrome of mischief makers. There is no dearth of academic laurels in Clark’s family and Nnanna could have, as a student or scholar, benefited from Clark’s family educational contributions to knowledge.
The language of blackmail employed to ridicule Clark “as a self-acclaimed Ijaw leader and professional agent provocateur” was provocative and reveal the poverty of ideas behind it. There is no Ijaw man living or dead who have laboured for the Ijaw nation as selflessly as Clark had done over the years. Clark in public and private never called himself Ijaw leader, but his people have in recognition of his accomplishments for them called him their leader.
Clark in his track records have treated every Nigerian equally without ethnic bias. What better qualification has Nnanna to question Clark’s electoral records? Apart from the Ijaws, the South-South, a home to different ethnic nationalities, call him leader because of his track records, character, commitment, which he employs to foster unity. In the 1995 constitutional conference, Clark was the leader of the South-South delegates, the support he received from South-South delegates was awesome. A tribal figure Nnanna portrayed could not have achieved this.
The Igbo sentiments Nnanna raised against Clark are conspiratorial theories. His activities during and after the Nigerian civil war, including his association with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe under the Zikist Movement of which he was the pioneer secretary in London 1957, revealed his love for the Igbo nation. Clark before and after the Nigerian civil war stood by the Igbos. For instance, when a debate was on whether an Igbo man could head NNPC and the debate was replicated in the cabinet meeting with Gen.
Gowon for decision to be taken, it was Clark who challenged the status quo and quipped: “We fought a war to unite Nigeria, if an Igbo man cannot be appointed to head the NNPC after your declaration of ‘no victor, no vanquished’, Your Excellency, why fight to unite the country? We should have let them to go”. This made General Gowon to give his approval. Clark has a school house named after him in Queens College Onitsha in recognition of his services to the Igbo during and after the Nigerian civil war.
Dr. Odili when he attended the Ohaneze Ndigbo meeting in the United States, publicly declared himself an Igbo man. This crisis of identity was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. How do you declare yourself an Igbo man of the South East and at the same time want to use the South-South to achieve your aim of Presidency?
This was what pulled the rug from the feet of Dokpesi’s SSPA and dimmed Odili’s aspiration which Nnanna attributed to Clark. Clark’s statements on Tinubu remains sacrosanct because Tinubu once called the President “a drunken fisherman” to desecrate the President’s background.
Tinubu should come out to contradict Clark’s claims and he will be surprised at evidences that will confront him. Nnanna’s Dokpesi never believed in our aspiration as a people and wanted to trade our agitation for self economic interest; the backing of Babangida when Jonathan was interested is a pointer, appointing such an individual as Chief of Staff to Jonathan is like putting a snake in one’s pocket.
These premeditated attacks will not deter Clark from standing up for truth and justice. The reference to Governor Uduaghan and James Ibori to score cheap points has been overtaken by events. Today there is no division in Delta State PDP chapter because Clark as an elder statesman has accepted forgiveness and reconciliation as a tool to development. The constant reference to Chief Clark’s marriage is a ploy to deplete his moral strength.
These premeditated attacks will not deter Clark from standing up for truth and justice. The reference to Governor Uduaghan and James Ibori to score cheap points has been overtaken by events. Today there is no division in Delta state PDP chapter because Clark as an elder statesman has accepted forgiveness and reconciliation as a tool to development.
The constant reference to Chief Clark’s marriage is a ploy to deplete his moral strength before hawks who have feasted on it to embarrass the elder statesman, but what is wrong for an 87 years virile old man to marry a woman who is a grand mother of 58 years old? The woman they tried to malign was a two time commissioner in Ogun State and a renowned medical practitioner.
Those who want to make an issue out of Clark’s marriage to Dr. Bisola Clark should search their conscience and stop been used for unmerited favours. It is true that Clark was elected a Senator in 1983 but ever since he has risen like a colossus as events had showed. Fifteen members of Delta state House of assembly, a senator and House of Reps member who were elected as D.P.P members were P.D.P members who left the party on Clark’s instruction. They came back to PDP when Clark reconciled with Governor Uduaghan. If Clark is irrelevant why still been courted?
The allegation that Clark has allocated to himself the booty of victory exists only in the imagination of Nnanna’s mind because President Goodluck Jonathan since 2011 has strictly adhered to federal character. Nnanna look bitter over Clark support for Jonathan’s ascendency and tried to foist ethnic sentiments to discredit facts. Critics of Jonathan are licking the wounds of what would have been their benefit if Odili had been choosen as late Yar’adua’s running mate then. Nnanna’s statement conjures another fallacy: “North wants to snatch their power back from Jonathan” Nnanna should know that sovereignty resides with Nigerians not in the north or south. Only Nigerians can decide the President’s fate.
Clark’s stand on national issues had been vindicated by law and the people’s opinion, he understands the danger of corruption to any society and if others justify corruption by name calling, Clark will not. The insinuation that Raymond Dokpesi was been considered for Chief of staff was planted by his renegades to sell him inorder to have a footage in the Presidency. The President or Clark never appropriated every political office to his Ijaw people, the facts are clear, to blackmail the President from helping his South-South People who are gravely marginalized even though they have the Presidency. Ochereoma Nnanna failed in this mischief and blackmail, he need to know Clark and what he stands for.
*Mr. PRINCE ABUGO is Media Assistant to Chief E.K. Clark.