…Says there will be no Nigeria if 2019 polls are scuttled
By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA-Elder statesman and prominent Niger Delta leader, Pa Edwin Clark has said Nigerians of South and Middle Belt extractions would not rally behind any Presidential candidate who does not believe in the restructuring of the Nigerian state in the 2019 general elections.
Clark who stated this while playing host to members of the National Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, ex- Councillors Forum at the weekend at his Asokoro, Abuja residence also bemoaned what he called the prevailing tribal colouration in the appointments made by President Muhammadu Buhari since his assumption of office in 2015.
According to the nonagenarian, every hand must be on deck to rescue the country in 2019, adding that though, he retired from active politics a few years ago; he would do his part to ensure victory comes the way of the PDP in the next general election.
Recalling the events that trailed last week’s PDP convention in Port Harcourt, the Rivers state capital, the former Information Commissioner noted that Atiku Abubakar’s commitment to the ideals of restructuring dating to á few years back tilted the scale in his favour.
He said, “We from the South and the Middle Belt are saying we will never vote for anyone who does not believe in the restructuring of Nigeria. That was the secret behind Atiku success. All our people said Atiku was the man they wanted because he believes and preaches restructuring. When you restructured this country as it was in 1963, we will all be equal.
“We made many mistakes in 2015 but this year, we say no; we are not going to make mistakes. PDP alone had 12 Presidential aspirants and there were other parties that had four or five. And we thought if nothing was done to streamline the number, we would make the same mistake we made in 2015. So the Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum decided to interview each of the Presidential aspirants. Some of them were governors before, some Senators and Ministers. Each aspirant spent about two hours with us and in the end; we knew those who were going to be considered. We took the battle to Port Harcourt, and in Port Harcourt, we saw to it that the right person, who is going to be the President of Nigeria, emerged at that convention.
“At the end, the other 11 embraced and congratulated him, and they all agreed to work with him. Next year, we are going to succeed. This country belongs to all of us and no one has the right to rule it alone. If you are a Nigerian President, you must be President for everybody; not for your house or family alone and certainly not for your tribe alone. We have come to a stage where we should have someone who is very competent; somebody who has gone through the world and is known all over the places. We need a President who is a Nigerian-one who has respect for everybody.”
Faulting some key appointments made by President Buhari in the oil sector, Clark noted that such does not promote the inclusiveness Nigerians have been yearning for.
“I am from the Niger Delta, the South-South region of Nigeria, where about 90 per cent of the oil produced in this country comes from. The President of this country appointed 9 Directors of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the engine room of the oil industry. There is no reason whatsoever why the NNPC should not be in the Niger Delta but they put it in Abuja here. Of this 9 Directors, 6 are from the North including the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, one from the South West (it produce oil in Ondo), one from the South-South, and none to the South-East where they even produce oil in Abia and Imo states. Is that right?
“We have been kicking against this but they won’t listen. Worse still, they appointed 15 very senior managers of the NNPC recently, 10 of them from the North, three from the West, two from South-South and none from the South-East. Is that fair?
“Then they appointed 55 senior managers, 36 from the North, the remaining 17 from the whole of the South. That is not the Nigeria of our dreams. A Nigeria where some people are superior to the others is unacceptable. A Nigeria where some people are first class citizens while others are second class citizens is unacceptable. We don’t want to divide our country but if we don’t want to divide our country, let us be fair to one another. That you come from a particular area does not make you superior to the other man,” he added.
While noting that the South and Middle Belt were not against the aspiration of anyone, Clark however, warned of dire consequences should the 2019 elections fall short of credibility test, saying “We are not against anybody but Nigerians now want someone who is a Nigerian to be their President. Anybody who wants to scuttle the elections and who will prevent us from having free, fair and credible elections does not wish Nigeria well.
“There will be no Nigeria if they do it. They should lesson a lesson from what happened recently in Ekiti and Osun states. If they are thinking of such, then, they don’t wish Nigeria well.”
Spokesperson of the Forum, Honourable Sunday Yusuf Achor, earlier in his speech thanked the elder statesman for his services to the party and the nation, adding that his decision not to defect from the PDP after it lost power in 2015 prevailed about 70 per cent of members from ditching the party for alternative platforms.