By Henry Umoru
FORMER Federal Commissioner for Information and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari over comments that he established North-East Development Commission, NEDC, in appreciation of the zone’s massive electoral support to him in the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections.
Clark who described the statement as outrageous, unpatriotic, absurd, and mundane, wondered if the president wouldn’t have signed the NEDC bill into law if the zone did not vote for him.
He added that the statement reminds one of what the president said on July 2, 2015, at the United States Institute of Peace that those who gave him five per cent votes should not expect same with those who gave him 97 per cent.
The elder statesman, who accused the president of discrimination, however, disputed Buhari’s appropriation of the commission as his idea, saying that the 2014 Constitutional Conference, which reports the President has consigned to the archives, was indeed the originator of the NEDC idea.
Addressing journalists at his Asokoro residence, Abuja, the South-South leader, who accused presidential aides of advising Buhari wrongly, however, urged the president to know that he is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the President of all Nigerians, irrespective of the ruling party or the opposition, the President of Christians, Muslims, and Atheists among others.
Clark noted that the action and statements of the President might be responsible for why the Federal Government has failed to make advancement on projects in Niger Delta, including the Ogoniland clean-up and the East-West road.
The Ijaw leader said: “These statements credited to Mr President (in 2015 and presently in 2019) is politics taken to the mundane and absurdity, and very unpatriotic.
“Chapter VI, Section 130 of the 1999 Constitution states that: (1) There shall be for the Federation a President. (2) The President shall be the Head of State, the Chief Executive of the Federation and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation
“Section 132 (4) of the 1999 Constitution states that: “For the purpose of an election to the office of President, the whole of the Federation shall be regarded as one constituency. Therefore, for Mr President to base development of the country on political patronage, is most unfair and unacceptable.”
“If the President pronounces that the signing and inauguration of the North East Development Commission is a reward for the massive votes he got in the North East, let it, therefore, be likely concluded that negligence of his Government to the development of the Niger Delta region is as a result of the people of the region choosing to vote in accordance with their conscience.
“For instance, the non-commencement of the Ogoni clean-up and other equally damaged Oil and Gas producing areas, the non- completion of the East-West Road, and other long deprived economic activities of the region is a punishment for the people of the Niger-Delta for choosing to vote according to their conscience.
“This also can be attributed to Mr President’s refusal to dialogue or execute the South-South Leaders 16 point programme.
“We strongly therefore advise Mr. President not to abandon the goose that lays the golden egg, because, it is a case Mr President telling Nigerians that if the people of the North East had not voted for him massively he would not have signed the Bill for setting up of the NEDC and inaugurated the Commission.”