...human beings do not mean anything to people any longer
…What am I happy for? That is why I said the country is going beyond my control.
...I do not want to celebrate my 95th birthday, I am not a happy man.
….In the 2023 Elections, I don’t know the future, I don’t know where we are going to
By Henry Umoru, ABUJA
FORMER Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark who turned 95 years yesterday, said that he could not celebrate his birthday in a colorful way because of the state of the country where human lives no longer mean anything to some people, with massive killing, kidnapping and wanton destruction of property across the country by Terrorists.
According to Clark, there was no way for him to roll out the drums to mark his 95th birthday except to remain indoors with family members, friends, and close associates because Nigeria at the moment was not what he grew up to meet and what our founding fathers left behind against the backdrop that the country has become more divided over than before with lack of unity, with injustice, lack of fairness and absence of equity.
Speaking with Vanguard yesterday at his Asokoro residence shortly after he received a birthday card from the Afenifere Socio-Cultural group signed by its leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, and the Deputy Leader, Oba Oladipo Olator, Chief Clark who is the leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Forum, SMBLF, said that we need a country where the Yorubas, the Fulanis, the Igbos, the South-South, the Northerners, others will know that they cannot work and achieve things alone as we must strive to work together in unison as one nation.
The Card was presented to the Elderstatesman on behalf of Afenifere by Chief Supo Shonibare.
Speaking further, Clark who called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency convene a town hall meeting where Stakeholders would converge and brainstorm on Nigeria as a country and the way forward to the nation’s problems, just as he reiterated his call for urgent restructuring of the country to nip in the bud the spate of secessionist agitations in the country before the general elections, expressing fears that on next year’s elections, the future is bleak as he does not know where Nigeria shall be going from its present position.
He called on Nigeria to revisit the report of the 2014 Constitution Conference of Governor Nasir El- Rufai’s report on the recommendations to get the country right.
According to the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the agitation for self-determination and secessions will definitely increase, the security situation of the country worsened, and the conduct of the 2023 general and presidential elections will be threatened, if the country is not restructured.
He repeated his call on the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC and others must zone their Presidential tickets to the South, saying that the zone will not settle for a Vice Presidential slot, just as he warned that the South will not vote for any Northern candidate during the 2023 Presidential election.
The South-South leader who vowed that he will not change in his position of speaking out against injustice, marginalization, and lack of equity, thanked God, Almighty for taking him this far and keeping him alive.
Clark said, “At 95, I should be a very happy man, but unfortunately, the state of the nation whereby so many people are dying every day, people are buried in hospitals everywhere, what value is that? Can you imagine the situation whereby a train leaving Abuja for Kaduna got attacked, bombed and people were held hostages for almost 60 days now, they are still there? What is going on in this country? There is a woman who delivered, pregnant women held, nobody cares.
“Over 60 Nigerians. Where is that bush that is too difficult for our security people to go into? When you look at bombings, killings in the North, in the South-East, and everywhere, what am I going to celebrate? What am I happy for? That is why I said the country is going beyond my control. I do not want to celebrate my 95th birthday, I am not a happy man.
“At my age, I came about 70 years to the services of Nigeria. A Nigeria where people are dying, nobody cares, a Nigeria where anybody can do whatever he likes, there is no more law and order. A Nigeria where someone who has no means, just because he is a Minister, just because he is a party man could bring out 100 million naira and waste it away all in the name of wanting to be President of Nigeria, things are going on.
“One is very unhappy for the country that I am today living to see at the age of 95, a big difference from the Nigeria I knew 70 years ago. So, as far as I am concerned, I am a very unhappy man, but I pray that the leader Nigeria needs very badly will definitely emerge to save Nigeria from this storm.
“We need each other in this country, we need ourselves, we need Nigerians to trust themselves, we need Nigerians to love themselves, we have no other country to go to. Before Lord Lugard came, Nigerians were living in their various parts of this country happily, without nobody controlling them.
“They were having their government as their own, but in 1914, Lugard said that he wanted a bigger country and joined us together, no conditions or terms that one group will be superior to the other, there was nothing like that, he made us equal, in fact one part of the country was poorer than the other, and this was part of the things that Lugard wanted to correct, one part of the country was larger than the other, but today, we are being told of population increase in the North, an Arid land, they are now having multiple populations than the South where you have all the ingredients of massive population growth.
” So, I will love a country where the North and the South operate inequality, no one is superior to the other, no one has the power to arrogantly tell other parts of the country, you can leave the country as if they are the owners of the country.
“So many things have happened, a situation where anybody can just get up that he wants to be President of Nigeria, I pray that God will give us a leader who will guide us from the position we are to lift us from poverty. Today, we have been told that we are the capital of poverty in the world, these are temporary positions. We want a leader who will use the resources of this country, the manpower available in this country, and somebody that will make Nigeria great. Nigeria can be great again.
“Well, I don’t know the future, I don’t know where we are going with the present constitution of Nigeria as regards election brokers, leaders, and apparatus. That is why, Nigerians believe that within the next year, let us carry out some changes in this country with subtraction.
“There is a report of 2014, there is El-Rufai’s report, the president should be bold enough that all is not well in this country, therefore call a town hall meeting, a meeting of leaders. Nigerians are prepared to go with the El-Rufai’s report, nobody worries about the 2014 report, even Buhari doesn’t want it, but if the APC, which is the party ruling this country produces a report, accepted by the National Representatives and Nigerians have seen it that it is very close to the 2014 report, we are ready to go with that.
“One, because I don’t think see any future in the elections of 2014 because the conditions under which the election will be held successfully no longer exist. We believe in it and if we don’t rethink the position of the Presidency and zone it to the South, we won’t support anybody or any candidate from the North, and if we do not, he will not succeed, we need each other, the North alone cannot produce a President, the South alone cannot produce a President, so we are not very sure of the future of the election in this country. Any attempt for the North to separate the South will be legally resisted.”