January 4, 2023

Presidency: Clark, Ortom endorse Peter Obi

Presidency: Clark, Ortom endorse Peter Obi

By Henry Umoru, Omeiza Ajayi, John Alechenu & Peter Duru, ABUJA

FORMER Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, and Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, have endorsed the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr Peter Obi, for next month’s election.

Coming two days after former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of Obi, the elder statesman said with the former Anambra State governor as president, the country would be more united.

Clark spoke as Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, who is one of the five aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors, okayed Obasanjo’s endorsement of Obi, saying the LP presidential standard bearer was the right choice for Nigeria.
This was as the All Progressives Congress, Presidential Campaign Council, APC PCC, said Clark’s backing of Obi had no effect on its candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Why I endorsed Obi – Clark

Clark said he was throwing his weight behind Obi because the next president of Nigeria must be educated and experienced.
According to him, an Obi Presidency would also give sense of equity that would pull the South-East as an equal partner in the polity.

The National Leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, said that the time had come for someone from the South-East geo- political zone to lead the country because the zone has resourceful and educated people to govern Nigeria.
Addressing newsmen at his Asokoro, Abuja residence, yesterday, Clark, who doubles as the leader of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, also urged the youths not to allow anyone bribe them saying Nigerians needed a transparent president, who is strong, healthy and had every leadership quality Nigerians want.

Clark said: “They want to use you (youths). Don’t allow anybody to bribe you. We want a transparent president, a president, who is strong, a president, who is educated, a president who is one body, a president, who has every leadership quality that we want. We don’t want a president we have to beg to sit down, to find out whether he will fall or stand.
“We want a president we should not be doubting his age. We don’t want a president who will be changing every year how old he is.”

Begs ethnic, religious, political groups to support Obi

The elder statesman and Ijaw leader also called on all Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic, religious and even political backgrounds, to vote for Peter Obi without hesitation, as he is the nation’s best hope of a new Nigeria of peace, stability and progress.

Clark explained that he was backing Obi for next president of Nigeria because of his restated commitment to restructuring and devolution of power that would promote harmony, peaceful co-existence among the states as well as constituent parts of the country.

According to him, he is also backing Obi because of his vision for more equity and justice as it pertains to the South-South, which in the past 60 years has produced much of the revenue for the national economy but has been neglected with little impact in terms of infrastructure and social development.

In his speech, titled: “Peter Obi, my Choice for the 2023 Presidential election,” Clark, disclosed that on his directive, the national leadership of PANDEF met with Obi in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Friday December 23, 2022, where after discussions, Obi met the expectations of the group and Niger-Delta.

His words: “I have since been fully briefed on the successful outcome of the interaction held at that occasion. Among other things, I have taken note of the following observations, which came out of the meeting: That PANDEF presented the expectations and demands of the peoples of the Niger-Delta, comprising infrastructural development, devolution of power, resource control, effective and inclusive participation in the oil and gas sector, among other things, to the presidential candidate.

“That the vision statement shared by Peter Obi on the occasion, as it relates to making Nigeria more productive, using the rich resource endowment in every part of the country; curbing waste and fighting corruption and creating jobs for our teeming youths through innovative initiatives is very commendable.

“That his restated commitment to restructuring and devolution of power will promote harmony, and peaceful co-existence among the states and constituent parts of the country.

“His vision for more equity and justice as it pertains to the South-South region, which in the past 60 years has produced much of the revenue for the national economy, but has been neglected with little impact in terms of infrastructure and social development, is convincing and commendable.

“Peter Obi’s commitment to environmental justice and the clean up of the Niger Delta’s polluted communities is most welcome, given that even the ongoing Ogoni clean-up has been rather slow.

“His commitment to the inclusion of qualified persons from the Niger Delta in the national governance process in the future government, if elected into power, is very reassuring.

“And that Peter Obi’s unwavering commitment to reactivation of our ports, development of Blue Economy and maritime sector, and investment in gas sector, developing of modular refineries, are worthy of note.

“Arising from the above and taking into account the following factors, which I hold very dearly at my age of over 95 years, I restate as follows: Nigeria must remain a country where all citizens should be given free and unfettered opportunities for national service, even at the level of the highest office, the Presidency of our land.

“That there should be no second-class citizens in this country, all Nigerians must be treated equitably and fairly.
“Nigeria must be a country where her citizen has the right to hold free, fair and credible elections devoid of ‘big money’ and any form of intimidation undue influence and compromises.

“The youths would be the greatest beneficiary of Mr Peter Obi’s presidential election victory because no previous government has thought of their interest. Nigeria is one of the most uneducated countries in the world, it is the world’s poverty capital. Mr. Peter Obi’s election will definitely take care of the presidency of Nigeria by rotation, because Nigeria does not belong to one religion, region, etc.

“That those who aspire to rule Nigeria must have a good education, transparency and well-articulated vision for moving the country forward.

“The decision of the leaders of Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum, which I also lead, that the Northern part of the country as represented by President Muhammadu Buhari, which would have completed full eight years as President by May 29, 2023, should yield power to candidates from the South for purpose of unity, equity and fair play.

“That the South-East geo-political zone, which has not produced any elected President of this country since after the First Republic, and particularly during this Fourth Republic should be given the opportunity to produce the next President of Nigeria given that the zone has the capacity to present highly competent and qualified persons, for the office.

“That this will bring to practical expression the commitment of the General Yakubu Gowon-led Federal Military Government of ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’, a dictum, at the end of the Nigeria Civil War in 1970. This was where General Yakubu Gowon directed my former boss and Military Governor of defunct Midwest State, Col. S.O. Ogbemudia to canvass for reconciliation, re-integration, rehabilitation and reconstruction of every section of the country, while I, as Commissioner for Education was saddled with the responsibility of playing critical role in the implementation of this policies.

“And that given his sound educational background, distinguished antecedent in professional life and track record as one of the most outstanding Governors this country has ever produced during his tenure in Anambra State, and his vision for the country and the Niger-Delta in particular, Peter Obi is eminently qualified to lead this country as President.

“Taking all these factors into consideration, and putting Peter Obi side by side with all other candidates being presented by other political parties, I am convinced beyond doubt, that our country Nigeria has a great opportunity to elect a phenomenal team, the candidate of the Labour Party, and his Deputy, Senator Datti Baba-Ahmad, as President and Vice President respectively.

“I formally hereby announce that I will, therefore, personally vote for Peter Obi and his Vice Presidential candidate on election day, February 25, 2023, as President and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“I have also requested the leadership of PANDEF, as a democratic institution and all other socio-cultural and socio-political bodies, which I head to consult with their members at the levels of the states, local governments and Diaspora to take further steps in supporting my choice of Peter Obi.

“I also call on all well-meaningNigerians irrespective of ethnic, religious and even political backgrounds to vote for Peter Obi without hesitation, as he is our best hope of a new Nigeria of peace, stability and progress.”

Ortom backs Obasanjo, says Obi’s right choice for Nigeria

On his part, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State, who is contesting for a senatorial seat on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, threw his weight behind Obasanjo’s endorsement of Obi as the right candidate to provide the leadership they earnestly yearn for.

He maintained that if he was not a member of the PDP, he would have personally led Obi’s campaign across the country.

The governor in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Terver Akase, also recommended Mr. Obi to Nigerians “as the man, who has the capacity to effectively tackle the economic, security and other challenges facing the country.”

According to Akase, “the governor (Ortom) is convinced that Obi possesses the qualities of a leader, who will be a true president of this country by guaranteeing justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians.

“The governor stresses that for some years, the country has been tottering on the verge of collapse, owing to leadership failure and its attendant consequences of poverty, heightened insecurity with banditry, kidnappings and other acts of terrorism threatening the very foundations of the nation.

“He says the president that Nigeria needs at this challenging time in the country’s history is one who understands the urgent need to unite the people and speedily initiate policies and actions to redirect the ship of the nation on the path of growth and development and emphasizes that Peter Obi has all such qualities.

“Governor Ortom lauds Chief Obasanjo for once again demonstrating objectivity, truth and patriotism as a statesman whose views on national issues must be taken seriously.”

LP welcomes Clark’s endorsement of Obi-Datti

In its reaction, the Presidential Campaign Council of the Labour Party welcome Clark’s endorsement of Peter Obi.

LP PCC Chief Spokesman, Dr Yunusa Tanko, said this in a telephone interview with Vanguard in Abuja yesterday.

He said the LP campaign was delighted that statesmen were speaking up for a better united Nigeria devoid of sentiments.
Yunusa said: “We welcome this endorsement like we did that of our former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

“What our great leader, Chief Edwin K. Clark said, is consistent with the growing confidence among statesmen as well as the generality of Nigerians that we have a golden opportunity to save Nigeria and set it on the path of growth.

“This endorsement like the one before shows clearly that Nigerians, young and old, are convinced that our candidate, Mr Peter Obi and his running mate, Dr Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, have the competence and track record of performance to put Nigeria where it rightly belongs in the comity of nations.

“They both possess the track record, commitment and zeal to confront the monster that has held this giant nation down for decades. We look forward to more endorsements just as we expect the ultimate endorsement of the generality of Nigerians come February.”

Clark’s endorsement of Obi has no effect on Tinubu, says APC PCC

Meanwhile, the APC Presidential Campaign Council, PCC, has pooh-poohed Clark’s endorsement of Obi, saying the action has no effect on its candidate.

According to the council, Pa Clark and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who, on January 1, endorsed Obi, had, in the prelude to the 2019 presidential election, also endorsed former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, then-candidate of the opposition PDP against the incumbent, APC’s President Buhari.

Chief Spokesperson of the APC PCC and Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, told Vanguard yesterday in Abuja that even the Ijaw boys, who were followers of former President Goodluck Jonathan, whom Chief Clark supported in 2015, were now rooting for the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

He said it would appear that some of the elders, who had expressed support for Mr Obi had lost touch with their base.
Keyamo said: “It is the same thing I said for Obasanjo that applies to my respected father, Edwin Clark. These are elders, who endorsed Atiku Abubakar in 2019. The votes they gave Atiku in 2019, they have carried those votes to Obi.

“My father, Edwin Clark, has never supported APC for the Presidency since 2015. This endorsement has no effect at all on Asiwaju.
“Meanwhile, even the Ijaw boys, who were followers of Jonathan whom Clark supported in 2015 have since started mobilising for Asiwaju. Unfortunately, it appears some of these respected elders have lost touch with their base.”

Vanguard News Nigeria