Abuja — Against the backdrop of the resolution of the 19 northern governors not to support any presidential candidate from the southern part of the country in 2015 election, elder statesman and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark declared, yesterday, that President Goodluck Jonathan will contest the 2015 presidential election because former Presidents of the country contested for second term in office.
The northern governors at their forum last week, expressed their determination to sink their differences and unite towards producing the president in the next election.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja as part of activities to mark his 85th birthday today, Chief Clark, however, said section 137 of the 1999 Constitution gives President Jonathan the constitutional right to seek for a second term in office, adding, "I am not aware whether he made any commitment to contest for only one term to Nigerians which is irrelevant at the moment. Personal promises cannot override the constitution of Nigeria".
Making reference to former President Shehu Shagari to support his point that Jonathan must run for 2015 Presidential election, Chief Clark stressed, "former President Shagari contested the presidential election in 1979 and won and in 1983, he contested for the second term in office before he was ousted by the military, led by General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
"Also, former President Olusegun Obasanjo contested for the presidential election in 1999 and won and later contested for the second term in office in 2003 and won", asking why the case should be different for President Jonathan.
According to him, "Jonathan is a Nigerian. Nigerians voted for him beyond religious and cultural differences. What we should be asking is that he should perform as President in office. If he performs well, the same Nigerians should vote for him as he has another term".
No to scrapping of EFCC
The Elder statesman who criticised those calling for the scrapping of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practice and other related offences Commission (ICPC), stressed that scrapping them was not the best alternative.
Speaking on the conviction of former governor of Delta state, Chief James Ibori for corruption by a London court, Clark said that it will remain a dent on the Nigerian judiciary that had earlier given Ibori a clean bill.
On the activities of members of the Boko Haram sect, Chief Clark appealed to northern elders to help fast-tract the process of dialogue as that would bring an end to the insurgency in the northern part of the country. He stressed that what is happening at the moment is an evil wind which will blow the country no good, just as he urged them to emulate the Niger Delta elders who went to the creeks to talk to the militants to lay down their arms.
Clark who hailed the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar III, and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) for ensuring dialogue between the federal government and the Boko Haram sect, said that some politicians must be blamed as masterminds of the Boko Haram sect insurgency.
The Elder statesman who titled his statement: "My 85th Birthday Message to Boko Haram is Peace", said, "these attacks challenge the very foundation of our unity as a nation. They strike at the root of our democracy, challenge our settled ways of life, our purpose and everything that we stand for.
Nigeria belongs to all of us
"Nigeria belongs to all of us, not to a select few and we cannot allow a few group or persons to condemn our country to the dangers of terrorism and threaten our very existence. Open and honest dialogue is the solution to any grievance whether real or imagined. There is no misunderstanding or grievance that dialogue cannot resolve".
The press conference was attended by another 87 year-old politician, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai who noted that it was wrong to associate the Boko Haram crisis to the run off to the 2015 general election but traced the emergence of the sect to 2003 during the regime of President Obasanjo in the states controlled by the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
Obasanjo can't comment on corruption
Chief Edwin Clark also tongue-lashed ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo for saying that many of the lawmakers at both the states and national assemblies are rogues and thieves. According to the Ijaw leader General Obasanjo has no moral justification to describe members of the National Assembly as rogues and armed robbers.
He argued that the former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, BoT, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is the least person to present people as corrupt against the backdrop that he never showed good example on corruption. According to him, "he never showed good example. What was he in 1999 when he assumed office and today, he is one of the wealthiest in this country?
"Presidents build their libraries when they leave office. Look at his investment at the library, look at his investment at Transcorp. What was he in 1999?", Chief Clark said, while castigating Obasanjo on corruption, explaining that in the United Kingdom, parliamentarians go to jail because of a mere one thousand pounds bribe."