EDWIN Clark, convener of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has called for the removal of Abia, Imo, and Ondo states from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Towards the realization of this selfish sectional agitation, he has also asked President Bola Tinubu to initiate the amendment process of the NDDC Act of 2000 to exclude these three states from benefiting from the NDDC activities and programmes.
INDEED, in a bid to promote unity and development of the country the NDDC Act listed nine oil-producing states as beneficiaries of the commission’s interventions. The states are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo, and Rivers. His retrogressive and unfortunate action, according to him, was hinged on the simple reason that the three states need to be removed based on geographical location and because “they produce little oil”. This statement has been roundly condemned by many right thinking Nigerians including the apex Igbo organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Human Right Writers Association (HURIWA) and National Coordinator, Concerned Ilaje Stakeholders Committee among others. Ohanaeze Ndigbo in her criticism described the PANDEF leader’s action as “vituperic rhetoric’ and an “exclusionary’ stance and an affront to national cohesion, unity and promotion of ethnic bigotry. The Hope joins well meaning Nigerians to condemn the divisive and self-serving exclusionary demand in its entirety because the country has to move beyond primordial agitations to seeking ways and to build a virile strong sustainable nation.
INDEED, for such a statement to emanate from a personality that is considered a statesman in his own right and to which the present and future generations of Nigerians should be looking up to as a notable example of good national leader imbued with decorum broad nation outlook with a commitment to achieving the country’s aspiration and goals of a prosperous nation is quite unfortunate. And in a society where huge efforts are being dissipated to reducing the various fault lines dividing the country and in the face of crisis of insecurity, and economic doldrum is not only unacceptable but a sign of failure and greed that has been the bane of development and divisive tendency pervading the length and breadth of the country. It is trite that while most discerning Nigerians and nationalists are looking for ways to unite and promote the sustainable development, Clark was busy devising and promoting issues that will further divide the country.
OF course, Edwin Clark with this new posture and irredentist agitation has reduced himself to an ethnic bigot and sectional leader from the national status which he attained as a Federal Commissioner of Information in 1975; a position that qualified him to be accorded a statesman by his own right. Ordinarily, one expects him at this critical stage in the life of Nigeria to join forces with other elders to fashion how to bequeath a good legacy to upcoming generations of Nigerians and a sustainable country that they can be proud of and not a divided one as being suggested by him and his organisation. Of course, the old man has the right to make a case for the improvement of his area when necessary, he should not be involved in actions to divide and cause confusion in a fragile society like Nigeria where pedestrian issues have been known to cause widespread communal crisis with associated loss of precious life and property. This is unnecessary because as argued by him, these states still produce oil though little.
THE states Abia, Imo and Ondo beside being geographically contiguous with other Niger Delta states share similar environmental crisis with heavy rainfall and swampy environments. Ondo State for instance has the longest coastline in the country. Geographically these states are in the same zones with other six remaining states and therefore President Bola Tinubu should reject Clark’s agitation and view it as self-serving and one designed to create crisis for the present federal government to make administration of the country difficult during his tenure. Of course, Clark did not make the call when President Goodluck Jonathan or President Mohammed Buhari was in power. Then why now if not to pull down the present government? Chief Edwin Clark should remove this divisive posture and dress himself in the toga of true statesman by indulging and promoting things that will better ensure the unity and prosperity of the country.