Elder statesman and Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, yesterday, boasted that no amount of intimidation or suppression can stop President Goodluck Jonathan from contesting the 2015 Presidential election, just as he said that speculations were rife that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may have adopted him as the candidate.
Addressing journalists in his Asokoro residence, the former Federal Information Commissioner described as malicious, insincere and dishonest, remarks by the governor of Niger State and Chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum, Muazu Babaginda Aliyu, that Jonathan signed an agreement with the governors not to seek re-election.
Clark, who noted that there was no such agreement, said even if there was such agreement between the governors and the President, the northern governors were the first to break the bond against the backdrop that they voted massively against the President at the PDP Presidential primaries in 2011.
According to him, the only qualification which the Niger State governor has ahead of Jonathan, was where he comes from which is the north, stressing that people should stop thinking that only a particular zone was qualified to rule the country, thereby pushing other zones to the background.
On amnesty for Boko Haram members
Also backing President Jonathan on his refusal to grant amnesty to members of Boko Haram sect, Clark argued that the President should not grant amnesty on sentiment, just as he said President Jonathan, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, has the right to deploy soldiers to any where in the country where there was security challenge.
In a speech he entitled: “An open letter to Dr. Babaginda Aliyu, Executive Governor of Niger State,” the elder statesman said: “My Dear Chief Servant of Niger State, your statement on the tenureship agreement with Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, is not only mischevious but also insincere and dishonest.
“I read with disappointment and embarrassment your interview which was published in various national dailies that the governors of the 19 northern states signed an agreement with President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to contest the 2011 elections on the condition that he will serve only a single tenure in office. You went ahead to state that it is only Chief E. K. Clark and those who will benefit from Dr. Jonathan that are campaigning and urging him to contest again come 2015. I must say that your attack against me is most unfortunate and ridiculous.
“My Dear Chief Servant, I have always had a very high regard for you. As one of the oldest governors with very rich experience who attained the pinnacle position in the civil service, having worked as a Permanent Secretary in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja before retiring into politics, you should view issues with a broad mind.
“It is, however, unfortunate and disappointing that you could engage in such bare-faced lies and false propaganda simply because of your inordinate ambition to seek election as President of Nigeria come 2015, and the only qualification you think you have over the incumbent is that you are a northerner who must rule at all time.
Jonathan signed no single term agreement
“As a rebuttal to your statement, I wish to repeat that there was no agreement between the governors of the 19 northern states and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. You are a very well educated person, but it appears you do not understand the correct meaning of agreement. For the records, according to the online edition of the Legal Dictionary, the word ‘agreement’ simply means:
‘A mutual understanding between two or more legally competent individuals or entities about their rights and duties regarding their past and future performances and a consideration that they must perform their own obligations in order to be bonded by the agreement. Thus agreement is the art of agreeing or coming to a mutual agreement.’
“Now, according to your story, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan wanted to contest and win both the PDP Presidential primaries and the 2011 Presidential election successfully and you were ready to help him achieve his ambition by voting for him provided he remains in office for only one tenure, from 2011-2015. In your permutation, that was the agreement.
“Having emphasized that there was no such agreement, but in defence of the concept of agreement and for the sake of argument, if there was such an agreement, did you keep to your own side of the said agreement? Was that why you directed your state delegates at the PDP Presidential primaries to vote for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the primaries and when he lost the ticket, you and your state went ahead to vote for a rival political party, the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, in the presidential election as shown in the results outlined below?
“You will recall that in the PDP Presidential primaries held at the Eagle Square, you directed your state delegates to give Alhaji Atiku Abubakar 94 votes and a paltry 16 votes to President Jonathan. Again with the defeat of your candidate in the primaries, your state voted overwhelmingly for Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) of the CPC who scored a total vote of 652,574 against President Jonathan’s 321,429 votes in the Presidential election.
‘’Paradoxically, in the gubernatorial election that followed, you defeated the CPC governorship candidate. This clearly shows your insincerity and dishonesty to the purported agreement which to my mind existed only in the figment of your own imagination and by extension a product of your obsession with the Northern agenda in Nigeria. In fact, President Jonathan won convincingly in the North-Central states except your own Niger State.
“I should not have bothered myself to reply to your fabricated lies and attempts to confuse Nigerians and blackmail, cajole and intimidate Mr. President into submission as it relates to the 2015 election which you are interested in contesting. This is because I am already very impressed with the various comments on your current schemes particularly the reply by one of my daughters, Annkio Briggs.
On provision of water to the citizenry
“Just because you are interested in contesting the 2015 Presidential election, you have been trying to impress the audience by blindly criticizing the Federal Government and attempting to give the false impression that you will do better if given the opportunity.
Remember how at the recent Presidential Summit on Water held on Monday, February 18, 2013 at the Presidential Villa, you goofed when you tried one of your tricks by saying that any government that fails to supply water for its people is liable to be sued by them.
“You will also recall that His Excellency, Senator David Mark, GCON, true to type, succinctly replied by correcting the misrepresentation of facts by you when he said that the provision of water for the citizens of the states and local government councils is the responsibility of the various states and local government councils and, therefore, if the pumps and the pipes in Niger State do not produce water, the people of Niger State have the right to sue the governor of the state. I am sure that you understood that, that was the reason for the thunderous ovation which applauded Senator David Mark’s response because it dwarfed your insinuation that it is the sole responsibility of the Federal Government to provide water for the citizenry all over the country.
On Jonathan’s second term
“Back to the issue at hand, I wonder what makes the issue of President Jonathan contesting the 2015 Presidency a mere speculation, according to you. The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides for two tenure of four years each after two democratically conducted elections. Apart from the illegality of the purported agreement with the northern state governors, such a mindset violates the letter and spirit of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended. There is no speculation that the PDP is planning to impose President Jonathan as the sole candidate of the party in the upcoming convention.
“The practice in democratic Presidential system of Government is that an incumbent President remains the sole candidate of a political party at the party’s convention, if he or she is willing to contest for a second term in office. This is the practice in the United States of America from where Nigeria copied her own model of Presidential System of Government.
“My dear Governor, you may wish to find out whether any candidate in the Democratic Party in the United States of America contested the Primaries with President Bill Clinton when he decided to stand for a second tenure. Again find out whether any Republican Party faithful contested the Presidential Primaries with George W. Bush when he desired for a second tenure and recently whether any Democratic Party member contested with President Barack Obama when he offered for a second tenure in 2012.
“Similarly, when the American type of Presidential system was adopted in Nigeria in 1978/1979, former President Shehu Shagari was the sole candidate of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, when he chose to run for a second tenure in the 1983 Presidential election. Or do you think there was dearth of qualified candidates in that era? Note that in the words of Dr. K. O. Mbadiwe, ‘the NPN had many men of timber and caliber who were ready to contest the Presidential Primaries if Alhaji Shehu Shagari had not indicated his intention to contest.’
‘’The list is endless. In 2003, it was only through the instigation of some governors led by Chief James Onanefe Ibori who were disappointed that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar stepped down for his boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that Dr. Alex Ekwueme was persuaded to contest the Presidential Primaries against the party’s decision. However, he was defeated by President Obasanjo who had the party’s blessings. Many Nigerians will recall the reverberating rendition of ‘Obasanjo, Obasanjo, Obasanjo, …, E-k-w-u-e-m-e-“ from Chief Tom Ikimi’s voice at the Eagle Square during the vote counting at the primaries.
A sitting President is entitled to a second term
‘’To lend credence to the fact that a sitting President is entitled to a second term, the ambitious and unpatriotic governors and some Northern conservative politicians confirmed this constitutional provision by saying that it was the second term of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua that the North wanted to complete in 2011. In other words, late President Yar’Adua was entitled to eight years in office but Dr. Jonathan is entitled to only a single term contrary to the 1999 Constitution. Is that not double standard? What a shame!
Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians
“For the umpteenth time, it must be emphasized that Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians as enshrined in the nation’s Constitution. All Nigerian citizens are equal and can all aspire to the highest office in this country and should remain in office in accordance with the Constitution of Nigeria.
“We can no longer tolerate a situation where some people believe that they are superior to others and others are inferior citizens who must not enjoy the same privileges they enjoy. Our centenary celebration is based on the equality of all citizens and we must be tolerant of ourselves now more than ever before. In all civilised democracies where the minority and majority ethnic groups exist, it has never been the prerogative of the majority ethnic group to lord it over the minorities.
“For instance, in Great Britain from whom we got our Independence, there are the English, the Welsh and the Scottish. The English are the majority, followed by the Scottish and then the Welsh. Each of these ethnic groups has produced the Prime Minister of Great Britain based on the quality of the candidate. In fact, in recent times the Scottish has come to produce more Prime Ministers than the English who are the majority.
“Suffice it to mention that in the United States of America, President Barack Obama is a clear example that any intelligent and qualified person can be the President. Who would have ever thought that an African-American with more blood relations in Kenya than in America, will become the President of the United States of America in 2008 and re-elected as President for a second term in 2012?
North has ruled for over 38 years
“In the 52 years of our Independence as a nation, the North has ruled for over 38 years while all other Nigerians remained patient and loyal; the Yorubas have ruled for over 12 years, and the Ibos for only six months. The minority ethnic groups, now known as the South-South, has never ruled this country until the unfortunate death of President Yar’Adua after an unnecessary constitutional crisis. “In 2011, Nigerians voluntarily voted massively for President Jonathan and are ready to vote for him again in 2015 if he performs to the satisfaction of Nigerians, and he has two more years of his first tenure to continue his works. It is, therefore, unacceptable for any group of people to gang up to intimidate and frustrate him out of office by engaging in series of despicable crisis where people are killed, houses and property destroyed.
We are being harassed by politically motivated Boko Haram
“Youth Corp members maimed and killed as demonstrated in the post-election violence in Bauchi State after the 2011 Presidential Election in which my nephew Mr. Elliot Adowe whom I educated at the University of Calabar was brutally murdered along with nine other Corp members.
“Today we are being harassed by politically motivated Boko Haram. Yet, I still believe in a united Nigeria based on equality of her citizens where the words of our National Anthem are obeyed and practised. And to the chagrin of his political opponents and detractors, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan did not only visit the Boko Haram infested zones recently, but went further to spend the night in Maiduguri, the headquarters of Boko Haram, where he had a direct and frank interaction with the people and the Emirs. He freely toured the states inspecting and commissioning projects.
“Yet the verdict of these unpatriotic detractors was that the tour was meaningless. Where do we go from here Mr. Governor, the Chief Servant of the People? Have you as the chairman of the powerful 19 Northern States Governors Forum ever visited Yobe and Borno States?
We must remain united and wait for our turn
“My Dear Governor Aliyu, to my mind, a man of your calibre should know the implication and consequential result of the inflammatory and provocative statements you are making. The point I must stress as I end this Open Letter to you, is that as a people, we must remain united and be patient to wait for our turn and not to harass and intimidate an incumbent President to abandon his constitutional right to seek a second term in office as provided for in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, just because he is from the minority. Enough is enough, my dear Governor.
“Let us celebrate the centenary of our coming together as one indivisible country in peace, unity and equality of all citizens. We need one another to survive as a nation.”