Elder statesman and former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, has said President Goodluck Jonathan will contest the 2015 presidential election as was the case with former presidents that ran for second term in office.
He also said that former President Olusegun Obasanjo is the least person in Nigeria to castigate anybody for being corrupt, adding that, “He never showed good example. What was he in 1999 when he assumed office, and today, he is one of the wealthiest men in this country?”
Speaking in Abuja yesterday, as part of activities marking his 85th birthday, which comes up today, Clark supported his position with the analogy that “former President Shehu Shagari contested the presidential election in 1979 and won and in 1983, he contested for a second term in office and won before he was ousted by the military, led by Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
“Also former President Olusegun Obasanjo contested the presidential election in 1999 and won and later contested for a second term in office in 2003 which he also won”. Clark therefore asked: “Why should it be different in the case of President Jonathan?”
He further argued: “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, and the same Nigerians vote for him, he will have another term.”
Beyond that, Clark said that Section 137 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria grants the president the right to seek a second term in office.
Asked if the constitutional relief would still subsist if the subject, by any way, had committed himself to a single term, the elder statesman said: “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.”
Referring to the comments allegedly made by Obasanjo that there were rogues and armed robbers in the National and state Houses of Assemblies, Clark said: “Obasanjo never showed good example as far as fighting corruption is concerned. What was he in 1999 and today, what is he. 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 investments in other areas. In the United Kingdom, parliamentarians go to jail because of a mere one thousand pounds bribe.”
He called for an overhaul of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), explaining that scrapping the two agencies was not the best alternative.
On the conviction of former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, for corruption by a London court, he said the incident would remain a dent on the Nigerian judiciary that had earlier discharged and acquitted the former governor.
Speaking on the growing cases of insecurity in the country, Clark appealed to Northern elders to help with actions that could contain the Boko Haram insurgency, especially in the North, saying the development is an “evil wind that will blow the country no good”.
He challenged the Northern elders to rein on Boko Haram as a way of emulating the boldness of Niger Delta elders who, in the heat of the militancy in the region, went to the creeks to talk to the ex-militants and got them to lay down their arms to achieve peace.
He commended the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Saad Abubakar III, and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) for their efforts in ensuring dialogue between the Federal Government and the sect.
Clark, who titled his press 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, 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”, he said, stressing further, “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 elder statesman and politician, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, 87, who also said that it was wrong to associate the Boko Haram crisis to the run-off to the 2015 general election, while tracing the emergence of the sect to 2003 in the states controlled by the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) during the administration of Obasanjo.