E.K. Clark: How Not To Be An Elder Statesman8 min read
By Fred Edoreh
As a matter of culture, we respect elders, but when they sometimes misapply honour to manipulate society to achieve self-interest it becomes somewhat unbecoming.
I have read the open letter of our revered Chief E.K. Clark to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa and the very respectful reaction of the Delta State Government, but who does not understand that the elder statesman’s letter was a political propaganda composed with untruths, half-truths, inconsistencies and misinterpretation of facts to create disaffection across the state against our own Governor who is now opportune to be vying for the Vice President of the Federation?
It was not his first letter in the current political transition. Just before the primaries, he wrote one with veiled rejection and subtle threats against the rotation of the Governorship position in Delta State on the basis of Senatorial Districts.
What saddened me in that letter was the excitement with which he stated that he handed the documents to then President Olusegun Obasanjo to frame up Chief Onanefe Ibori.
He said he assembled the documents from some of the aspirants who lost out in the PDP Gubernatorial primary to succeed Ibori in the 2007 election.
One of them was the then Secretary to the State Government who was among those that rejected the principle of rotation of power across the districts of the state. He is contesting today to be the Governor of this same state. Another story.
E.K Clark revealed further that, not pleased that Ibori was discharged by the Court of Appeal, when Goodluck Jonathan became President, he pushed that Ibori must be punished.
That led to his chase from Abuja to Oghara to Dubai and his final travail in the UK.
Sadly, his motive was neither altruistic nor to fight corruption. He said himself that his grouse was that Ibori outsmarted him and a few elders of Delta South to produce Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan as the flag bearer of the PDP while they were still searching for a candidate.
It is always either they have their way or they destroy. Just the way some elders looked on at the destruction of Diepreye Alamiesegha, apparently because they did not like his appellation as Governor General of Ijaw Nation, rightly earned for his commitment to Restructuring, Resource Control and the political cum economic emancipation of the Niger Delta.
Clark has come again with another letter, cursing, swearing and lying against Okowa with so much fallacies and inconsistencies.
First, his grouse was that Jonathan was purportedly betrayed in 2015. He knows those that may have betrayed Jonathan. Okowa was certainly not one of them. Secondly, he knows that it was a betrayal of the nation for Jonathan to have sought to continue in the Presidency by 2015 because the action disbalanced and damaged the seeming consensus on rotation of the Presidency between the North and the South.
Fact is, after Obasanjo’s eight years, it became the turn of the North. When President Umaru Yar’Adua died after two years in office, the North was of the view that, it being their turn, they should be allowed to provide someone else to live the mandate. It was argued that that would be in violation of the constitutional provision for the the Vice President to take over from an ailing or demised President. The North agreed and, by the Doctrine of Necessity, they supported Jonathan to complete the remaining two years of Yar’Adua and the Northern first term.
Having served it out, the fair thing would have been to step aside for the North to produce the President for the second term in order to fulfill and complete their eight years in respect for the consensus, but Jonathan disregarded to exercise that fairness and insisted on continuing.
With uncommon understanding, the Northern caucus of the PDP conceded to him to continue, but with a caveat that he would do that one term of four years which he visibly agreed to.
To their chagrin, after serving the four years, Jonathan insisted on serving another four years. Seizing the mechanism of the party, he put himself up again, not minding that with Obasanjo’s eight years, his two years of completing Yar’Adua’s tenure and the four years of his own Presidency, the South had had 14 years while the North had had just two, and his insistence on continuing again from 2015 to 2019 would have meant the South having 18 years while the North was still at two years.
It does not seem right to me that our elder statesmen did not see that wrong but rather supported Jonathan in the obvious travesty.
It was for this reason that the North caucus of the PDP exited to the APC and rallied round Buhari.
Having so disregarded and destroyed the flow, I find it ironical and dishonourable that these same people are the ones talking about equity today.
Even Governor Nyesom Wike, when Rotimi Amaechi intended that, being an Ikwerre man, his successor should come from other nationalities of Rivers State, he refused and went on to take the Governorship, he being an Ikwerre man.
Talking about equity in the rotation of the Presidency, even as the arithmetic stands now, the South has had 14 years while the North has had 10. We may need to bring out the scale and see where to make the balance.
Talking about the declaration by Southern Governors, we seem to forgot that we marched the line in 2011 and 2015 by disregarding the North.
Our action in not restraining ourselves thus constrained both the APC and the PDP to throw open their Presidential primaries for winners to emerge through open democratic politicking from which Atiku Abubakar emerged as Presidential candidate of the PDP.
Those who come to equity must do so with clean mind. It has been said that, even in the PDP, throwing the primary open was most precipitated by the refusal of Gov Wike to agree on micro zoning to the South East, knowing that in the South, the South West had had a turn with Obasanjo and the South South had also had with Jonathan.
It was for this excessive disregard for others that Governor Dave Umahi left the PDP for him. This is why I pity the likes of Governors Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State who have submitted to Wike to be led by the nose.
By the way, when Wike was shortlisted alongside Okowa and Udom Emmanual for Atiku to choose a running mate from, he did not complain. Had Atiku chosen him, we would not have heard of G-5 and all that shenanigans of a bad loser.
Back to E.K. Clark, I will not bother to react to his spurious accusations against Okowa. It is the stuck in trade of propagandists and elders who erroneously feel like oracles.
We saw how Obasanjo packed all manners of accusations against Jonathan, including that he trained snipers where Abacha trained his and listed 1000 political leaders to be assassinated. Turned out all lies.
The issue of loan is a matter of public records, not subject to suggestive conjectures, except for mischievous political objectives.
The state has repeatedly clarified that it is not taking any loan nor fresh loan; that it had intended to take N150b bridging finance, the repayment of which was to be anchored on the expected refund on 13% derivation to be paid by the Federal Government in quarterly installments over five years; that it later scaled the amount down to N100b; that even so, it was not able to secure the N100b facility in that first attempt; that it was only able to secure N30b at about October 2022; that it had to reapply to the House of Assembly to revalidate the approval with other banks which have agreed to provide the facility with an addition of N20b to be invested in Liquid Gas portfolio just as the state has 15% equity investment in the BEDC; and that so far only about N19b has been received from the FG on the 13% refund.
These are matter of records that can be obtained from the banks, the CBN or national records agencies.
However, Clark obviously confirmed the position of the state in his letter when he stated that the initial request for N100b did not pull through, allegedly because Okowa wanted the money to be domiciled in Premium Trust Bank as against the lead banks.
So, having known that that initial request did not sail through for whatever reasons, what was the sense in suggesting that the revalidation was a fresh loan when he has confirmed it was not? Mischief? Mere propaganda?
Clark has had his time in government, from 1966 when he served in the Midwest and 1975 when he was made Federal Commissioner of Finance. We would thank him for whatever development he was able or unable to attract to the Niger Delta.
The struggle for the emancipation of the region has claimed lives and careers – from Isaac Boro to Ken Saro Wiwa, Alamiesegha and Ibori.
It was for this reason we supported Jonathan for whatever worth of development he may have brought to the region, even if it is only the university he sited at his hometown, Otuoke, just as late Gov Ambrose Alli sited the Bendel State University in his hometown, Ekpoma.
Interestingly, Clark has no issues with those but he does have issues with a university in Owa Alero and the upgrade of the School of Agriculture in Asaba.
As has been said, our daddy has made his political choice and is his right. Just that he should not think he can continue to fool the children to feather his nest.
Some of us know very well that neither Bola Tinubu nor his running mate, Ibrahim Shettima, has any feelings for the Niger Delta or oil producing areas whom they see as “sons of drunken fishermen,” an allusion to our environment and occupation. Remember?
Even Clark himself once pointed out that Obasanjo has so much hatred and resentment for the Niger Delta. For them, the oil and gas deposit belongs not to the people whose environment is continuously degraded to feed the nation.
I wish that after the coups of 1966 Chief Clark had not led the opposition to a Confederation system of government which we had and by which regions would harvest and apply their resources and only pay tax to the central government.
Nigeria and the Niger Delta would have been much more competitively developed, but to secure his personal privileges in government, he betrayed our interest and voted for unitary government at the conference for confederation called by General Gowon.
Since then, it has been a long road to Timbuktu but, in the present circumstance, we know that of the lot in the Presidential ballot, Atiku is a better friend of the Niger Delta.
Rather than being completely out of power on the backdrop of Obi/Datti and Tinubu/Shettima (needless talking about Muslim/Muslim ticket, “balubabluu” and all those drolls), the region is better served with Okowa as Vice President in the Atiku/Okowa PDP Rescue Mission.
But, more than that, how can anybody even be talking about the continuation of the APC in the governance of Nigeria at this time? We must not allow our elders to manipulate us into national suicide just because they feel not well personally aggrandised.