By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA— Elder statesman and prominent Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, yesterday, declared that some highly placed individuals from the Northern part of the country were behind the increasing spate of violence in Nigeria to actualize their vow of “making the nation ungovernable for President Jonathan.”
Speaking as a guest lecturer at the “2nd State of the Federation Lecture” organized by the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, NIALS, Clark therefore challenged two former heads of state, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Muhammadu Buhari, to establish their innocence by publicly condemning activities of the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
The lecture was chaired by former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana.His word: “Our type of terrorism is home grown, unlike in Israel and the US, where terrorism was imported from the Middle-East. Here our Nigerians are the Boko Harams. Boko Haram which was religious has now become a political tool. Those who said they would make Nigeria ungovernable are those behind Boko Haram. It is our proverb that if in the night a mother sleeps with the child and owl cries, if in the morning that child dies, it is the owl that killed the baby. Federal Government should pick up courage and the political will to take up these people, if that is done I believe the problem of Boko Haram will be solved.
“If the Federal Government should dialogue with them, the government of those states should be able to galvanize their people. What are their grievances? Like in the Niger Delta, our own agitation was for the implementation of the 50% derivation formula, today, what is their grievance?
“They are killing everybody, security forces, burning churches, burning human beings. I appeal to governors, instead of devoting themselves to holding governorship meetings in Abuja every month; they should go home and work. They should be made to know that if they don’t perform, state of emergency will be declared in their states for six months.
“Two former heads of state recently made this kind of appeal against the growing level of insecurity in the country, as if they were not part of the system when Boko Haram was formed.
“Boko Haram preceded Jonathan. It started in 2002 when Obasanjo was President. It was there when Yar’Adua was also ruling. It is not synonymous with Jonathan. I had expected that somebody like Babangida should have spoken since. I thought he would have spoken with his friend Buhari. Two of them have been meeting. So why is he now with Obasanjo?
“At 72, Babangida said he will wear uniform and fight for the unity of Nigeria, he should therefore stand up now and condemn Boko Haram from the bottom of his heart, not with Obasanjo.
“Obasanjo has gone to Maiduguri to meet the people, why has Babangida not gone?” he asked.
Besides arguing that President Jonathan has the legal right to seek re-election in 2015, Clark, yesterday, condemned the height of corruption in the judiciary, calling for the immediate prosecution of past political office holders, some of whom he said were granted frivolous ex-parte injunctions.
Recalling that he earlier wrote a petition to the erstwhile Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, on the role and failure of the Judiciary to eradicate corruption in Nigeria, Clark lamented that “some very high profile cases of corruption against some former governors and ministers have been lying fallow in various courts for five years and above.”
Those that must be prosecuted
Those he said should be prosecuted immediately were, Senator Saminu Turaki for allegedly embezzling over N36billion from the Jigawa State treasury, Ayo Fayose for alleged money laundering and misappropriation of about N1.2 billion, Senator Joshua Dariye, whose female associate he said was also arrested and sentenced in London for money laundering; Chimaroke Nnamani, for alleged N5.5billion theft, Dr Peter Odili, for money laundering and looting of about N100billion from Rivers State only to subsequently secure a perpetual injunction stopping his trial.
“Today Dr Peter Odili is one of the freest and recognized political leaders to the extent of his being honoured by the Nigerian Army to decorate their officers at a ceremony; what a shame! In other words, the former Governor has secured a permanent injunction against his arrest and prosecution.”
Others he said should be expeditiously tried were former governor of Adamawa, Boni Haruna, ex-Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State, Rasheed Ladoja of Oyo State, Reverend Jolly Nyame of Taraba State, James Onanefe Ibori of Delta State, former Acting Governor of Plateau State, Michael Botmang, Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto State, Adamu Abdullahi of Nasarawa State, former Ministers of Aviation, Prof. Babalola Borishade and Femi Fani-Kayode who he said “is parading himself today as a moral icon in the society.”
Regretting that President Jonathan “has been abused, called all sorts of names such as drunken fisherman and a weakling unfit to govern,” by those he said were bereft of good family upbringing, Clark said, “for instance, Pastor Tunde Bakare has turned his pulpit to a political theatre where he preaches against President Jonathan and his administration to the extent of saying that the President will not last up to 2015, adding that Nigerians should be ready for fresh elections any time before 2015.
Chief Clark also implored President Goodluck Jonathan to promptly convoke a national conference with a view to creating a veritable platform for the discussion of contemporary issues threatening the continued existence of Nigeria as a federation.
The Minister of Information in the First Republic, who condemned the over centralization of the nation’s revenue in the hands of the Federal Government decried what he termed “unfair execution of the 1999 constitution,” saying the country was far from practising either true federalism or fiscal federation and emphasized the need for an urgent amendment of the 1999 constitution.
Lamenting the near absence of transparency and equity in the way the nation’s resources were being managed, the Ijaw leader, urged Federal Government to start appointing two Accountants General, “one to take charge of the finances of the Federal Government, while the other will take charge of the finances of the federating units.”
He said: “The Federal Government does not own the resources. It belongs to the Nigerian Federation and the owner communities. The assignment of the responsibility to collect revenue should not be taken as making the collecting agent the exclusive owner of such resources. It is for this reason that I am recommending that the Federal Government should start appointing two Accountants General.
“By collecting the revenue into the national coffers, the resource producing communities are denied the wherewithal to carry out the development of their communities which are devastated as a result of the exploration of these resources. The revenue allocation formula in the country shows a fiscal dominance of the Federal Government. This is not in line with best global practices in federalism. It therefore poses a major challenge in our political evolution,” he added.
Need for National confab
Highlighting need for the national conference, Clark, warned members of the National Assembly to stop arrogating to themselves the powers to speak for Nigerians on every occasion, saying, “the National Assembly itself is also an aspect to be discussed at the conference.
“Some of them are facing investigation and trial in court. Most of them emerged through corruption, name any panel of inquiry that they successfully concluded, especially the House of Representatives, without element of corruption, is there any? My answer is no. Why then should they arrogate the powers of amending the constitution to themselves alone,” he queried.
Concluding his lecture, Chief Clark appealed to the National Assembly, particularly the House of Representatives to take it easy on their impeachment threats on the President, if he fails to implement the budget 100%.
According to him, “I do not think it is really possible anywhere in the world to implement a nation’s budget fully and completely between July and September, except there are other motives or reasons which have not been made known to the public. I agree with them that they have every right to impeach the President if he violates any section of the Nigerian Constitution.
This of course is not the first time such attempts are being made to impeach the President. The threat by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives and other members of the House in which the scandal of “Ghana must go” bags were found on the floor of the House has not been forgotten.”
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