By Prince Abugo
Niger-Delta is a region with several languages and cultures, rich in natural resources and agricultural potentials but its people live in poverty and squalor with Pidgin English as a common denominator. Crude oil and gas flare is common but does not reflect on standard of living, unemployment is common and scavengers feed on disunity, perpetuate crisis to feed fat in collaboration with external bats. This is inimical to development. In devouring trade by batter, they defecate on unity of purpose to fortify themselves with reactionary forces that retard good purpose.
Traditional rulers abandon sacred spiritual roles as intermediaries between gods, ancestors and people for politics and contracts, chiefdoms become kingdoms and villages without kingdoms become kingdoms in scrambling for resources, historical stools are trampled for greed. This loquacious greed brought memory of dark ages where the weak were slaughtered, moles and conspirators exploited poor for avarice. Nigerians must question pedigree of characters challenging Clark’s leadership, their public records apart from putting beads round necks with beaded crowns, parading flashy cars despite poverty around subjects. Can they summon a meeting of the Niger-Delta to get support and legitimacy? The PNDPC face-off with PANDEF brings conspiracy.
When hyenas look after goats and sheep, the result is catastrophic. Niger-Delta consists of independent ethnic groups. Edwin Clark is the summation of the ethnic nationalities in unity. There is no living or dead Ijaw leader who commands the respect, acceptance and leadership Edwin Clark commands in the region. PANDEF is a collection of statesmen, youths, intellectuals, politicians, traditional and common persons from the Niger Delta. Leadership is earned not bought, nationalities in the Niger-Delta cannot place their heritage on stomach scavengers who pride themselves in mischief to drain solidarity. PANDEF is not Ijaw podium, its Niger-Delta ethnic nationalities in demonstrating collective voice devoid of divisions, its dialogue against arms conflict that destroy and cause human and environmental catastrophe.
Clark’s leadership is not from PANDEF, it started since 1960s as an erudite scholar in public service that is still counting. He is a voice of reason, caution and wisdom, Clark’s nationalism for Nigeria’s minorities is likened to John the Baptist crying in the wilderness. He acquired leadership in a family known for public service, as student in London under West African students union and after graduation sustained family tradition in several cadres of education, law and advocacy, politics and economy, administration, social crusade and as Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Clark’s voice against decades of injustices sustains stability, redresses injustices of multinational oil companies and his heart of accommodation, irrespective of tribe is rare. He has paid his dues but can Ijaw produce another Edwin Clark? It’s difficult seeing Clark’s selfless disposition, building people without prejudice. When military invaded Gbaramatu in Delta, in search of Tompolo, there was no voice heard that pricked the conscience of the nation like Chief Clark. He wept, refused food and his health worsened, neglecting self for his people. We must restrict scavengers from polluting legitimate struggle, reaping where they did not sow. What is PNDPC bringing that PANDEF is not doing excellently? What pedigree have these characters shown to demand the burden of leadership? We must restrict political rodents from defacing identity, leadership is not tea sessions but commitment, not harem of wives or fleet of cars but burning night candles for solutions.
Clark’s accusers are blackmailers; fit and intellectually stable at 90 years, he tackled President Yar’Adua privately for calling him father and restrained from criticising him publicly. Clark’s effort led to creation of ministry of Niger Delta and nominated the pioneer minister. Clark’s demand led to Niger-Delta master plan and construction of the South-east uncompleted road, the amnesty programme and reconciliatory efforts were Clark’s statesmanship, oil production was stable under Yar’Adua and Jonathan because of Clark.
President Jonathan followed Yar’Adua footsteps by calling Clark his father. Clark never criticised Jonathan publicly but engaged him privately. Mischief makers claim Clark was a beneficiary of Jonathan but was it Jonathan who made Clark relevant under Col. Ogbemudia, Gen. Gowon, President Shagari and subsequent Nigerian leaders? Those who lack knowledge are ignorant. Clark was frustrated by some Jonathan’s policies but either invited him or visited the villa to counsel but some were unheeded. Jonathan’s beneficiaries in Niger-Delta today heap present frustrations on Clark but they forget leadership is not stomach activism.
Clark’s leadership is incontrovertible, wisdom in old age built on merit, and we must differentiate Niger-Delta leadership fromIjaw leadership as Clark towers above all. Niger-Delta is raped economically, the struggle for leadership is self-egoism. They don’t shoulder burden like Isaac Adaka Boro, Ken Saro Wiwa and Clark because understanding of leadership is not tears, tribulation, suffering but pleasure. This is bane of miscreants destroying region’s development.
Clark a unifying voice since 1970s is not wealthy but lives on good name. During the civil war, he was a voice of unity and reconciliation. At over 90 years, Clark does not desire material gains or fame, rather bequeathing good legacy. His children are standing tall on their feet because he made them understand they do not have him for patronages. Clark did not used public service to benefit family because it negates his principles. Clark his father, Fuludu his grandfather and Ambakaderemo his great grandfather whose big compound was compared to Oba of Benin palace by British intelligence did same. When envy drives a greedy servant to take his master’s sit for want of glory, honour is sacrificed. Rebellion against Clark’s leadership is sacrilege.
Mr. Abugo is SA, Social Advocacy/Director of Orientation, Delta State.
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