Stephen Ukandu News/Features Editor, with Our Reporter, Abuja
Elder statesman and Chairman, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, has argued that Nigeria should allow the Igbo to have their own independent country instead of subjecting them to be second class-citizens.
Chief Clark, while featuring on Arise News Television programme on Tuesday, said it made no sense keeping Igbos in Nigeria when they could not be supported to actualise their political aspirations in a united Nigeria.
Chief Clark also reinforced the earlier position of the Southern and Middle Belt leaders that there would be no Nigeria again should the major political parties fail to give their presidential tickets to Southern aspirants.
He regretted that Nigeria is still treating the Igbo with the civil war mentality, warning that Nigeria should not push the Igbo into questioning their decision to surrender during the war.
“I believe that if we have to come back together and the Igbo are now part of us, we should not do anything to remind them: why did you surrender during the war?
“If you want the Igbo to be second class citizens in the country, Gowon should have allowed them to go. There is no moral justification for keeping second class people in the country.
“When Lugard created Nigeria in 1914, he didn’t say some people should be slaves to others.
“There will be no peace. There children are growing up. They are asking questions. If this zoning which will heal the Igbo leg is not done, Nigeria is not safe.
“What will an Igbo man tell his children? After the war you cannot be President? You have the lowest allocation? No way!
“Do you want to have a country where you alone will rule, and others will be slaves? No way! If rotation is jettisoned there will be no Nigeria. It’s not enough to say we won’t vote!
“Until we have peaceful Nigeria where all of us are equal; where our children can aspire to any position, there will be trouble even after I’m gone.
Chief Clark who profusely advocate for power shift to South-East in 2023, accused the Northern political elite especially those in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, of opposing power shift to South-East.
“The APC has been prevaricating. They are waiting for the PDP to throw the presidential race open, then they will change.
“I have heard their National Chairman, Adamu Abdullahi; we were together in 1979 in the NPN. He was Secretary of NPN in Plateau but was suppressing indigenous people.
“The minority of Fulani in Plateau took over power from the indigenes that led to the trouble later.
“All we are saying for peace to reign and for us to stay together in Nigeria is: allow the Igbo to produce the President in 2023. They are the main competent people.”
The former Federal Commissioner for Information went down memory lane and explained that it was hatred against the Igbo that let to be toppling of the Government of former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon.
“The coup that threw Gowon out of office was not due to his ineffectiveness. It was because of the refusal of some people to allow the Igbo to be appointed the General Manager of the NNOC which today is the NNPC (Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation). And because an Igbo man was appointed the GM, there was coup. I will say more about this in my book.”
Clark insisted that without rotation of the presidency, Nigeria would not continue as a united geo-political entity.
He accused the North of displaying ‘born to rule mentality’ which he vowed the South would no longer tolerate.
“If you say zoning or rotation is dead and buried, there will be no Nigeria; nobody will remain in this country as a second-class citizen.
“There are many good Northerners but a few of these Fulani- oriented ones believe that there must be jihad everywhere in Nigeria.”
Clark wondered while the North which dominated the leadership of Nigeria during the military era would be opposed to power shift to the South under democracy.
“We are not threatening anybody but for 30 years the North ruled this country militarily. You say you don’t know what is restructuring, yet your soldiers who were Heads of State carried out restructuring in this country. The created more states for the North, created more Local Government Areas, changed our system, wrote the constitution. What did they not do?
“We think Nigeria just started to exist from 1999. Tafawa Balewa was Prime Minister. It’s not proper for people to mislead this country.”
The elder statesman also took the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, to the cleaners, saying he should have perished his 2023 presidential ambition in support of power shift to the South considering the enormous support he received from the South in 2019 when he was PDP’s presidential flag bearer.
“Atiku is parading himself that Fulani will vote for him. How many Fulani voted for him in 2019?”
Chief Clark warned Southerners against taking up a position of a running mate to any Northern presidential candidate, saying that God will judge anyone that fails to heed the warning.
“Any Southern Governor or former Governor or politician that will agree to make himself a vice to a Northerner in this election is very unpatriotic. He is not a true Southerner, and God will take care of him.”