Elder statesman and former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, has described the naming of the railway complex in Agbor, Delta state, after former President Goodluck Jonathan, as an insult.
Addressing the media virtually,yesterday, Clark said the naming of the station after Jonathan was not a compliment, especially for a man who was the brain behind the resuscitation of rail transportation in the country, particularly the Abuja to Kaduna rail project.
Clark said he had written an open letter to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to reconsider withdrawing the naming of the Agbor station after Jonathan and instead a national monument should be named after the former president.
President Buhari had approved the naming of some railway stations along the Lagos-Ibadan and Itakpe/Ajaokuta/Aladja/Warri corridors after some citizens.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former Senate leader, late Olusola Saraki; Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka; late Premier of Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo; former Lagos state governors, Alhaji Lateef Jakande and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, were among those honoured with rail stations named after them.
Amaechi had decribed the beneficiaries as deserving citizens that had contributed to the progress and development of their respective communities and the nation at large.
Jonathan had described the naming of the station after him as a good gesture.
But the foremost Ijaw leader described the gesture as demeaning, maintaining that Jonathan deserves a national honour for ceding power to President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said grouping Jonathan along with other less prominent citizens of the country in the railway stations naming honours’ list, was unfair, urging Buhari not do to Jonathan what he would not want to be done to him.
According to Clark, even if Jonathan accepted the honour “because he is a gentleman and will not want to complain to Buhari,” the Ijaw people will not.
“Jonathan was the President of the whole nation. We don’t like anybody to make a mess of him,” he said.
He said if Jonathan and Awolowo had not been grouped with others, he would probably have accepted the honours, recalling that when people rejected the naming of UNILAG after late MKO Abiola, government renamed the Abuja stadium after him, which he observed was a more befitting honour.
“I’m using Ameachi to tell Mr. President that what he will not like to be done to him, he should not do it to others,” he said.
Clark letter to Amaechi read: “My dear the Hon. The Minister of Transportation, First, I hope this letter will not come to you as a surprise, even as I also apologise for making it open.
“My main reason for writing this letter is on the recent action by the Federal Government and the Ministry of Transportation which is currently under your watch, that is, the naming of the Agbor Railway Station after His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, the immediate past President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“While it is said to be an honour on the former President by the Federal Government and the Ministry of Transportation, because it is a known fact that the resuscitation of rail transport is one of the legacy projects of the former President, but for us in the Niger Delta and indeed to well-meaning Nigerians, this ‘honour’, diminishes the prestige of a former President when the honour is also bestowed on others.
“One is not in any way adducing that the others are not deserving of the honour bestowed on them, but the same way official responsibilities differ in importance and risks, same consideration should be borne in mind when honouring people.