From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Elder statesmen, Chief Edwin Clark Wednesday alleged that the National Assembly spends about N1 billion annually on effort to review the nation’s constitution without making any headway.
This is even as he has challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to convoke a meeting of representatives of Nigeria to deliberate on the report submitted by the Governor Nasir el-Rufai committee set up by the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) on restructuring.
According to him, the executive orders issued by the president are not sufficient enough for the comprehensive restructuring the people are yearning for.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the former federal commissioner of information asserted that if the APC cannot implement its own committee’s recommendations, it means that it lacks necessary powers under President Buhari’s administration.
Clark said if the Buhari’s administration continues in its perceived injustice by parts of the country, the issue of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Yoruba nation agitators will be a child’s play.
He stressed that he like others were on the departure lodge of their lives but we’re still ready to be tried for treason and thrown into prison for speaking against injustice in the land.
Clark said: “The National Assembly has been spending N1 billion every year on amending the constitution of Nigeria for years now yet they have not been able to make headway.
“So, if the APC is the party ruling Nigeria today, it means it lacks power under President Buhari to implement whatever they want to implement in the interest of Nigeria.
“So, the issue of time does not arise. If they want to do it within six months, it will be carried out. Otherwise, the problem of IPOB will be a child’s play and many others will join.
“Let me warn you that this country does not belong to a few individuals. What IPOB is doing, what the Yorubas are doing is still a child’s play. No other Nigerian is prepared to subjugate himself. We may all join and there will be chaos in this country.”
The elder statesman who warned that no part of the country will remain slaves to the other, l added: “Nigeria must be ready. The prison is not only for thieves, its meant for those who are fighting for the interest of their country. Some of us are ready for treasonable trial. We’re ready to go. Nobody loves this country more than myself. Enough is enough.”
Clark, who is also the leader of the Southern, Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), maintained that the situation of the country has worsened, noting therefore, that he will continue to talk about it till death even though President Buhari is not ready to listen.
“Things are really going very bad in the country. God may mean it for good, but as humans and as fallible as we are, it is fast becoming an issue of great concern to well-meaning Nigerians, and we cannot keep quiet.
“We must continue to talk, and talk as necessary. And like I stated in my Press Statement/Conference I issued/held in the month of September, that even though President Muhammadu Buhari is not ready to listen, I will continue to talk out loud and clear on burning issues in Nigeria, until it pleases God to call me home.
Clark added that the effect of insecurity is biting so hard in every facet of our lives. “There is so much hunger in the land, people can no longer go to the farm because, farmers are killed, raped, maimed.
“Look at the apprehension that people had over the Anambra elections before the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) suspended its sit-at-home order.
“It is important to highlight that the call for restructuring is not anti-Buhari or anti-north, it is a call for equity, fairness and justice; a call for the advancement of Nigeria and Nigerians. President Muhammadu Buhari recognised the importance of restructuring when he contested election as far back as 2011. It was a very prominent agenda item in his manifesto.
“I am informed that it was because of the importance he attached to it, that our young patriot, late Comrade Yinka Odumakin agreed to be his running mate in the 2011 Presidential election. Until Yinka Odumakin’s death, he turned out to be one of Mr. President’s greatest critics, because of his insincere turn around and becoming one of the greatest obstacles of restructuring in Nigeria.
“The South is calling for restructuring; the North is calling for restructuring. The whole country believes in Restructuring.
Restructuring was also one of the key priority issues in his party’s, the APC, Manifesto when it was formed, and during the 2015 presidential campaigns, which he has now abandoned, on assumption of office. For which his party, the APC, faced with stiff opposition for not implementing their promised restructuring programme.
“So, the party’s national executive including President Buhari, decided to set up a committee under the chairmanship of Nasir El-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, with other prominent party members as members of the Committee.
“My fellow Nigerians, I do not think majority of Nigerians, in their demand for restructuring, need more than what is contained in the recommendations of the El-Rufai Committee to move Nigeria forward from an archaic unprogressive unitary form of government to a progressive federal system of government.
“As a member of the 2014 National Conference, I discovered that about 98% of the El-Rufai’s Report are what was already contained in the 2014 National Conference Report which made 600 Recommendations, which are all in public domain.
“Therefore, one wonders the sincerity of President Muhammadu Buhari in the various Executive Orders he has issued. Or is there a small cabal in the Presidency that rules this country without the knowledge of Mr. President, because the Executive Orders Mr. President has issued, especially Executive Order 10, is part of restructuring which even the El-Rufai APC Committee Report has addressed.
“Does it mean that Mr. President believes that he alone can restructure or stop the restructuring of Nigeria, and at his own pace, by issuing Executive Orders, instead of whole heartedly and committedly implementing the 2014 National Conference Report, or the APC’s El-Rufai Report of 2018?
“I challenge Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari as the defacto controller of the APC, to convoke a representative assembly or town hall meeting, to consider only the APC Report on restructuring, if he sincerely believes in the unity of Nigeria, where everyone is a stakeholder, not a Nigeria where only a few or one ethnic group who are in minority, keep displaying autocratic and emperoic stance, reminding us of what their fore-fathers did over 100 years ago, wanting to do same today. Of course, it is a big NO!
“It may be necessary here to remind Nigerians the role played by our illustrious son, late Gen. Murtala Mohammed in the elimination of apartheid in South Africa when he was in office for only six months. It is, therefore, unimaginable and understandable that an officer in the government of Gen. Murtala Mohammed will be the one to create an obstacle or oppose what his former boss instituted. And this was what our beloved late General Murtala Mohammed went to South Africa to fight against.
“We cannot be slaves in our own country.
The National Executive of the APC, in a meeting which was also attended by Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari, himself as party member, accepted the Report of the El-Rufai Committee, and stated that it will be sent to the National Assembly (NASS).
“However, same Mr. President has refused to take any definite action for the Report to be sent to the NASS. What several Nigerians want is actually the restructuring of the country in order to douse the tensions and agitations which is almost tearing the country apart today, and is the main cause of the high insecurity being experienced.
“Nigerians are ready to accept the implementation of the 2014 National Conference, or the APC’s El-Rufai Committee Report, any of which will no doubt satisfy the generality of the Nigerian people.
“It is indeed shameful and unpatriotic for the Leaders of APC to pretend that they have not seen the El-Rufai Committee Report or even the 2014 National Conference Report. Some are even shamelessly stating that they do not know what restructuring means, and allow President Muhammadu Buhari to take over total control and direction of the party’s government; instead, they are more interested in whom is to take over from him in 2023, for which they pretentiously worship him like god just to gain favour.”
The elder statesman accused the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu of being afraid to talk about restructuring because of his 2023 presidential ambition.
He said: “The Tinubus who brought restructuring to the Manifesto of APC have not spoken because they fear that if they do, they will not be allowed to contest for the Presidency of the country, come 2023.
“The former National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie Oyegun and the Chairman of the El-Rufai Committee, Nasir El-Rufai, have consistently stated publicly that the party has taken a decision to restructure the country, and that the Report had been adopted by the national executive of the party.
“Finally, I wish to reinstate that Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the Acting Chairman of Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, was speaking on behalf of the South-West Leadership, South-South Leadership, South-East Leadership and the Middlebelt Leadership, all of which I am the National Leader.
“The umbrella body of the group known as the Southern and Middlebelt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), has been championing the campaign for the restructuring of Nigeria to avoid breakdown of the country by holding meetings with stakeholders from the north including the Northern Elders Forum (NEF).
“We want to reiterate that we are more patriotic than those who do not believe in restructuring of Nigeria, even though we are very well pleased to shame them, because majority of other Nigerians also believe in the restructuring of the country. We, however, wish to advise those minority to follow us, the majority, as we mean well for the country.
“I repeat that this country belongs to all of us and every citizen is qualified to aspire to any position. A situation where some few individuals regard themselves as first class citizens, and others as second-class citizens, is UNACCEPTABLE.
“Nigeria cannot exist under such circumstances!
“President Muhammadu Buhari, by the powers conferred on him by the Constitution of the country, is the most powerful President in the world but he is not using those power to develop and unite the entire country, as Lee Kua Yun did, when he was the Prime Minister of Singapore and rapidly took his country from “Third World to First World, in a rapid manner.”
He made an appeal to President Buhari: “Mr. President, I beg of you, in the name of Almighty God, I am now very close to 95 years, and on behalf of my fellow elders and our children, act NOW.
“We have no other country to call our own, no other country to go to, if Nigeria breaks due to authoritarian attitude of one individual.
“Please retrace your steps and embrace and implement your party’s report, the El-Rufai APC Committee Report. Nigerians will accept it.”