• LP candidate okay on restructuring, modular refineries, S’South devt, others
• Why no one can cage an idea which time has come
While the storm created by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter is yet to settle, a statement by the leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, appears to have added more wind speed.
The elder statesman and Ijaw leader, yesterday, called on “Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic, religious and even political backgrounds, to vote for Peter Obi without hesitation, as he is our best hope of a new Nigeria of peace, stability and progress.”
Clark’s letter came barely three days after Obasanjo also endorsed the Labour Party’s (LP) presidential candidate, declaring: ‘‘When one compares their (presidential candidates’) character, antecedent, their understanding, knowledge, discipline and vitality that they can bring to bear and the great efforts required to stay focused on the job, particularly, looking at where the country is today and with the experience on the job that I personally had, Peter Obi, as a mentee, has an edge.”
Clark’s endorsement of Peter Obi, like Obasanjo’s, is expected to further rile other main presidency contenders, who could dismiss the development as inconsequential.
Earlier, the leader of Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, had also pitched tent with Obi ahead of general elections.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, Clark dispelled insinuation that he waited to lend his voice only after Obasanjo had endorsed the LP candidate.
The elder statesman noted that while he scheduled a press conference for the purpose, last Friday, the death of President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, George Obiozor, had compelled him to postpone the event.
He challenged people doubting Obi’s ability to win the presidential election to wait and see what God would do. He further asked rhetorically whether the pessimists were God.
“Leave that to God. Nothing is impossible to God. You will be surprised tomorrow to see that Peter Obi is the President of the country,” Clark said in response to inquiry.
According to Clark, the road to his endorsement began after he gave the directive for a meeting between the national leadership of PANDEF and Obi, which was held in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Friday, December 23, 2022.
He said observations that followed “the successful outcome of the interaction” showed that Peter Obi is committed to “restructuring and devolution of power (and) will promote harmony, peaceful coexistence among the states and constituent parts of the country;
“His vision for more equity and justice, as it pertains to the south-south region, which in the past 60 years has produced much of the revenue for the national economy, but has been neglected with little impact in terms of infrastructure and social development – is convincing and commendable;
“(His) commitment to environmental justice, to the cleanup of the Niger Delta polluted communities, is most welcome, given that even the ongoing Ogoni cleanup has been rather slow;
“His commitment to inclusion of qualified persons from the Niger Delta in the national governance process in the future government if elected into power is very reassuring;
“(His) unwavering commitment to reactivation of our ports, development of Blue Economy and maritime sector, and investment in gas sector, developing of modular refineries, are worthy of note.”
Consequently, Clark stated: “Given his (Obi’s) sound educational background, distinguished antecedent in professional life and track record as one of the most outstanding governors this country has ever produced during his tenure in Anambra State and his vision for the country and the Niger Delta in particular, Peter Obi is eminently qualified to lead this country as President.
“Taking all these factors into consideration, and putting Peter Obi side by side with all other candidates being presented by other political parties, I am convinced beyond doubt, that our country, Nigeria, has a great opportunity to elect a phenomenal team, the candidate of the Labour Party, and his Deputy, Senator Datti Baba-Ahmad, as President and Vice President respectively.”
Meanwhile, the Labour Party, yesterday, described its presidential candidate as “an idea which time has come” and, therefore, cannot be caged.
The party described Obi as “phenomenal”, even as it chided businessman, Chief Arthur Eze, over recent comments against the LP candidate’s aspiration.
Eze had, last Monday, distanced himself from Obi’s ambition, saying the former Anambra State governor could not win votes in the southwest and the north.
LP’s National Vice Chairman (southeast), Chief Innocent Okeke, in a statement, said the attack is an indication that Obi has something to offer.
In a related development, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) called on all Nigerians to obtain their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) and vote for credible leaders in the forthcoming elections.
The group, in a communiqué issued after a special extraordinary meeting of its Expanded General Purpose Committee (EGPC), in Abuja, said Nigerians should freely choose the best candidates and vote for those who will lead with justice, fairness, and righteousness.
The communiqué, jointly signed by the Secretary-General, NSCIA, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, and Director of Administration, NSCIA, Zubairu Haruna Usman-Ugwu, said there is an urgent need to raise the bar of leadership in Nigeria beyond basic qualifications.
The group urged the Federal Government to ensure free, fair, peaceful and credible general elections in 2023 by providing the necessary environment through adequate voter mobilisation and appropriate security measures.
It, however, added: “Nigerians should evolve a standard process of electing not only eligible candidates but also suitable ones because the eligibility criteria are too general to the extent that unsuitable people ultimately get elected to the positions of authority.”