Chief Edwin Clark,
• Accuses Obasanjo of sowing seed of discord in PDP
First Republic Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, Thursday launched a broadside against former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors.
Clark, a prominent Ijaw leader, said at a news conference in Abuja that the PDP governors had turned themselves into an opposition party to the Federal Government and had become a threat to the peace and stability of the country.
He, however, blamed Obasanjo and a former PDP National Chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, for sowing the seed of crisis that could consume the party if not well handled.
He also said if President Goodluck Jonathan decided to run in the 2015 presidential election, Obasanjo could not stop him as only the electorate can decide Jonathan’s political fate.
According to him, “The (PDP) Governors’ Forum is now acting as an opposition party to the Federal Government. It deliberately breaches with impunity the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the constitution of the PDP, without any challenges.
“The forum has now become a threat to the peace and stability of Nigeria. Most of the governors today are more dictatorial than the then military governors.”
Clark blamed the crisis in the party on the governors whom he accused of hijacking almost every organ of the party.
He said: “The ugly truth is that today the PDP as a political party is no longer in control of its various organs and for some time now, proper elections at congresses and conventions have not been held democratically due to the imposition of unqualified members on the good members of the party, thus contravening Section 87(4) of the Amendment Electoral Act 2011 & Independent National Electoral Commission’s Law.”
He noted that in the United States where the idea of the governors’ forum originated, the forum served as a peer review group to commend and condemn actions of their colleagues and expressed regrets that the situation is not the case in Nigeria.
“The governors made no comments about Chief James Onanefe Ibori, former governor of Delta State all through his trial and conviction for corruption both in Nigeria and in London.
“Neither did they condemn their Sokoto State colleague who was accused of beating up a fellow Nigerian worker in this civilised world.
“But they conspicuously support their colleagues for no good reasons. For instance, they had no reason to hold Mr. President to ransom over the gubernatorial struggles in Bayelsa State between Chief Timipre Sylva and Seriake Dickson. Thus, the gubernatorial contest in Bayelsa State assumed a national dimension as a result of the forum’s interference.
“The recent action of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP, in which 10 of the members met to take a decision, even when the national chairman was available and did not authorise his deputy to act for him, clearly showed that there was problem in the party.
“Instead of the forum to join other party leaders to resolve this problem, it arrogantly supported one side of the dispute.
“The controversy in Adamawa State is being fuelled by the governors’ forum by declaring its unholy support for the governor of the state, Murtala Nyako.
“The forum did not see anything wrong with Governor Nyako’s ambition of nominating his wife as the chief judge of the state,” he added.
Not done with criticising the governors, Clark also accused them of subjecting the legislatures in their states to their whims and caprices by ensuring that they determine not only those to run for elections into the state Houses of Assembly, but also by influencing the appointment of principal officers of the House.
“The state Houses of Assembly have no financial independence, and very unfortunately, the state Houses of Assembly are afraid to adopt the constitution amendment exercise to grant them financial autonomy.
“It is for fear of all these that members of the public have strong reservations about granting or devolving more powers to the states for fear of abuse by governors.
“A clear example is the issue of state police, which ideally should exist in a federation. Quite simply, the people no longer trust the governors. Our democracy is today imperilled because of the excesses of the governors who have put themselves and their interest over and above the interest of the nation,” he said.
Clark, who described PDP as a factionalised and disunited party, said: “There is no unity in the party; it is fragmented everywhere. For instance, in Ogun State a former president of the nation under the flagship of the party and until recently the BoT chairman lost the election in the state due to factionalisation of the party. Currently, there are three factions of the party in the state.
“One is headed by the former president of the nation, the next one is headed by Chief Gbenga Daniel, a former governor of the state, and the third is headed by Kashamu Buruji.
“The secretariat of the party in that state is today under lock and key, yet this former president is parading himself all over the country as an indispensable ruler and party leader, causing confusion rather than sitting back home as a former president and political leader whose residence should be a political pilgrim."
In accusing Obasanjo of destroying PDP, he said: “President Olusegun Obasanjo used his military antecedents, indoctrination and perceptual conceptualisation to obliterate the known practice of the distinction of the party chairmanship with the leadership, and office of the president,” stressing that it was through this approach that Obasanjo installed Chief Barnabas Gemade as the party chairman instead of the popular Chief Sunday Awoniyi.
“It was Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and the former National Chairman of the party, Senator Ahmadu Ali, who for their own interest, frustrated all the founding fathers of the party and party faithful by de-registering most of the founding members of the party,” Clark said.