Former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark
By Chuks Okocha
Leader of Delta State Elders Council and former Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, Wednesday gave an indication of a convocation of a national conference meant to allow all component units to decide the fate of the country for the first time.
Clark said the conference became necessary in the light of the uncertainties on the future of the Nigerian federation, which according to him, had been bogged down by massive corruption and attendant security breaches.
Clark said the need for a national conference had compelled intelligentsia from the 17 states in the southern Nigeria to meet in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital some few months ago, where they unanimously agreed to press for the agenda.
The Ijaw leader said the North has agreed to the idea of having the Federal Government convene the conference which according him is what Nigeria requires to strengthen its unity and togetherness.
Accordingly, leaders drawn from all southern states, according to Clark, would be meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan immediately after the celebration of the country’s Independence in October on the aegis of Southern Nigerian Peoples Assembly.
The southern group, the first of its kind since independence, he stated, now has a constitution of its own and would henceforth be meeting periodically like its counterpart from the North, just to brain storm on issues to discuss when the national conference finally gets under way.
He said the representatives of the northern leaders would equally meet with President Jonathan on the same issue, stressing that it was after the wider consultations with the Federal government on the issue that the date of the conference would be known.
According to him, “Now that we have all agreed, it would be very easy after the Independence anniversary for us to meet with the President. In fact, the leaders of the southern Nigeria which we now called Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly have now had the constitution of our own. We are not against anybody; we are to build bridges meant to strengthen Nigeria.
“The only way we can relate meaningfully now is for the three region in the North and the three regions in the south to meet and discuss areas of common interest in a manner that would make us relate better, appreciate our areas of differences better and act together as one people and one nation.
“Very soon, we will all meet with President Jonathan and the good thing is that the President had agreed that the country needs a national dialogue on issues that cannot be settled by mere committees and other bodies. We need to tackle the issue of Boko Haram, corruption and other issues. Everybody must participate,” he explained.
However, Clark allayed fears on the issue of the National conference, stressing that the essence was to galvanise the support of every Nigerian for talks on the country’s unity, which according to him, had remained shaky for quite some time.
He said since the South-east had always wanted Nigeria to operate a true federation, so also the South-west, the South-south and the Middle Belt, and whereas the northern region too was beginning to appreciate the necessity for a national dialogue to discuss the peculiar problems of Nigeria, it would be necessary for the country to hold the national conference.