Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, has declared that the outcome of the 2019 general elections will determine the future of the country.
Clark, who made this assertion at his Asokoro, Abuja residence weekend while playing host to Christian Campaigners of Nigeria led by its Co-ordinator, Rev Ayuba Kantiok, also stated that the nation was at a crossroads with recent lopsided appointments by the federal government as against the principle of federal character.
He emphasised that the forthcoming polls
“will most likely determine the fate of this country not only in the next four years, but actually its future, the future of our children, the future of generations yet unborn”.
According to him, this is why it is important that every facet or groups should be involved “as all hands must be on deck”.
He stressed that the coming election was also important for the citizenry to make some statements “because our national economy has suffered the most negative downturn of recent years.
“We have lost millions of jobs in recent times, the unemployment continues to soar to the rooftop, and prices of even basic foodstuff are now out of the reach of the average Nigerian”.
The former Information Minister in the First Republic expressed concern about the non adherence to the provisions of federal character by President Muhammadu Buhari in his appointments into Boards and agencies.
His words: “This country is at a crossroads today. If you are from certain parts of the country, it is most likely you will not get some jobs, despite provisions on Federal Character in our Constitution.
“For instance, in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which is the engine room of the oil industry, when its Board was constituted, out of a Board of nine members which includes the Chairman, six are from the North, a non-oil producing area; and these six include the present Chief of Staff, whose schedule of duty is already very tight, one is from the South West an oil producing zone, only one is from the South-South which produces 90% of the oil and none from the South East, an oil producing zone”.
He also frowned at the increasing trend of desecrating the nation’s national institutions, particularly the Nigeria Army and the Nigeria Police Force in using them for political gains saying “more and more, certain persons in political class have continued to drag the Police to become surrogates in achieving their nefarious political ends”.
Clark therefore reiterated his support for the restructuring of Nigeria “and will support any Presidential candidate that has the restructuring of this country genuinely at heart and sees it as one of the cardinal things he will do, if elected into office because restructuring will check inequality and injustice, make or force states to be viable as they will begin to think outside the box for survival.
“Powers must and should devolve to the States, in order to make them active. Local Government Councils in this country are in a pitiable state.
States do not feel challenged to develop the resources in their various States; at the end of every month, they come to Abuja to receive hand-outs, to come and share money gotten majorly from oil.
According to him, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, believes in the restructuring of the country, “a belief he has held since 1994 when he served as a member of the Constituent Assembly, together with people like the late Major Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (rtd) and my good friend, Prof. Ihechukwu Madubuike”.
He, therefore, advised the Christian group not to stand aloof in deciding the right leaders for the country saying “you have to encourage your members to be active in politics, to come out and vote in the forth coming elections and in doing this, they must vote their conscience.
“Do not allow people to intimidate you, to coerce you, or give you money which they stole from our common purse”.
Earlier in his address, leader of the Christian group, Rev Ayuba Kantiok, said the movement had a mandate to restore Nigeria with a view to moving the nation forward.
According to him, “We have observed that Nigeria is not working, hence the decision to put this group to rescue Nigeria. We are Christian ministers but we are advancing the cause of Nigeria and not religion. The election is coming in 2019 and we have the mandate of God that is for church to rescue Nigeria. Our campaign is that of justice, inclusiveness which we have observed is not happening. We decided to mobilise the youths to champion this cause.”
Katiok also assured that the Christian group “will no longer anoint people to go and campaign, we are going to take the lead to rescue Nigeria, we are here to launch the justice of our cause for a true Nigeria must be born”.