Clark: Why We Endorsed Atiku   

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By Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Ijaw leader and Convener of Pan-Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark, has taken a swipe at those who said he and other South-south group collected money to endorse the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, saying he supported the endorsement because of Atiku’s commitment towards restructuring Nigeria.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo, an apex Igbo socio-cultural group; Afenifere, a socio-cultural organisation of the Yoruba, and the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), were among the five groups, which endorsed Atiku last week.

The spokesman of President Muhammadu Buhari campaign, Festus Keyamo, had described the endorsement as a fraud while some of the president’s supporters said it was based on financial inducement.

But speaking at a meeting with some South-south leaders who paid him a visit at his Abuja residence at the weekend, Clark said the former vice president was sincere about pursuing the restructuring course.

He expressed disgust over the allegation, adding that he could feed the family of those claiming he was bought over.

“Our message is that if you want to restructure Nigeria you are our man, if you don’t want to restructure then you not a man. Those who said we have taken money from Atiku to take this position, fail to realize that I can feed them and their households,” he said.

“Our salvation is with the restructuring of this country. President Buhari said if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us but I am saying if we don’t restructure this country, this country will not survive

“Without restructuring, we are endangered species, we are dying out. This country belongs to all of us and the moment we begin to feel we are not important in this country, it means we are slaves.”

Clark said the report of the committee on restructuring chaired by Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto State Governor, and the one of the All Progressives Congress (APC) chaired by Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna State, are similar to the report of the 2014 national
conference.

He said nothing fruitful came out of the reports because of the president’s stance on restructuring.

“We also noted that the APC, the political party at the centre equally set up a similar powerful committee on restructuring under the chairmanship of the Governor of Kaduna State, el-Rufai, at the end, the committee submitted its report,” he said.

“As a matter of fact, the reports of both committees were similar to that of the 2014 constitutional conference.

“The APC committee was hailed and congratulated by some of us, but the report died a natural death because President Muhammadu Buhari, does not believe in the restructuring of this country.”