•Buhari, Jonathan congratulate Clark at 92
Deji Elumoye and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Elder statesman and former Federal Commissioner of Information, Chief Edwin Clarke yesterday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to evolve more practical strategies towards addressing the rising level of insecurity and poverty in the country.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Goodluck extolled Clarke’s virtues on the occasion of his 92nd birthday anniversary, commending him for remaining committed in his advocacy for equity, resource and environmental justice.
Clarke made the call at his Asokoro residence, Abuja on his 92nd anniversary, frowning at the manner in which politicians and respected leaders “encourage nepotism, favoritism, religious and ethnic sentiments pointing out that these had promoted hatred and disunity in the country.”
Concerned about the rising incidence of insecurity nationwide, Clarke said he chose not to celebrate his birthday because of the issues of insecurity and biting hardship, which according to him, had become daily experience of Nigerians across the federation.
He said, “I am pained; my heart bleeds for our dear Country, Nigeria. And it is the reason why l have decided not to celebrate, again, this time. I cannot be celebrating when people are being killed, maimed, rendered homeless.
I cannot be celebrating when kids who could be my grandchildren and great grandchildren are abducted and held captive. Here are lots of things wrong, ranging from the question of equality and diversity, economy, infrastructural development; unemployment; lack of power and most importantly; security.
“I have decided to dwell my 92nd Birthday message again on security, because the security situation all over the country is very troubling and is gravely affecting every facet of the country’s activity. The nation’s Constitution is clear when it states that the primary responsibility of government is to secure lives and property.”
Clark said the issue of security has become a bane and national/international embarrassment for us as a people and a nation.
He lamented that killing, kidnapping, rape, burning down of towns and villages, cattle rustling have now become the order of the day perpetrated by a group which the federal government has identified as ‘bandits,’ ‘herdsmen.’
Yet, the elder statesmen claimed that nothing “is being done to arrest them, rather it is alleged that government officials collude with the criminals.”
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to strive towards achieving strong unity to be able to fight insurgency which he noted was pushing the country to the brink.
Clark further emphasised that the Federal Government’s effort to revive agriculture was becoming a mirage because of the increasing cases of banditry, kidnappings, Boko Haram and herdsmen attacks.
In a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu,Buhari paid tribute to Clarke, who served as Information Minister during the regime of General Yakubu Gowon.
Buhari noted that “even if you don’t agree with the elder statesman sometimes, you must acknowledge his patriotism and commitment to peace.”
Buhari noted that “peace building is one of the greatest contributions we should expect of our elders, and I am proud that Chief Edwin Clark has played this role remarkably during trying times in our country.’’
He said the president described the nonagenarian as a man of strong convictions who doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind on national issues.
The president added, “This gentleman expresses his mind without malice, one of the outstanding virtues of a statesman that he is.’’
“While felicitating with you on this joyous occasion, accept my best wishes and deepest goodwill of my government.
“You have served your country with distinction and untainted record. You should be proud of this legacy. The country would always look up to you to tap from your fountain of wisdom.”
Also in his congratulatory message, Jonathan said, “I am grateful to God for blessing Nigeria and the Niger Delta with someone like you. Your patriotism and commitment to nation-building is evident in your legacies both as a public servant and as a private citizen.
“You made significant contributions to Nigeria’s growth and development while serving the nation as a regional and federal commissioner in different political dispensations and you have continued to serve her as a foremost leader and statesman.
“Even in old age, you have remained committed in your advocacy for equity, resource and environmental justice, especially in the Niger Delta. You have been at the forefront of different peace-building initiatives with a view to building a united and prosperous nation.
“You remain a role model to the younger generation and an icon of service and sacrifice. l pray God Almighty who has blessed you with age, strength and wisdom continue to grant you sound health and multiply His grace upon you as you celebrate.”