LEADER of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and foremost Ijaw nationalist, Chief Edwin Clark, has advised people of the Niger Delta not to vote for any politician that does not support the restructuring of the country.
He said however that they must be careful not to fall for politicians who merely mouth restructuring without really meaning it.
Clark said the people must ask the presidential candidates about their manifestoes to determine whether it meets the aspirations of the Niger Delta before supporting them.
“If it says restructuring, then vote for that person,” he advised, adding: If this country is restructured, within 10 years, the pattern of life will change.
Speaking while receiving leaders of various youth councils in the region led by the President General of the Niger Delta Nationalities Youth Leaders Council, Peretubo Oweilaemi, at his Asokoro Abuja residence on Wednesday, he regretted that the Niger Delta has been marginalised in the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) even though it produces 98 per cent of the crude oil.
“The thing we produce in our area feeds the whole country. Yet, we are beggars in our own country.
“Could you imagine a situation whereby nine directors in NNPC appointed by President Buhari, six of them are Northerners including the Chief of Staff (to the president), one from South West, one from Niger Delta with all the oil we produce in is country,” he said.
The same thing he said happened in the appointment of NNPC General Managers, which he said had 10 from the North, two from the South West, two from the South-South and none from the East.
He pointed out that Imo and Abia states which also produce crude oil got no representation.
He said out the 55 Managers appointed, 36 came from the North and while the remaining were spread among the other parts of the country.
“So, they control the oil, they maintain it and what do they say? ‘we are ungrateful for anything they give to us, we are troublemakers and so on,” he added.
Clark further stated: “Today, some people say oil flowed from the desert and came to our area, we don’t own it. They won it. They are now managing it.
“We are saying, restructure this country. If you restructure the country, whatever is produced in your area, you manage it at your own pace,” he asserted.
The elder statesman, however, appealed to the youths to remain calm, saying that with God on their side, they will prevail.
He said the country must be restructured to allow all the component parts to develop at its own pace as it was in the first republic.
The one time Federal Commissioner of Education observed that there is the perception that the country as it is now is “lopsided, deliberately constituted to oppress some people,” saying that the people must continue to speak their minds.
Chief Clark, whose residence was searched by the police last Tuesday, said he decided to accept the police apology over the incident because he wanted to avert war in the Niger Delta.
He said: “So, they (police) came and apologised, they disowned those boys but I said don’t. We are no fills. Those boys have no powers to come and search my house.
“When they were here, somebody her phoned an Assistant Inspector General of Police and he answered.
“When my people went to their office, the boys did not stop on their own, they took them to their boss. So, don’t lie to me. But the apology, I have accepted it because of Nigerians.
“And if I don’t, problem will take place in the Niger Delta. I hear the boys and the girls are already gathering in Port Harcourt, in Yenegoa, WARRI and so on, even up to Arogbo in Ondo state.
“I have to accept it their apology in the interest of peace and in the interest of our country. But go and make it public. And so, they did.”
He affirmed that he had written a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari demanding that the matter be investigated to fish out those who were responsible for it.
Clark said instead of embarrassing him, the police only succeeded in embarrassing themselves.
In his remark, the leader of the delegation demanded that the police publicly parade the officers involved in the search of Clark’s residence, otherwise, it would be seen that the police lied.
He said the people of the Niger Delta wanted to know the officers and be assured that they were not merely moved by the police to continue their service other areas.
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