Ijaw leader,Chief Edwin Clark, has told ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo to stop sewing seeds of discord in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), retire to his Ota farm and keep quiet.
Eighty-six-year-old Chief Clark believes that Nigeria, the PDP have had enough of Chief Obasanjo’s troubles, adding that President Goodluck Jonathan can do without “open and deliberate interference” from him.
The Second Republic Senator and Federal Commissioner for Information in the Gowon military administration accused the former President of instigating Governors Sule Lamido of Jigawa State and Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State to have a go at the Presidency in the 2015 elections, thereby precipitating the crisis that has now engulfed the ruling party.
He spoke in an interview with The Nation, details of which are published in this edition.
Chief Clark said Lamido, Amaechi and their counterparts from Sokoto (Aliyu Wamakko),Adamawa (Murtala Nyako), Kano (Rabiu Kwankwaso) and Niger (Babangida Aliyu) were not behaving like disciplined party members and should be made to toe the party line or get kicked out.
Said he of Obasanjo: “He gives the impression that he wants to be involved in the reconciliation process of the party, particularly amongst the governors. But that is not true. If there is any problem today that Chief Obasanjo wants to participate in solving, it is the problem he created.
“ He was the one who said that he wanted Lamido the Governor of Jigawa State and Rotimi Amaechi the Governor of Rivers State to contest the 2015 election as presidential candidates. Even on this year’s Democracy Day on 29th May, when former heads of state and former presidents, including 87-year-old President Shehu Shagari, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Chief Ernest Shonikan, were with President Goodluck Jonathan, former President Obasanjo was still busy in Dutse, Jigawa State, eulogising Lamido, to the extent of crediting to the Jigawa State Government the beautiful road from Kano to Jigawa, which is a Federal Government road built by President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Nigeria is greater than everybody. In a situation where you have a Federal Government, the Constitution empowers the President to govern the country. You should allow the President to govern the country as he himself did, without open and deliberate interference from former heads of state.
“You can give advice quietly, but not to make derogatory statements about the government. For instance, sometime ago, he said in Switzerland that this administration does not have the courage to eradicate corruption in the country. You want to nominate everybody into the government of Mr. President? The man has respected you, given you due privilege to do what you want to do.”
Chief Clark cited the PDP crisis in Obasanjo’s geo-political zone of South West, saying: ”The problem of the party in the South West today is caused by him. Ogun State today has no functional PDP. The Ogun State governorship would not have gone to ACN if he had not forced his own candidate on the people, and if he had not disagreed with the former Governor of Ogun State, Chief Olugbenga Daniel.
“Ogun State today has two important ministers: the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Agriculture. These are very key ministries. So, why should the PDP not be strong in Ogun State?
“The Party is scattered in the South West because of him. We lost all the states in the South West in the last election because people feel that when you work for a party, you must gain something. The dividends of democracy must spread round.
“So, all I am saying is that for him creating these problems and belatedly jumping into the band wagon of reconciliation without being invited by the party because new zonal congress has to be held in the (South) West, and because he will like to have his favoured candidate to win the gubernatorial election in Anambra State, and also because he has now seen that the party has not fallen apart after his resignation from the chairmanship of the party’s Board of Trustees, is improper.
“It must be remembered that President Olusegun Obasanjo, before leaving office, amended the PDP Constitution whereby only a former president could become the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party. He thought that with this amendment, he would automatically become the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, which would enable him to influence the Federal Government from (his) Ota farm as published in El-Rufai’s book, The Accidental Public Servant.
“By this amendment, he pushed Chief Tony Anenih out unceremoniously. Unfortunately, he did not realise what he bargained for. Corruption, as epitomised by former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s modus operandi, is one of the problems plaguing this country today.
“As far as I am concerned, the former President of this country should conduct himself as a father. He should desist from making statements that will bring tension in the country. He should be in a position where people take advice from him; not for him to be going from place to place giving the impression that all is not well with this country, particularly when he visits some governors whom he perceives as having some misunderstanding with the Presidency.
“There is time available to offer service to your country. There is time to retire with dignity and remain at home. So, one of the areas I will like to mention/advise our most respected former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is that as I mentioned earlier, he should stay at home. Those who want to consult with him will go to him. He should not debase the office of a former President of the country or create controversies.”
On the ‘errant’ governors,Chief Clark said the PDP must “be firm, resolute and discipline must be enforced. Nobody is above the law. Any errant member of the Party must be brought to book.”
He added: “Everybody is ambitious; they want to be this or that. So, there is no law and order. There is no respect for the party. Nobody controls them. Every one of them makes speeches. There must be discipline.
“I agree that the problems of PDP are partly caused by the Governor’s Forum, where the governors want to dictate to the party leaders. They want to be the people to nominate and accredit members to the congresses and conventions of the party. They want to nominate who should be a minister from their states. They want to nominate board members.
“In doing that, there arises a crack between the party and the governors. Today, we have sounded a warning that the Governor’s Forum is unconstitutional. They have defied the Constitution of Nigeria with impunity, and they have no regard for party’s supremacy.”
He said Amaechi, in particular, has no regard for the PDP.
His words: “Rotimi Amaechi has become supreme. He no longer has regard for his party. That’s indiscipline. Either he gets out of the party or he toes the party line. That arrogance must be stopped and his open romance with the opposition must also stop. His financial contribution to the opposition must also stop.”
He said Governors Lamido, Aliyu, Wamako, Kwankwaso and Nyako “are trying to make this country ungovernable for Mr. President, in the name of ‘gang of five.’ I think if they are loyal party members and they are dissatisfied with the party’s administration, their consultation should be limited to the party hierarchy and, of course, there is a Party Reconciliation Committee headed by the Governor of Bayelsa State, Hon. Seriake Dickson.
“They are not faithful to the party and they have their secret agenda. It is amazing to see these five governors parading themselves as saints when, in fact, most of them breach the party’s constitution to be installed as governors by the former President in 2007. Most of them were not elected in the primaries. “Curiously, this ‘gang of 5’ governors should focus their attention on the security crisis facing their states… They do not even care for the welfare of the victims of Boko Haram in their states. Instead of staying in their states, they are moving from state to state causing confusion and tension. I think they should be ashamed of themselves for a mission unaccomplished. They should suspend them, discipline them, so that they are not allowed to disturb the party. Nobody is greater than the party. Even the President is not.”