The clamour for President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term in office continued yesterday as some South-south chiefs, elders and leaders yesterday voiced their support for him in the forthcoming general election, saying 2015 is not negotiable.
This was as the Ijaw leader and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, declared that if the South-south could support former president, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who was removed by Muhammadu Buhari in a coup for two terms, there was no reason why the North should not support Jonathan for two terms.
The South-south leaders, elders and chiefs mandated its Board of Trustees (BoT) headed by the former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mike Okiro, to drive the process of mobilising support for the president in collaboration with the executive committee of the South-south community.
Speaking at the 2014 induction/inauguration of BoT of the South-south elders, chiefs and leaders, the coordinator of the group and chairman planning committee, Chief Bello Premier, called for the integration of South-south community in Abuja into the mainstream of social political dynamics of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to accord it appropriate recognition as is the case of other regional group.
Clark, who is the grand patron of the South-south group, said in Nigeria, no community was superior to the other, adding that Abuja, which was developed by the South-south money does not belong to anybody.
Clark faulted former President Olusegun Obasanjo, whom he said was one of the richest men in Nigeria today but only had N20, 000 in his account when he was released from Yola prison to contest the 1999 presidential election.
He added that the former president was only busy pretending to be innocent today.
“I think one of the problems facing us in this country is the issue of settler and indigene. In this country nobody is superior to the other. Abuja does not belong to anybody, it belong to all of us. The money used to develop Abuja came from South-south. Because we are Nigerian, we accepted. Nobody owns it more than the other. Anybody is entitled to contest for any election in Abuja. Nobody owns this place.
“The problem with the militants started in 1998. Somebody invited the South-south youths to Abuja and they saw bridges built on land whereas in their waters there are no bridges. They went back and started the militancy.
“Don’t exclude us from the scheme things, Nigeria belong to all of us, don’t practice double standard. In 1983, we voted en mass for Shagari and he stayed for eight years, it was Buhari who removed him. In 1999 they said because of what they did to Abiola, they said they should compensate the South-west and Obasanjo was brought out from Yola prison and he was only having N20,000 in his account and today he is one of the richest man in Nigeria. And today he is claiming to be innocent.
“We cannot continue to feed this country and we are not ruling the country. When Obasanjo wanted Yar’Adua to become the president, he blackmail everybody.
“How many of the northerners came to me to say that Jonathan should step down and allow the North to finish their four year term and I told them you are not well.
“People think that we from the South-south are second class citizens and we say no. When we reply critics, they say we are enemies of Jonathan.”
Speaking on the issue of security, former Assitant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Felix Oguado, called on the northern elders to copy from South-south elders, how they were able to convince the militants in the Niger Delta to drop their arms.
“If the elders in the Niger Delta can go to the creek and speak to the militant and they drop their arms, why can’t the elders of the North do same. We should stop blaming the government and do something. It is not the best to apportion blame on the government each time something happened. People talk of sharing the cake, but they never talk of how the cake is baked.
“Our foremost challenge now is Boko Haram. Nigeria is difficult country to govern. No matter who rule there will always be criticism. Like the president said you cannot dialogue with faceless people. The militant were brought to Abuja and they met with President Yar’Adua,” he said.
He, however, appealed to those who kidnapped President Jonathan foster’s father to release him.