The All Progressives Congress (APC) and Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, have taken a swipe at elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, for urging President Goodluck Jonathan to remove the democratic structures in the three states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.
Gaidam, described the former Federal Commissioner for Information and renowned Ijaw leader as "ill-informed, malicious and vindictive," urging President Jonathan to call him to order.
Their positions came on the heels of the release of a new date for its national convention by the convention committee which will now come up on June 12 and 13 instead of June 14.
The new date was announced yesterday by the Chairman, Publicity/Media relations subcommittee of the convention committee, Rotimi Fashakin.
The party's interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said the change in date was due to its inability to secure the use of the Eagle Square venue of the convention on June 14.
While stating its position on the three states currently under state of emergency over the activities of the terror group Boko Haram, APC said any move to declare full emergency rule would confer unfair advantage to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by Mohammed, the party said apart from pushing the president to commit an unconstitutional act, Clark was also working to help the PDP devise an undemocratic way to win elections in 2015 by forcefully overthrowing elected officials in the state.
It said Clark's outburst against the Attorney-General of the Federation for ''misadvising'' the president on the declaration of emergency in the three states was not aimed at clipping the wings of the insurgents but simply to give an unfair advantage to a party that had given the chief juicy patronage, so that his gravy train would not derail.
APC said contrary to insinuations by the federal government, the three state governments had given the troops deployed to their states unprecedented support both in cash and kind, without which the war on terror would have been harder to fight.
''The Borno State Government, for example, has provided equipment and logistics worth N10 billion to the military, and this includes the provision of armoured personnel carriers (APC), 400 brand new patrol vehicles, regular fuelling, provision of accommodation for soldiers and cash as immediate palliatives to families of slain soldiers, training, kitting and payment of stipends to civilian volunteers and robust intelligence support for the military using residents, hunters, vigilantes and the traditional institutions.
''It therefore baffles any informed observer how this massive support could have hindered the fight against Boko Haram, as Clark insinuated in his unnecessary diatribe, which he made with his usual flair,'' the party said.
The party therefore raises a number of questions: ''Will the removal of the elected officials in the three states improve security in the states and immediately end the insurgency? Will it make the army better equipped? Will it provide better intelligence?
Will it scare Boko Haram away? Will it increase the number of troops? Will it improve military logistics and planning? Will it inspire the people or build their confidence and sense of security? Will it translate to a better trained and nimble military force?
''Won't the removal of the officials eliminate a critical logistic and coordination infrastructure? Won’t it eliminate the very support system the military has depended on in those states? Won’t it eliminate a major rallying point and support system for the victims and residents of these states? Won’t it eliminate a major interface that even the military itself uses to engage the people? Won’t it eliminate a critical component of coordination and intelligence gathering? Won’t it eliminate the most critical resource for succor, support and alleviation to the communities suffering under this terrorist siege?''
APC said the simple answer to the orchestrated rabble rousing by the ever pesky Clark is that he and his ilk are seeking to give an undue advantage to the PDP ahead of the 2015 general election, since the three states involved are all opposition states where the PDP knows it can not win a free, fair and transparent elections either today or at any time
The party said the elder statesman should endeavour to rise above the fray and put the national interest above sectional considerations in their efforts to help seek an end to the insurgency that has claimed over 12,000 innocent lives since 2009.
It said it was the same mindset as Clark's that had largely stifled the Jonathan administration's efforts to decisively tackle the Boko Haram insurgency.
''From the out set, the Jonathan administration resorted to crying wolf where there is none, labelling the opposition and the so-called northern elite of being the sponsors of Boko Haram and trying desperately to label it as a religious war. When that fails, the same government now wants to profit from the same insurgency it blames on the opposition and others. There is no way the Jonathan administration can eat its cake and have it.
''Removing the governors of the three states under a state of emergency and replacing them with PDP members or those with sympathy for the party, as the Clarks of this world are advocating, cannot be the panacea to the terrorist activities of Boko Haram. It can only give the ruling party an unfair electoral advantage and further worsen the anti-terror fight.
''We therefore reject this satanic postulation and again reiterate our stand that Boko Haram is an enemy of Nigeria, of Christians and Muslims, northerners and southerners, the rich and the poor, the elite and the ordinary citizens, hence we must all forge a common national front against the bandits rather than engage in divisive and partisan tactics,'' APC said.
Meanwhile, Gaidam has warned Clark to "respect his very old age and either speak with decorum and facts or keep quiet."
The Yobe State governor in a statement by his Special Adviser on Press Affairs and Information, Mallam Abdullahi Bego, said: "Once again, we are constrained to re-state our position with regard to the state of emergency extended again by the Jonathan administration in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States a few weeks ago and speak to the barefaced lies, vitriol and provocative statements made by one ethnic champion from the South-south part of the country called Chief Edwin Clark."
He said: "Clark was reported by several news media, including Vanguard of Wednesday, June 4, 2014, as repeating his malicious, vindictive and ill-informed call on President Jonathan to declare what he called ‘full emergency rule’ in the three northeast states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa on the basis of dubious inferences and grounds of null validity."
The statement further stated: "More gravely, Clark is reported as describing Governors Gaidam of Yobe, Shettima of Borno and Nyako of Adamawa States as “conspirators who are hiding under the guise of opposition to foster their political nests (sic) and display their politics of bitterness, hatred, ethnicity and religion to disparage him (sic) and scuttle Jonathan’s constitutional right to seek a second term as guaranteed by the 1999 constitution.”
The statement added: "First, we condemn in the strongest terms this totally unwarranted attack on the persons of the three state governors. We take the strongest possible exception to Clark’s vitriolic and totally baseless statements. We ask that he respects his very old age and either speak with decorum and facts or keep quiet.
"Second, we ask President Jonathan, in whose defence Clark is apparently speaking, to call him to order and make it clear that he (Jonathan) is the president of the whole country and not a section of it. This call has become necessary because, by his carriage and utterances, Clark is pretending that he personally made Jonathan president and not the Nigerian people."
“The statement went further to state that: "It is also important to state, once again, that no section of the constitution of our country ever envisioned the appointment of a sole or military administrator in any of the 36 states of the federation under the prevailing democratic order and that Clark’s repeated analogy of the scenarios in Ekiti and Plateau States during the Obasanjo government when emergency rule was declared in those states woefully fails to grasp the world of difference with the prevailing situations in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States today."
The governor, in the statement emphasised that "Boko Haram is an evil, ignorant, totally un-Islamic and condemnable ideology which must be fought as a threat to humanity and the whole of the country."
He lamented that: "For more than three years, our people in Yobe State and others in Borno and Adamawa States have suffered unspeakable horror and attacks from Boko Haram. And all people of goodwill here and around the world have condemned Boko Haram for the bloodthirsty terrorists that they are.
"It is only Clark who sees this great catastrophe, which requires an all-hands-on-deck approach to resolve, from the prism of politics and ethnicity. How unfortunate and unbecoming of a man who sees himself as an elder statesman!
If Clark is making these senseless and baseless statements to deflect attention from the corpus of serious issues which must be addressed by the Jonathan presidency as a matter of urgency to restore security and ensure the safety of the Nigerian people, he has failed and will continue to fail."
He argued that: "Today, from the biggest city to the remotest village in Nigeria, everyone knows and feels in a very real way the relentless onslaught of insecurity. Devastating Boko Haram attacks have wiped out lives and livelihoods in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States but insecurity is not restricted to these states alone. We have seen this very recently from Taraba to Benue and Kaduna to Nasarawa States."
He added that what was required is a strong will on the part of the federal government, along with prayers which are a contingent part of the search for solution, to address and resolve the Boko Haram problem in a decisive way and help restore peace and security.