By Friday Ewiwilem
More than ten years ago when he proclaimed to the world that he had turned eighty years of age, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, said that he was already in the departure lounge with his boarding pass to exit the world. He said that at eighty he had done everything there was to be done and that he was ready to bid farewell to the world. As Africans who cherish long life, many people prayed for Clark to live longer in good health, but that he should reduce his propensity to causing trouble. Those who know Chief Clark testify that he is a merchant of trouble who derives psychological and material dividends from trouble. It was this tendency to making trouble and receiving attention that pushed him into the hands of those who used him to write his recent open letter to the Governor of Delta State, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa. At over ninety years of age, Clark shouldn’t be in a position to write that kind of toxic letter laced with falsehoods and recriminations that even a man of sixty should not be associated with how much more a grand old man of over ninety.
For a very old man who claimed he was in the departure lounge more than ten years ago, Clark shouldn’t be commenting on politics. He should live in peace reminiscing and surrounded by his great-grandchildren. But as always he fishes in troubled waters and he allowed unscrupulous elements to take advantage of his pugilistic nature. Those who pushed Chief Clark into writing that vexatious letter wanted to use him to score cheap political point. Unluckily for them, they failed because Deltans and Nigerians know Chief Clark for what and who he really is. Clark is one of Nigeria’s problems. He came into public light nearly sixty years ago and had he demonstrated the kind of altruism and patriotism required of him Nigeria would not be where she is today. Those who know still remember whose corruptly acquired properties were seized by the Murtala/Obasanjo regime in 1975/1976. Nigerians also remember the Federal Commissioner for Information behind the sycophancy of Gowon Must Rule Forever which was one of the reasons for the July 1975 coup that ousted General Yakubu Gowon as Head of State.
The truth of the Warri crisis also points to the intransigency of a man with zero tolerance for his neighbours. The Niger Delta crisis that nearly swallowed Nigeria was also orchestrated for selfish reasons by the old man who lives in opulence at the expense of his fellow Niger Deltans. The colossal failure that the Presidency of Goodluck Jonathan was also the product of Clark who made Jonathan to alienate other ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta especially the Urhobo and the Itsekiri and thought that the Ijaws could have their way to rule Nigeria through militancy. The result was that the Niger Delta wasted a great opportunity spanning six years. All that Chief Clark always wanted was to be serviced with contracts and the spoils of office. Those who should know can tell us how the money for the Edwin Clark University in Kiagbodo was raised. Clark felt no qualms when State Governors were emptying their State accounts in donations to the University to make him happy as the father of the President then.
Well-meaning Deltans and Nigerians should disregard Clark’s vexatious letter as the work of disgruntled elements who saw an opportunity to use an old man that is known for stirring needless controversies. Every allegation or point made in that letter is false. The accusations of dictatorship, lack of accountability, and betrayal against Governor Okowa are blatantly untrue. Delta State under Governor Okowa embraced Local Government autonomy and augments the Councils’ finances with over 400 million naira monthly. Okowa’s non-interference with the House of Assembly makes it one of the most stable in the country. The State also practices judicial autonomy. The Government under Governor Okowa has always made its dealings public.
Chief Clark made so much ado about loans which are really not what he is claiming they are. Prejudice made him not to read or listen to what the Delta State Government has said over and over about the loans. He should read up more about the loans and he will bite off the ears of his informants. Clark’s position on DESOPADEC and 13% derivation is also very wrong. He has not taken into consideration the poor economic reality and the meager returns from crude oil that has affected not just DESOPADEC, but the national economy. DESOPADEC accounts are audited annually and he should do well to read a copy.
It is difficult to understand Chief Clark’s grouse with the new Universities. The establishment of the three Universities made Delta State Nigeria’s foremost education destination. This feat which will boost Human Capital Development within Delta State and beyond has earned Governor Okowa accolades. So why is Chief Clark angry?
Clark expressed anger at Okowa’s emergence as Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and called the act a betrayal. Clark ought to know the exigency that led to Okowa’s emergence. He said that Okowa betrayed Nyesom Wike and Emmanuel Udom. But is Clark not aware that Wike desperately wanted to be Vice-President too, but failed? Clark tried to play god when he said that God will not answer Okowa’s prayers of wanting to be Vice-President, but two days later Okowa received massive endorsement from former Presidents-Generals from the South-East. Many other Governors have also endorsed the Atiku/Okowa ticket.
Clark self-righteously accused other leaders of not speaking against Governor Okowa because they have been compromised. This is really far from the truth. The leaders are satisfied with Governor Okowa’s superlative performance. These leaders live in Delta State and they see and appreciate the works of Governor Okowa. On the other hand, Clark is in Abuja and listening to hearsay from mischief makers. One should think that at over ninety, Chief Clark should be living in Kiagbodo and see firsthand what is going on in Delta State and not remain in Abuja to abuse the privilege of old age.
***Friday Ewiwilem, writes from Asaba.