Chief Edwin Clark, the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has advocated the need by all to build a united Nigeria where all citizens are equal.
Clark who spoke during a press conference in Abuja said ‘’We must build up a united Nigeria where all citizens are equal, and have equal opportunity to aspire to any position in their God-given land without being subjugated or reduced to become subjects without any rights in their own country.
Issuing the statement against the background of rising insecurity, he said ‘’We have watched with restrained patience, the reckless and irresponsible utterances of the so-called Fulani Jihadists and the Miyetti Allah, who believe that they own Nigeria from the North to the sea, and therefore, have the impunity to warn the State Governments, particularly the Delta State Government and Governor to withdraw, within 72 hours, his decision against open grazing, recently taken by the 17 Governors of the South, in a meeting held in Asaba.’’
According to him, ‘’We have decided to issue this advice and warning to the Federal Government and the Fulani Jihadists that the people of the Niger Delta will resist in such a way that will make it definitely impossible for the Federal Government security forces to cope with, should this action escalate.
”We are reacting because this is not the first time Fulanis and their collaborators have insulted our people. It will be remembered that sometime in 2009, a Legislature from Kebbi State in the National Assembly asked the Federal Government to resettle the people of the Niger Delta in another territory to create a conducive and unhindered atmosphere for the oil companies to operate.’’
Clark who is also the chairman of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), warned ‘’That we warn, the resulting consequences will be very unpleasant to them. The Federal Government has continuously condoned them and behaving as if the Federal Government is the one giving support to these Fulani Jihadists and the Miyetti Allah because what is happening today in Nigeria, which has resulted in unprecedented insecurity and bad governance in Nigeria, will be worse, if they are not called to order by the Federal Government within the shortest time possible.
”In 2014, during the National Conference, some Northerners made very offending and provocative statements that the entire country belongs to them. This statement was made by a highly educated person, Dr. Usman Bugaji. This made the Delegates of the Niger Delta to issue a statement of about 17 pages, that they will break away or that they will seek for self determination if the arrogance and meanness of these Fulanis continue,’’ he recalled.
He stated ‘’As the Leader of the South-South Delegates to the Conference and in the interest of peace and continuance of the Conference, I immediately rose up to the occasion. I publicly disowned the document on the floor of the Conference. I remember His Royal Majesty, the Lamido of Adamawa, commended me for that statement when he was introduced to me by a former Minister of Defence in Jonathan’s government, Dr. Bello Alero. The Lamido Adamawa, told me that I had saved the country.
”For some Fulani Jihadists to issue such insulting and provocative 72 hours’ notice to the Governor of Delta State, without the Federal Government and the elders of northern extraction, ever calling them to order, is most disappointing, considering that the same Northern elders were quick to accuse Igbo leaders of not publicly condemning IPOB. Such impudence of the Fulani Jihadists will no longer be tolerated. They even claimed responsibility for the burning/bombing of the Secretariat in Asaba which also houses the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) Office,’’ he pointed out.
The Federal Minister of Information explained ”The decision on open grazing and other decisions taken on national interest by the 17 Southern Governors received the full support of the people of Southern Nigeria, particularly the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo of the South East, PANDEF of the South South and the Afenifere of the South West.
”We will no longer tolerate hate and divisive statements targeted at deriding and insulting others, from these Fulanis who believe Nigeria is exclusively theirs and other Nigerians are their subjects, and not their fellow citizens.
”In order to maintain and promote a peaceful Nigeria, I was among other 50 prominent Nigerians including former Heads of State, Traditional Rulers, former Chief Justices, that met for 9 hours, under the leadership of former President Olusegun Obasanjo recently on Thursday, 11th June, 2021, at the Conference Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, where valuable decisions were taken to maintain and sustain the unity of this country.
”I repeat, on behalf of Southerners, that open grazing has been finally buried in Southern Nigeria. For Mr. President to insist that open grazing should continue whereby he asked the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to dig out the Gazette that approved open grazing in the First Republic is unbelievable, unpatriotic and unacceptable to our people.
”Mr. President should regard himself as President of one Nigeria, and not as President of the Fulanis or the Northerners. We shall resist, at all cost, any attempt to subjugate us as citizens of one Nigeria.
”I also use this opportunity to seriously advise the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, over his irresponsible and unprofessional language, which is misleading and misdirecting Mr. President. Because the rhetoric question Mr. President asked during his interview with Arise Television, whether Nigerians want him (Mr. President) to contradict the Attorney General of the Federation was based on his understanding of the AG’s advice to him.’’
Clark rebuffed ”The AG’s position is provided for in the Constitution, and he is expected to be independent of parochial and unconstitutional Government decisions. He behaves as if his position is that of a Minister of Justice alone.
”This was the reason why at the 2014 National Conference it was recommended that the post of the Attorney General recognised by the Constitution should be separated from that of the Minister of Justice who owes his allegiance to the Government in power that appointed him.
”Perhaps Mr. President is not aware, or he has not been advised by the AG that the Land Use Act which vested ownership of land on the State Governor is entrenched in the Constitution of the country. Therefore, any Gazette or Law passed by any State or National Assembly is and will be null and void because the 1999 Constitution supersedes all such laws or gazette notices.
”The President has no power or authority to impose open grazing on State Governments. Such illegal action which are a breach of the 1999 Constitution, will not be accepted and will be legally resisted at all costs.
”Therefore, any law banning open grazing by State Governments is not only legal and binding, but is unchallengeable and binding on any person or group of persons, including the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. There is no federal system where the federating units are not controlled by the Governors, who is the chief security officer of his federating.
”What we are practicing today, is not a federation. Rather, what we are practicing is a unitary form of government which makes our President the most powerful President of any Federal system. And that is why the people want a new Constitution.
”Finally, may I, once again, appeal to Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari to call for a National Dialogue over insecurity and general violence, with Nigerians of various ethnic nationalities. The various calls by groups for secession and breakup of the country is not healthy. He needs to have a peaceful government until he leaves office in 2023.
”We must, therefore, I repeat, restructure and return to a Federal system of Government as it was in 1963, before the military took over.
”Enough is Enough!’’ the PANDEF Chief added.