Edwin Clark Reads The Riot Act To INEC, APC, What We Will Do If 2019 Elections Are Rigged!
Former Minister of Information and Culture and Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark has given stern warning to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) that Nigerians would not tolerate manaipulation of any sorts during the forthcoming elections.
The warning came amidst growing apprehension that the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and the ruling party were working hand in glove with INEC and security agencies to rig the elections in favour of the ruling party. Clark, who gave the warning while receiving a delegation of the Christian Campaigners of Nigeria (CCN) at his Asokoro residence, Abuja, also warned that any attempt by anybody or group of persons to rig the election could provoke the anger of the citizenry. According to him, going by the mood of the nation, it had become clear that Nigerians were poised to vote out the current administration and any attempt to frustrate the will of the people could spell doom for Nigeria. “If we cannot speak now, then we should keep quiet for ever. This country needs a new President. Come out and cast your vote.
Anybody who rigs the next election is rigging Nigeria out of existence. We want free, fair and credible elections. “This country belongs to all of us. Nigerians must be allowed to choose their leaders under a free atmosphere. We must resist any attempt to rig the 2019 elections,” he said. Nigeria, Clark said, was at a crossroads as the national economy had suffered the most negative downturn in recent years; millions of citizens have lost their jobs and joined the unemployment market and prices of even basic foodstuff are now out of the reach of the average citizen. He said the forthcoming election would most likely determine the fate of Nigeria not only in the next four years, but actually, the future of generations yet unborn.
He charged the delegation to mobilise their congregation and those in their neighbourhood to go to the polls next year with a strong determination to change the situation of things in the country. “It is also for this reason that I will advise that as clergy men, you do not stand aloof. All hands must be on deck. I agree 100% with the Most Rev. Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto that all Christians must be involved in politics and not to leave it for those who see themselves as professional politicians.
“You have to encourage your members/followers to be active in politics, to come out and vote in the forthcoming elections and in doing this, they must vote their conscience. Do not allow people to intimidate you, to coerce you, or give you money which they stole from our common purse,” he said.
Clark observed that the current administration had so polarised the country along ethnic and religious lines that restructuring of Nigeria has become so imperative if the country must survive. Restructuring, he said, would play a critical role in who becomes the next President of Nigeria.
“If you are from certain parts of the country, it is most likely you will not get some jobs, despite provisions on Federal Character in our Constitution. For instance, it is still fresh in our minds, what happened just a few days ago on the floor of the Senate when names of Nigerians were sent to the Senate for clearance as members of the Board of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and some zones – South-South and the South- East – were conspicuously left out from being nominated to serve in the Board. “This will not be the first time though.
It also happened in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which is the engine room of the oil industry, when its Board was constituted. Out of a Board of nine members, which includes the Chairman, six are from the North, a non-oil producing area; and these six include the present Chief of Staff, whose schedule of duty is already very tight. One is from the South- West, an oil producing zone, only one is from the South- South which produces 90% of the oil and none from the South-East, an oil producing zone.
If things are done equitably, the headquarters of the NNPC ought to be in the South-South, which is the zone that produces the highest percentage of oil, the commodity that sustains the country. Apart from the exploration that takes place in the South-South with its attendant consequences of environmental degradation, every other activity takes place outside the zone of exploration, beginning from recruitment of staff to award of contracts, etc.
“I am also very worried at the increasing trend of desecrating our national institutions, particularly the Nigeria Army and the Nigeria Police Force in using them for political gains. More and more, certain persons in political class have continued to drag the Police to become surrogates in achieving their nefarious political ends.
“This is the reason why I support the restructuring of this country, and will support any Presidential candidate that has the restructuring of this country genuinely at heart and sees it as one of the cardinal things he will do, if elected into office. This is because restructuring will check this inequality, this injustice.
Restructuring will make or force states to be viable, because they will begin to think outside the box, if they must survive,”