15th May, 2021
Chief Edwin Clark, elder statesman and leader of Niger Delta on Saturday told those agitating for breakup of the country that they are on the wrong path as Nigeria will remain as one country now and in the future.
Clark spoke in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria as agitations for the breakup of the Nigeria, especially continue in some parts of the country.
Significantly, agitators for creation of Yoruba Nation out of Nigeria had on Saturday grounded socio-economic activities in Osogbo, Osun State on Saturday as they staged massive protest to back up their demand.
The agitators, mostly made up of youths under the aegis of Omo Oduduwa United led by Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Sunday Igboho, had converged in Osogbo on Saturday, marching through the streets in agitation for a Yoruba Nation.
Also, recent killings of security operatives, security facilities and buildings of government’s agencies in the Southeast and South- south are believed to be linked agitations for the creation of Biafra Republic out of Nigeria as being championed by Nnamdi Kanu led Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, IPOB.
Clark however told NAN in Abuja that he did not believe in Nigeria’s breakup in spite of rising insecurity and economic challenges in the country.
According to him, rather than fan the embers of war by making cessation calls, workable strategies should be evolved to solve the problem of insecurity and other challenges making life unbearable for Nigerians.
Clark said, “Nigeria will remain one. Some of us do not believe in the call for secession. Where do we go to, who are we leaving the country for, who owns it.
“We cannot flee, where do we go. Though I am seeing this danger but I do not believe that Nigeria will split.
“Recently 17 Southern governors met and they also agreed that Nigeria will remain one. They are not just PDP but also APC governors.
“Even during the civil war in 1967, we never believed Nigeria would break up and the war eventually ended in 1970.
“That was the nearest we got to breaking up but Nigeria did not break up,” he said.
Clark advocated for restructuring rather than break up of the country.
He referred to reports of the 2014 National Conference and the committee headed by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, saying the recommendations would go a long way.
He said, “all we are saying is that we should restructure the country. Let us devolve power to the states. They should be the federating units.
“We should refer to the 2014 National Conference report of over 600 recommendations. We do not need to convoke another confab.
“The confab report in addition to what APC produced under Gov. Nasir El-rufai’s committee are enough to create a true federal system of government in Nigeria.”
Clark stressed that unless Nigeria returned to a federal system of government, as obtained in 1963, the restructuring process would not be complete.
“Let us have a federal system of government as we had in 1963. Once that is done, there will be peace in Nigeria. With that, every region will have a State Police.
“So, the only cure to the problem of insecurity in Nigeria is to return to the 1963 Constitution with a few amendments.”
Clark further said, “I have been in politics for about 70 years in this country and I have seen it all.
“In 1960, there was the Independent Constitution, drawn up in Britain by the Whites and Nigerians.
“They agreed that this country has more than 250 ethnic nationalities, therefore a unitary form of government will not work and that there should be a federation which we had.
“The 1960 constitution made it that every region had its own constitution and develop at their own pace and keep half of what is developed in their area.
“That was why Obafemi Awolowo was able to develop the West because we had the cocoa boom at the time. The price of cocoa was very high in the international market.
“So he was able to introduce free primary education which other regions could not do at the time.”
He blamed the military for the present economic and security challenges faced by Nigerians, saying the military changed into a unitary form of government.
“Aguiyi Ironsi changed this country into a unitary government.
“It continued until the Army handed over in 1999 and they left behind a unitary form of constitution.
“That is why we are facing so much problem as a nation and that is why we are calling for restructuring,” Clark said.
On attacks on schools, Clark called for provision of security in and around schools through the building of fences and adequate surveillance.
He said that it might not be possible to guard all schools with the few number of security men in the country.
He advised that vigilantes could be employed to provide the Police with necessary information in the case of attempted attacks.
He, however, kicked against mounting surveillance cameras in schools, saying, “it will not work unless the people are ready to prevent kidnapping and other forms of attacks in schools.
“Even if we mount CCTVs they will be compromised as has happened on different occasions in some parts of the country.