Elder statesman and Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark has endorsed the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi for next month’s presidential election.
He said with Obi as president, Nigeria would be united with his move to restructure the country.
The announcement came three days after former President Olusegun Obasanjo also endorsed the former Anambra state governor.
For Clark, anyone that wants to be the next Nigeria’s president must be educated and experienced, adding that the Southeast should be allowed to produce the next successor to President Muhammadu Buhari because the zone has resourced and educated people to govern the country.
Speaking Tuesday at his Asokoro residence in Abuja, he said: “I have since been fully briefed on the successful outcome of the interaction held at that occasion. Amongst other things, I have taken note of the following observations which came out of the meeting: That PANDEF presented the expectations and demands of the peoples of the Niger Delta, comprising infrastructural development, devolution of power, resource control, effective and inclusive participation in the oil and gas sector, amongst other things, to the Presidential Candidate.
“That the vision statement shared by His Excellency Peter Obi at the occasion, as it relates to making Nigeria more productive, using the rich resource endowment in every part of the country; curbing waste and fighting corruption; and creating jobs for our teeming youths through innovative initiatives, is very commendable.
“That his restated commitment to restructuring and devolution of power, will promote harmony, peaceful coexistence amongst the states and constituent parts of the country.
“That his vision for more equity and justice as it pertains to the South-South region, which in the past sixty years has produced much of the revenue for the national economy, but has been neglected with little impact in terms of infrastructure and social development, is convincing and commendable.
“Peter Obi’s commitment to environmental justice to the cleanup of the Niger Delta polluted communities is most welcome, given that even the ongoing Ogoni clean-up has been rather slow.
“His commitment to inclusion of qualified persons from the Niger Delta in the national governance process in the future government if elected into power is very reassuring,” Clark said.
Ortom backs Obasanjo on Obi
Similarly, Benue state Governor Samuel Ortom backed former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of Obi for the February 25 poll.
In a statement issued Tuesday by his Special Adviser Media and Publicity in Makurdi, Terver Akase, the governor also recommended Obi to Nigerians “as the man who has the capacity to effectively tackle the economic, security and other challenges facing the country.”
“The Governor is convinced that Obi possesses the qualities of a leader who will be a true President of this country by guaranteeing justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians.
“The Governor stresses that for some years, the country has been tottering on the verge of collapse, owing to leadership failure and its attendant consequences of poverty, heightened insecurity with banditry, kidnappings and other acts of terrorism threatening the very foundations of the nation.
“He says the President that Nigeria needs at this challenging time in the country’s history is one who understands the urgent need to unite the people and speedily initiate policies and actions to redirect the ship of the nation on the path of growth and development, and emphasizes that Peter Obi has all such qualities.
“Governor Ortom lauds Chief Obasanjo for once again demonstrating objectivity, truth and patriotism as a statesman whose views on national issues must be taken seriously,” the statement said.
Keyamo on 2019
But an All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign spokesman and minister of labour and productivity, Festus Keyamo (SAN), dismissed Obi’s endorsement by the South-South leader.
According to him, the endorsement by the man he called “my respected father” is a nullity.
Keyamo, an Urhobo from Delta state said on his Twitter handle Tuesday: “Same thing I said for OBJ that applies to my respected father, Edwin Clark. These are elders who endorsed Atiku Abubakar in 2019. The votes they gave Atiku in 2019, they have carried those votes to Obi. My father, Edwin Clark HAS NEVER SUPPORTED APC for the Presidency since 2015.”
I’m not bothered – Atiku
But the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, said he was not bothered by Clark’s endorsement of Obi.
The former vice president said what was of utmost importance to him was the overwhelming support of the Nigerians who he said have the ultimate power to decide the next president of the country.
Speaking Tuesday to journalists through the spokesman Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Council, Charles Aniagwu, the ex-VP said the fact that Clark hails from the same Delta state as the PDP’s vice-presidential candidate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, does not stop him (Clark) from having his personal opinion.
Expressing confidence in PDP victory next month, he said: “In this election, we (Nigeria) are going to have as much as over 90 million Nigerians qualified to vote. At the end of the day, even if we don’t have 50% turn out; it means that as much as 47.5 million Nigerians will be voting.
“For us in the PDP, as much as we desire some of these endorsements, we look forward to Nigerians who ultimately have the power to give us their endorsements, and that is what is going to happen on the day of voting.
“If you watch our rallies, you will see that silently we are receiving a whole lot of endearment from Nigerians.
“Secondly, there are a lot of other notable elder statesmen in this country that will not engage in public endorsement of candidates. The question, is don’t they have their choices?
“So, if one or two goes ahead to express their choice openly, that does not in any way vitiate the potency of those other persons who are going to remain silent on their own endorsement or who we discussed with and we know that they are with us.
“So it is anybody’s democratic right to pitch their tent with whoever they like. We are not disturbed; we are reaching out to Nigerians because we do know that their endorsement carries more weight than any other endorsement.”
On similar endorsement of Obi by Governor Ortom, he said: “If he says he prefers one candidate, it is within his democratic right. We have millions of Nigerians in support of Atiku-Okowa ticket, those ones are also very important.
“You know one beautiful thing about voting in an election is, if you are going to buy a product, maybe clothes, you can say quality clothes, quality shoes. But in voting, we don’t have quality voting.
“We do desire that some of these high-profile persons possibly come to our side but we are comfortable that there are a lot of high profile Nigerians who don’t want a public show of their support.
“We are quite comfortable with where we are, and we respect their democratic right.”