Citizens of the six states that make up the Niger Delta region yesterday disowned one of their own, Chiief Edwin Clark over what they call his very uninformed utterances about Borno State Government and it’s people especially his call for removal of democratic structures in emergency controlled States of Borno,Yobe and Adamawa.
Over sixty members of Niger Delta Peoples Forum in Borno, dressed in traditional attires with majority of the men amongst them wearing hats, paid a solidarity visit to Governor Kashim Shettima at the Government House in Maiduguri on Friday to express their support for him and their disgust for their kinsmen whom they believe do not know the realities on ground.
Secretary General of the Forum, Prince Stephen U.A Ebri who read a prepared text said they represent hundreds of their kinsmen who have see, hear and know the real happenings in the State and feel ashamed when their ignorant elders speak from a far and end of misleading Nigerians.
“there is one issue that is seriously troubling the minds of every one of us here and that is how some of our elders from the Niger Delta that are completely ignorant of the true situation in Borno State are attacking this Government that is doing everything within its powers to address the problem. Sir, we were in Maiduguri when you were sworn in on May 29th, 2011. Sir, in case our elders in the Niger Delta do not know, there are Niger Delta people living in Borno, we are from the Niger Delta but our difference is that we are well informed about the true situation and they are ignorant, they don’t know, they don’t want to know and we don’t think they will ever know. We are not fools or sycophants, we are responsible people that will call a spade a spade. When you were sworn-in Maiduguri was in disarray, people were killed daily, bombs were every where, all of us were living iin perpetual fear, young boys were threatening everyone with guns, calling phone numbers to threaten people but today, Your Excellency, you have been able to lead the people of Maiduguri to rise against threats and defend themselves, today, Maiduguri is an opposite of what it was when you came in. Rather than the fear and citizens imprisonment you met in May 29th 2011, today there is peace, security and freedom in Maiduguri. It was you that led us to the peace through the intervention of God almighty. We are worried so much by some of the utterances of our Niger Delta brothers like Asari Dokubo and elder like Chief Edwin Clark. Only yesterday, we read an advert by Chief Edwin Clark sponsored on the Newspapers calling for the removal of Governors, saying all manner of things that are out of absolute and annoying ignorance. Chief Clark said the Borno State Government is not cooperating with the Federal Government. How can a Government that is using resources to finance security agencies be accused of being uncooperative when we all know that it is the Federal Government that is supposed to fund the security? We are angry and tired with these utterances that are making us very uncomfortable in a State that the people have been treating us with love and respect. This is a State Government that went as far as giving a political appointment to a son of the Niger Delta from Delta State and that son works directly with Governor under the Governor’s office. This is a Government that appointed an Igbo man as a cabinet member and that Igbo man is in charge of community relations, that Igbo man has been with Your Excellency for many years. Sir, anytime people from Niger Delta speak on Borno out of ignorance we feel very ashamed because all that they say are not the truth of the ground realities in Borno State and some people assume that we from the Niger Delta share the hate views of some of these people. We have had enough of them. They are trying to mislead Nigerians and they are making us unhappy in a place we have been happy for many years. In the light of the foregoing, we the the great people of the Niger Delta in Borno State hereby disassociate ourselves from all utterances made against the government and people of Borno State. We are however committed to any meaningful goal of the Niger Delta people which do not compromise the unity,peace and progress of the entity called Nigeria. The people of Niger Delta are reasonable, we are tolerant, we fight but we fight good courses and not the feather the embers of hate. Anybody calling for the military is talking out of ignorance of the laws of this country. If anyone has a military man he wants to make Governor of Borno State, he shouldn’t come through the backdoor, he should sponsor that person to retire and contest elections for the Governorship of Borno in 2015 and we will be very happy to send that person letters of commiseration after we successfully and proudly re-elect Governor Kashim Shettima in 2015 to continue his great works of sustaining the peace in Maiduguri and working to attract peace in the entire Borno State” the forum said.
The group noted that is shares the grief of schoolgirls abducted in Chibok and stands by their parents while it shares the pains of the Borno Government for the human and material losses and huge spending to support victims and reconstruct destroyed private and public property.
Responding, Governor Shettima said he is first a Nigerian before being a Borno man and hence his decision in 2012, to appoint a Niger Deltan from Delta State as his Special Assistant working directly with him and also his appointment of an Ibo man as Special Adviser as well as his spokesman from Zamfara State and another assistant from Gombe. He described Clark as someone that acts against his age.
“We are one people, the majority amongst us in terms of numerical strength, whether in tribe or religion must give sense of belonging to the minority. It is people like Elder Edwin Clark that do not really understand who we are and who we should be in this country. Power doesn’t last forever. Every opportunity you have is one that you must miss someday, however long. He is 87, he should be a father to all, and he should champion the course of nation building and not sectional interest, if for nothing else, at least for his age. From the moral point of view, God gives some consideration to the youngest and the eldest. Let us continue to urge him in a polite manner, to see Nigeria beyond his walking stick. The hat that he puts on should provide shield not only to his grey hairs but to the young hairs of other Nigerians regardless of where they come from. Age should always go with wisdom of tolerance, wisdom of truth and defense of it, wisdom of togetherness and national unity” Shettima said.
He told the Niger Deltans that he regards them as Borno people contrary to what they named their group. “I will prefer to call you Forum of Borno People from the Niger Delta. Some of you were born here in Borno State; some of you probably had parents or grandparents born in Borno. Most of you have something doing in whatever respect whether as business men, traders or whatever it is you are doing and by that, you are contributing to the economy of Borno State. The allocations given to Borno from the Federation Account is given based on our population amongst other indices being considered and all of you here, regardless of where you consider your roots, make up the population of Borno State and this means, you are stakeholders in what we get from the Federation Account, you are fully entitled to all public services and privileges what we provide as a Government. When Boko Haram members in their evil ways, planted explosives around the post office in January, this year, the explosives did not choose victims based on their backgrounds and what part of the country they came from, the explosives simply targeted residents of Maiduguri who happened to be on the spot. This is the same of other wicked attacks in any part of Borno State. So, to me and indeed to every reasonable person here, you are part and parcel of Borno State, you are sons and daughters of this State with roots from the Niger Delta. My ancestral background is Nganzai local government area in Northern Borno but I have adopted Maiduguri Metropolitan Council as my official place of origin. We are all one people in this country. Believe me I have never regarded Honourable Christopher Godwin Akaba as different from anyone that works with me on the basis on ethno-religious background and this why immediately he was appointed as Special Assistant, I brought him directly under my office; I have seen his potentials, his sincerity, zeal and commitment to progressive governance and this is what matters to me as a Governor”.
Shettima said one of the best ways any society can grow fast is to open its doors to accommodate any person that lawfully lives within it regardless of his background. He sighted that the United States and the Dubai Kingdom in U.A.E have become great mainly because they accommodate any good citizen across the world who desires to live and work there without being unlawful. The Governor called on the visitors to aspire for anything in Borno and be free to enjoy rights and request for privileges as others would do.