From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Elder statesman and South-South leader Chief Edwin Clark has endorsed the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, for the forthcoming election.

He made the announcement at a media briefing in his residence in Abuja on Tuesday.

Clark who is also the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), said his endorsement of the former Anambra State governor followed a thorough examination of his plan for the country by the forum.

He noted that Obi’s pathway to sustainable development is commendable just as his desire to carry along people from the Niger Delta in his governance.

According to Clark, Nigeria must continue to be a nation where all citizens, regardless of tribe or religion, have equal opportunities.

He expressed confidence that the Peter Obi administration would do the most good for young people.

Clark, who is also the leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Leadership Forum (SMBLF), said giving the opportunity for a southeasterner to lead the country will give true meaning to the former head of state, General Yakubu Gowon’s mantra after the civil war of “no victor no vanquished.”

The text of his address read thus:

On my directive, the National Leadership of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), met with the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party, Former Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency Peter Obi in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Friday 23rd December 2023.

The PANDEF delegations comprised the National Chairman, Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, Secretary, Board of Trustees, Ambassador Godknows Boladei Igali, other members of the National Executive Committee and selected delegates drawn from the six states of the South-South.

I have since been fully briefed on the successful outcome of the interaction held on 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, and 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 clean up of the Niger Delta polluted communities is most welcomed, given that even the ongoing Ogoni clean-up has been rather slow.

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His commitment to the inclusion of qualified persons from the Niger Delta in the national governance process in the future government if elected into power is very reassuring.

And that HE Peter Obi’s unwavering commitment to the reactivation of our ports, development of the Blue Economy and Maritime Sector, and investment in the gas sector, developing of modular refineries, are worthy of note.

Arising from the above and taking into account the following factors, which I hold very dearly at my age of over 95 years, I restate as follows:

i. That Nigeria must remain a country where all citizens should be given free and unfettered opportunities for national service, even at the level of the highest office, being the Presidency of our land.

ii. That, there should be class citizens in this country, all Nigeria must be treated equitable and fairly.

iii. Nigeria must be a country where her citizen have the right to hold free, fair and credible elections deviods of ‘big money’ and any form of intimidation undue influence and compromises.

iv. The youths are the greatest beneficiary of Mr Peter Obi presidential election victory because no previous government has thought of their interest. Nigeria is one of the most uneducated country in the world, it is the world poverty capital. Mr Peter Obi election will definitely take care of the presidency of Nigeria by rotation, because Nigeria does not belong to one religion, region, etc.

v. That those who aspire to rule Nigeria must have good education, transparency and a well-articulated vision for moving the country forward.

vi. The decision of the leaders of Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum, which I also lead, that the Northern part of the country as represented by President Muhammadu Buhari, which would have completed full eight (8) years as President by 29th May 2023, should yield power to candidates from the South for purpose of unity, equity and fair play.

vii. That the South East geo-political zone, which has not produced any elected President of this country since after the First Republic, and particularly during this Fourth Republic should be given the opportunity to produce the next President of Nigeria given that the zone has the capacity to present highly competent and qualified persons, for the office.

viii. That, this will bring to practical expression the commitment of the General Yakubu Gowon led Federal Military Government of ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’, a dictum, at the end of the Nigeria Civil War in 1970. This was where General Yakubu Gowon directed my former boss and Military Governor of defunct Midwest State, Col. S.O. Ogbemudia to canvass for reconciliation, re-integration, rehabilitation and reconstruction of every section of the country, while I, as Commissioner for Education was saddled with the responsibility for playing a critical role in the implementation of this policies.

ix. And that, given his sound educational background, distinguished antecedent in professional life and track record as one of the most outstanding Governors this country has ever produced during his tenure in Anambra State and his vision for the country and the Niger Delta in particular, His Excellency Peter Obi is eminently qualified to lead this country as President.

Taking all these factors into consideration, and putting His Excellency Peter Obi side by side with all other candidates being presented by other political parties, I am convinced beyond doubt, that our country Nigeria has a great opportunity to elect a phenomenal team, the candidate of the Labour Party, and his Deputy, Senator Datti Baba-Ahmad, as President and Vice President respectively.

I formally hereby announce that I will, therefore, personally, vote for HE Peter Obi and his Vice Presidential candidate on election day, 25th Feb 2023, as President and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

I have also requested the leadership of PANDEF, as a democratic institution and all other socio-cultural and socio-political bodies which I head, to consult with their members at the levels of the States, Local Governments and Diaspora to take further steps in supporting my choice of HE Peter Obi.

I also call on all well Nigerians irrespective of ethnic, religious and even political backgrounds to vote for HE Peter Obi without hesitation, as he is our best hope of a new Nigeria of peace, stability and progress.