*Its child of 2014 National Confab
Former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has said the idea of the North East Commission was never that of President Muhammadu Buhari but that of the National Conference of 2014.
Reacting to the comment attributed to Buhari that the North East commission was his compensation to the region’s massive electoral support in the just concluded Feburary 2019 presidential election, Clark said, the claim shows he has no regard for originators of the idea.
He said Buhari should show appreciation for the usefulness of the enormous work done by the 492 delegates drawn from all the segments and strata of the country.
He said it was wrong for the President to tie development programme to political patronage, warning that if development is tied to political patronage then the country is doomed.
Addressing newsmen at his Asokoro residence in Abuja, Clark said: “I watched the telecast of the inauguration of members the of the North East Development Commission by President Muhammadu Buhari. It was a very laudable event, because the development of the region has been of great concern to some of us.
“I recall that this issue of developing the North East Region was extensively deliberated upon during the 2014 National Conference and it was agreed and resolved that a development Commission should be set up.
“In inaugurating the members of the North East Development Commission, Presitent Muhammadu Buhari adduced two reasons. The first is that “The establishment of the Commission was in fulfillment of the pledge of his administration to fast track development in the region.
“I emphatically wish to state that the decision for establishing the NEDC was not the original idea of President Buhari, it did not originate as an Executive Memo from him to the National Assembly.
The historic National Conference of 2014 which Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari had no regard for was indeed the originator of the idea for setting up of the NEDC. The credit should go to the 2014 National Conference, for its patriotic thoughtfulness, and to the National Assemblys for initiating the bill for the establishment of the Commission.
“I also recall that when the Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt Hon. Yakubu Dogara and Sen. Alli Ndume presented the Bill for the setting up of the Commission, I wrote a paper to him titled “The Unity and greatness of Nigeria depend on the conquering of Boko Haram, and love and true of all Nigerians irrespective of religion and ethnicity.”
Clark said, “The Committee could not take a decision on all 3 items, it was decided that the matter be referred to the Federal Government.
“The second reason which Mr. President gave for the setting up of the Commission is that it is ‘in appreciation for the massive electoral support the zone gave him in 2015 and 2019 General elections.’
“This reason to my mind, is outrageous and reminds one of a similar statement Mr. President made on 2nd July, 2015 at the United States Institute of Peace when Dr. Pauline Baker, the President Emeritus of the Fund for Peace, United States in posing a question to him said “My question relates to another area of Nigeria that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention during this trip and that is the Niger Delta. It’s a challenge that you are going to face. I wonder if you would tell us how you intend to approach it with particular reference to the amnesty, bunkering, and inclusive development?”
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s response to her was ‘I hope you have a copy of the election results. The constituents, for example, gave me 97% (of vote) cannot in all honesty be treated on same issues with constituencies that gave me 5%. I think these are political reality.’
“These statements credited to Mr. President (in 2015 and presently in 2019) is politics taken to the mundane and absurdity, and very unpatriotic.
“Chapter VI, Section 130 of the 1999 Constitution states that: (1) There shall be for the Federation a President
(“2) The President shall be the Head of State, the Chief Executive of the Federation and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation
“Section 132 (4) of the 1999 Constitution states that: “For the purpose of an election to the office of President, the whole of the Federation shall be regarded as one constituency. Therefore for Mr. President to base development of the country on political patronage, is most unfair and unacceptable.
“If the President pronounce that the signing and inauguration of the North East Development Commission is a reward for the massive votes he got in the North East, let it therefore be likely concluded that negligence of his Government to the development of Niger Delta region is as a result of the people of the region choosing to vote in accordance with their conscience.
“For instance, the non-commencement of the Ogoni clean-up and other equally damaged Oil and Gas producing areas, the non- completion of the East West Road, and other long deprived economic activities of the region is a punishment a punishment for the people of the Niger-Delta for choosing to vote according to their conscience.
“This also can be attributed to Mr. President’s refusal to dialogue or execute the South-South Leaders 16 point programme.
“We strongly therefore advise Mr. President not to abandon the goose that lays the golden egg, because, it is a case Mr. President telling Nigerians that if the people of the North East had not voted for him massively he would not have signed the Bill for setting up of the NEDC and inaugurated the Commission.
“Mr. President cannot claim to be unaware of the level of devastation, killings and poverty that has become the lot of the North East Region, which is indeed a problem hence it was discussed at the 2014 National Conference.
“Needless to mention the trauma of innocent children kidnapped at Chibok and other places, not forgetting to mention Leah Sharibu who turned 16 years only yesterday (Tuesday), 14th May, 2019, and is marking a second Birthday in captivity, and countless others still painfully held hostage in Boko Haram captivity, assuredly under traumatizing condition.
“Today, security is a major issue in the North East. The case of killings in Zamfara, Yobe, Adamawa and countless other States in the country is an issue that has become dominant source of worry to all Nigerians.
“If President Muhammadu Buhari had not wanted the Report of the 2014 National Conference ‘… .to go into the so-called archives,’ as stated by him during his first year anniversary as President and Commander-in-Chief, but read and implemented it, he would have appreciated the usefulness of the enormous work done by the 492 delegates drawn from all the segments and strata of our great country, Nigeria.
“Today, nobody talks about the increase in the 13% Derivation and 5% allocation for mineral resources development in states. It is not enough to talk about diversification of our economy, as if it is only agriculture that is a viable sector in the country
“Presently, Nigeria operates a multi-party system. This system is recognized by the laws of the land, and it means that people can vote in accordance with their conscience.
“But the law states that once someone is declared the winner, for instance for the office of Presidency, he becomes the President of all, those who voted for him, those who did not vote for him and even those who did not vote at all.
“Therefore, President Muhammadu Buhari should be reminded that he is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and as such, President of the entire Country, including political opponents and supporters, all religions, atheists, etc. And as such, he should not discriminate against perceived or imagined opponents in the dispensation of social amenities and lawful patronages, including development projects, appointments, privileges, social welfare and otherwise.
“The entire Country is his Constituency as stated in Section 132 (4) of the 1999 Constitution.”