Leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has endorsed the presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, ahead of the February 25 presidential election.
Clark’s endorsement came few days after former President Olusegun Obasanjo recommended Obi in his New Year message to Nigerians.
THISDAY gathered yesterday that Obasanjo had concluded plans to convene a crucial meeting of LP stakeholders today in Abeokuta. The meeting called at the instance of the former president, it was learnt, would hold at his Hilltop home. It would review activities of the party and to take key decisions that would help them leverage on the goodwill of Nigerians for Obi.
Yesterday, also, Benue State Governor, Mr. Samuel Ortom, commended Obasanjo for his endorsement of Obi as the best among the presidential candidates. Ortom said if he was not a member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he would have personally led Obi’s campaign across the country.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, Clark said it was only fair and just that the southern part of Nigeria should produce the next president after eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Clark said on his directive, the national leadership of PANDEF met with Obi last December, where 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, among other things, were presented to the LP presidential candidate.
Clark noted that the vision statement shared by Obi at the occasion, as it related 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 the youth through innovative programmes was very commendable.
The elder statesman also expressed satisfaction about Obi’s restated commitment to restructuring and devolution of power, and the political will to promote harmony, peaceful coexistence among the states and constituent parts of the country.
He added that Obi’s vision for more equity and justice, as it pertains to the South-south, which in the past 60 years had produced much of the revenue for the national economy, but had been neglected with little impact in terms of infrastructure and social development, was convincing and commendable.
Clark said putting Obi side by side the other presidential candidates, he was convinced beyond doubt that Nigeria had a great opportunity to elect a phenomenal team in Obi and his running mate, Senator Datti Baba-Ahmad.
The elder statesman said, “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 years as President by 29th May, 2023, should yield power to candidates from the South for purpose of unity, equity and fair play.
“That the South-east geopolitical 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.”
He said that would bring to practical expression the commitment of the then General Yakubu Gowon-led federal military government of “No Victor, No Vanquished”, a dictum, at the end of the Nigeria Civil War in 1970.
The elder statement stated that given Obi’s sound educational background, distinguished antecedents in professional life and track record as one of the most outstanding governors this country had ever produced during his tenure in Anambra State and his vision for the country, he was eminently qualified to lead this country as president.
Clark added, “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.”
Clark stressed that he had requested the leadership of PANDEF, as a democratic institution, and all other socio-cultural organisations, which he headed, to consult with their members at the level of the states, local governments and diaspora to take further steps in supporting his choice of Obi.
He further called on Nigerians, irrespective of ethnic, religious and even political backgrounds, to vote Obi without hesitation, saying he remains, “the best hope of a new Nigeria.”
Obasanjo, Obi, Labour Party Leaders to Hold Crucial Meeting in Ogun
Obasanjo is set to convene a crucial meeting of stakeholders of Labour Party today in Abeokuta.
Those expected at the meeting included Obi; National Chairman of LP, Julius Abure; National Publicity Secretary, Abayomi Arabambi and his Ogun State-led faction; former LP campaign Director General, Doyin Okupe, and other key decision makers of the party.
There were also strong indications that Obasanjo had waded into the crisis rocking the party.
THISDAY learnt from reliable sources within the party that there had been series of meetings between Obasanjo and some leaders of the party on how to resolve the issues under contention without injuring the party and depleting it electoral fortunes.
THISDAY also gathered that Obasanjo became worried after reports by some party members about Obi’s indifference to the leadership crisis in the party, reached his ears, especially in Ogun State.
According to the source, “Peter has refused to interfere in the crisis in our party. He said he doesn’t want to be caught in the crossfire. He is more focused on winning his election.”
Obasanjo’s meeting with the leadership of the Labour Party is coming barely three weeks after the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party set up an 11-man committee to placate and reconcile disgruntled members of the party to form a united front ahead of the elections.”
The committee was mandated to ensure the peaceful resolutions of all the grievances and further strengthen and promote the unity of the party towards archiving the goals and tasks ahead of us come 2023.
Findings by THISDAY, however, showed that there were some aggrieved members of the party, who had refused to honour the plea of the party to come to the table for talks.
Chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee, which was set up by the National Working Committee (NWC), Mr Friday T. Ibidan, when contacted by THISDAY, said he would not speak on the issue.
He angrily responded, “I can’t grant a telephone interview. I am busy in the office. If you want to see me, come to the office. I can’t say anything. You can call the National chairman, he will tell you all he knows.”
Ortom Hails Obasanjo for Endorsing Peter Obi for President
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom commended Obasanjo for his endorsement of Obi as the best among the presidential candidates ahead of the presidential election. .
The governor stated that if he was not a member of PDP, he would have personally led Obi’s campaign across the country.
Ortom made the statement in a press release signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Terver Akase.
The governor strongly recommended Obi to Nigerians as the man with the capacity to effectively tackle the economic, security and other challenges facing the country.
Ortom said he was convinced that Obi possessed the qualities of a leader who would be a true president of the country by guaranteeing justice, equity and fairness for all Nigerians.
The governor stressed that for some years, the country had tottered 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 said the president that Nigeria needed at this challenging time in the country’s history was one who understood 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 emphasised that Obi had all such qualities.
Ortom lauded Obasanjo for once again demonstrating objectivity, truth and patriotism as a statesman whose views on national issues must be taken seriously.
Labour Party Insists No Single Nigerian Can Dictate Who Becomes President
Labour Party (LP) said no individual or a narrow exclusive circle could dictate to Nigerians who becomes their president.
National Vice Chairman, South-east, of LP, Innocent Okeke, said this while reacting to recent comments credited to Anambra business mogul, Arthur Eze.
Eze had distanced himself from the presidential ambition of Obi, insisting that the former governor cannot win votes in both the South-west and the northern region. He had during the Ofala festival of his Ukpo community, in Anambra State, said he had warned Obi to withdraw from the presidential race as stakeholders in the south-east would back the state governor, Charles Soludo, when the time was right.
Reacting to Eze’s comments via a statement yesterday, Okeke said Obi’s aspiration was an idea that was being directed by the divine phenomenon and propelled by people’s organic reactions and movement.
Okeke said, “It should be said to whoever cares to listen that it is no longer going to be the dictator’s world or a narrow exclusive circle or group dictating who becomes president in Nigeria.”
He advised Eze, Soludo and whoever wanted to play God against “the divine mandate” to have a rethink, saying the next new Nigeria is not going to be business as usual.
“The moment people begin to adapt, the better,” he said. “It has been a country between the far rich and extremely poor masses. They destroyed the middle class and made the poor masses ordinary slaves.”
Okeke also said, “We can understand Eze’s personal business interests and effort to remain big, but he has been big from youth till this age, it’s time to feel the pain of others and sacrifice luxury for a better future.”
He maintained that all the presidential polls in recent times across the country had put Obi well above other contenders, saying this is a reflection of the people’s choice and their hopes of a better Nigeria, moving forward.