Senate Presidency: Edwin Clark backs Akpabio, says North can’t do it alone


By Tunde Opalana

Elder Statesman and Convener of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum PANDEF), Chief Edwin Clark, has thrown his weight as a respected voice in the Niger Delta region of South South Nigeria, behind the aspiration of Senator Godswill Akpabio to become the nation’s 10th Senate President.

He said any senator- elect desirous of the unity of Nigeria will vote for Senator Akpabio as the next President of the Senate during the inauguration of the 10th Senate tomorrow.

The Ijaw leader who hinged his please on the need for ethnic and religious balancing in the polity, made the call when Senators-elect and members of the Stability Group paid him a birthday visit in his home in Abuja on Saturday.

The visit also aimed at seek his blessings for the aspiration of Senator Akpabio as the President of the 10th Senate as part of consultations of critical stakeholders by the group.

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Chief Clark said “the North cannot do it alone. And we the South cannot do it alone. We should be equal partners. If all the positions are taken by Muslims, then we don’t have a country and the division continues.

“The President of Nigeria is a Muslim. The Vice President of Nigeria is a Muslim. The Chief Justice of Nigeria is a Muslim. The Chief of Staff to the President is a Muslim. The Speaker of the House of Representatives they are going to elect is a Muslim. So what kind of country are we going to have?

“It is time to heal our land and in so doing, what I expect of the 10th Senate to do is to give the position of the Senate President to a Christian Senator from the South South.

“Therefore the President of the Senate should be supported to emerge from the South South. A South South Senator, who is a Christian. So I am happy you are here and you have my blessings to become the next Senate President,” he told Senator Akpabio and his entourage.

In his response, Senator Akpabio assured the Ijaw leader that under his leadership in the Senate, a greater attention would be paid to the Niger Delta Region as the zone which lays the golden eggs for the nation.

“One of the problems we have in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is revenue generation. The law says the oil companies should pay three percent of their yearly budget to the Commission, unfortunately, there was no sanction. So the three percent is just there. If you don’t pay, what happens? Nothing.

“So as it is, we have to beg the oil companies before they can comply with the law. As at now, the oil companies are owing the NDDC $ 5.6bn in the last 20 years. The National Assembly can take steps to enforce the law because the goose that lays the golden eggs deserves some kind of rewards.

“If such a law comes into being then measures can be put in place to develop the region and stop people from dying every year through flooding like it happened in Bayelsa. It would also take care of the environment which has been ravaged through illegal oil bunkering, oil pollution and acid rain.

“We are almost in a war zone, where we are good for the purposes of extracting economic benefits and then abandoned thereafter. The East West road has not been completed because of inadequate funding. Addressing these issues starts from the Parliament.

“I am here today, not to only tell you about the zoning arrangement but to formally tell you that I am coming out once again, to make you, the south south region and the entire country proud and to also receive your blessings and prayers for the task ahead.”

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