Former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark said Wednesday that President Goodluck Jonathan was reluctant to accept to be the vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, when he was offered the position in 2007.
He said when the idea of becoming the running mate to late President Umaru Yar’Adua was mooted to Mr. Jonathan, then Bayelsa State Governor, his first reaction was that he would not take the position.
Clark, a PDP stalwart, who like Mr. Jonathan is Ijaw, spoke at an investiture ceremony where he was made grand patron of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Chapter of South-South Community leader, chiefs and elders.
Recalling the events that led to the vice presidential slot being zoned to the South-South geo-political zone, the Ijaw leader said in 2004, leaders of the zone made a declaration that former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s successor must come from the region.
He alleged that Obasanjo, who he claimed imposed Yar’Adua on Nigeria in 2007 as president, was opposed to a president from the oil-rich zone.
The octogenarian warned those opposed to the re-election of Mr. Jonathan to desist from doing so because they would be seen to be opposed to God, who made him (Jonathan) president in the first place.
He also warned those threatening the continued corporate existence of the country because of the president’s perceived second term ambition to desist from doing so because of the divine circumstances that led to Jonathan’s emergence as Nigeria’s leader.
He stressed that Nigeria’s constitution permitted the president to seek re-election and that as a law practitioner for 50 years, he was always amused when learned people said he (Jonathan) had been sworn-in twice and therefore could not run again.
According to Clark, “Any person fighting Jonathan is fighting God. Whatever God said you will be that is what you will be and whoever wants to remove him (Jonathan) God will fight him.
“Under the grace of God, Jonathan became the acting President and later President. What is yours nobody can take it from you!” he said adding that, “some people said that they must rule and if Jonathan runs there will be bloodshed. Majority of the northerners believe in Jonathan and want him to continue. Whoever wants to split this country will fail”.
Reflecting on the political leadership of the Yoruba, the elder statesman said a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was only pretending to be the leader of the race.
According to Clark, since the demise of the former Premier of Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and a former Ondo State Governor, Pa Adekunle Ajasin, the Yoruba race had not had a leader.
Speaking earlier on behalf of the South-South leaders, chiefs and elders, Bello Premier said the South-south community in Abuja was confronted by challenges of disunity, individualistic tendencies, discrimination, neglect and blatant disregard by authorities of the FCT and local government administration.
Mr. Premier explained that the leaders constituted an interim executive and Board of Trustees in order to forge a common front. He said they would hold elections into the various offices in April.
He added that they had taken up the task of re-organising themselves into a formidable body to confront the enormous challenges ahead of the general elections and to ensure that the South-South retained the presidency come 2015.