Director-General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has lambasted Ijaw National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, following the ultimatum given to the Federal Government to constitute negotiation team on Niger Delta’s demands.
Reacting to the ultimatum while speaking with newsmen Wednesday in Abuja, Okechukwu admonished Clark to support President Muhammadu Bahari’s administration to develop Nigeria, rather than engage in propaganda.
Clark had at a news conference recently, asked the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, constitute a negotiation team to engage in talks with the Niger Delta stakeholders before August 1.
Okechukwu while advising Clark to ask senators from Niger Delta what was delaying the signing of the loan to start projects in the region as promised by the Federal Government, noted that Clark during the PDP administration, had the opportunity to better the lots of the people of Niger Delta, but never did rather, “started building a private university, married a new wife and was enjoying himself without showing seriousness in matters affecting the region and its people”.
According to the VON DG, the Buhari government was working to ensure the delivery of true democratic dividends to Nigerians, saying that Nigerians had the right to vote out the APC government in 2019 if they were not satisfied with its performance.
“We were given a four-year tenure to start with, and if it suits the Nigerian people, they will re-elect the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari again or any other candidate in the APC. I was not very impressed with Chief Clark, a man I have respect for, because he is sounding as if everybody is opposed to devolution of power.”
Okechukwu maintained that Buhari’s administration, though inherited almost a failed state, determined to first, restructure the country’s sub-structure, stating that most states’ governments are owing salaries and pension arrears for 18 months when the administration came in.
The VON director-general said the Buhari administration had within two years of its tenure, spent about N1trillion in bail-out funds to address issues of salary arrears in states.
He added that the administration through a 500 million dollars foreign loan, rehabilitated roads in the Niger Delta when Clark never remembered to fix.
“Clark was there on May 13, 2010 in President Jonathan’s regime when the Minister of Finance and Economy Co-ordinator, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Eweala, told Nigerians that they had awarded 23 billion dollars for three refineries. The refineries were to be in Bayelsa, Lagos and in Kogi states; we didn’t see the 23 billion dollars and we didn’t see the refineries,” Okechukwu stated.
He said that the elder statesman should be asked where the three refineries were and why the East-West road was not completed and the coast line not done as promised by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government.