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Emergency Rule: Nyako, Gaidam Lampoon Edwin Clark

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SAN FRANCISCO, April 28, (THEWILL) â€' For calling on President Goodluck Jonathan to extend the Emergency Rule in the three North-eastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe and suspend the governors of the troubled states, the Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has come under severe criticism.

Lampooning Clark, who is also a former Minister of Information, was the governors of Adamawa State, Admiral Murtala Nyako, and his Yobe State counterpart, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam.

In a joint statement issued Monday by their spokespersons, Ahmad Sajoh and Abdullahi Bego, the two governors described Clark's call as 'unthoughtful,provocative, diversionary, totally out of sync with democratic norms and values and unfortunate.'

They also slammed the Akwa Ibom State governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio, for aligning himself with Clark on the issue, describing him and the Ijaw leader as promoters of fascism who are bent on undermining the nation's democracy.

'Their Excellences Governors Gaidam and Nyako and indeed all right thinking Nigerians consider these comments as unthoughtful, provocative, diversionary, totally out of sync with democratic norms and values and unfortunate.

'The phrase 'sole administrator', as noted by many commentators, is a 'constitutional aberration which cannot be found, even implied, in any of the 320 sections of the 1999 Constitution'. Mr. Clark's comments (and indeed Mr. Akpabio's) therefore smack of fascism and are clearly a veiled attempt at sabotaging our nation's democracy which should be resisted by all and sundry.,' the joint statement read in part, adding that it was unfortunate that both leaders who benefitted greatly from democracy could take this stance.

The statement said further: 'Curiously, both Clark and Akpabio are beneficiaries of constitutionalism and democracy in Nigeria. It is therefore mind boggling that the two would seek to put both constitutionalism and democracy in jeopardy on the altar of their personal interests.

'Mr. Clark made a very serious analytical faux pas when he tried to liken the security situation in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States with the situation in Ekiti State when an emergency rule was declared in that state during a previous administration. The situation between now and then could not be more different.

'As a former senator, Mr. Clark would ordinarily be assumed to understand the meaning of the provisions of section 305 of the 1999 Constitution which gives the President the power to declare a state of emergency in all or parts of the country. One would also assume that Mr. Clark would know that a state of emergency is also not exclusively applicable to security situations.

'That Mr. Clark would gladly and blindly ignore overriding legal opinion and historical contexts and suggest something that goes against the letter and spirit of our Constitution as a democratic nation go to show that not only is he not wishing Mr. President well; he in fact is bent on scuttling our democracy apparently in pursuit of totally parochial, ethnic and political agenda.

'It was argued that: First, Excellencies the governors of the affected states were democratically elected as governors by millions of people in their respective states. Currently, they represent and are serving more than ten million.

'Second, the security crisis in the three north-eastern states is widely seen and believed to be criminal and insurgent rather than religious or political. It has never led to a breakdown in governance in the three states or resulted in dangerous power struggle among politicians.

'Third, the governors have always responded by doing what needed to be done to protect the lives and property of the people by supporting the security agencies on the ground morally, financially and logistically even though the ongoing state of emergency means that they do not have control over security operations.

'They have also led a very serious effort at mobilising the populations of their states to support the ongoing security effort and to pray fervently to God in mosques and churches and homes.

Military commanders and security chiefs on the ground in the states can testify to this. Given that the maintenance and promotion of security is a collective responsibility, the governors deserve commendation for what they have done and continue to do rather than the kind of contempt and disrespect shown by people such as Mr. Edwin Clark, who has no proper and reasonable understanding of the issues at stake.

'Mr. Clark also demonstrated crass ignorance and insensitivity to the plight of people in the Northeast by suggesting that somehow the missing Chibok school girls would not have been kidnapped if Borno State was under a 'total state of emergency'. Is Mr. Clark not aware that over the past 12 months, there was all manner of security presence in the three states when we witnessed some of the most heinous and despicable terrorist attacks on our schools in Mamudo, Buni Yadi and Gujba and on our towns and villages from Izge to Baga?

'Clearly, Mr. Clark does not appear concerned about the difficulties that our people go through daily as a result of the prevailing security situation even as people in the three affected states have continued to demonstrate commendable levels of support and partnership with the security agents on the ground.

'Excellencies Governors Gaidam and Nyako therefore reject and condemn in their totality the anti-democratic sentiments expressed by Mr. Edwin Clark. The governors call on Mr. Clark, now in his 80's, to use his age and experience by contributing to the peace and unity of the nation rather than stoking tensions and being a voice for division and disunity.'

The embattled governors however urged Nigerians to ignore what they described as Clark's unstatesmanlike and unfortunate comments, saying they should continue to support the broad based effort aimed at addressing the security challenges currently facing the country.

They also restated their commitment to mobilising all available resources and partner with all stakeholders to ensure that peace returns to the region in particular and the country as a whole.