By Dr. Pogu Bitrus
The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) is happy to felicitate with our Elder Statesman and Chief Advocate of justice, equity and fairness for Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark, on his propitious attainment of 95 years today, Wednesday, May 25, 2022.
There is no doubt that Chief Clark’s attainment of 95 years is worthy of celebration, but at the same time offers a moment of sober reflection for a nation, taking into cognisance, the existential threats from criminal gangs taking advantage of the flawed structures of our Federation.
Walking past the milestone age of 95 by the highly respected elder statesman, the raging challenges of insecurity and genocidal attacks launched against ethnic nationalities of the Nigerian nation makes it imperative for us to reflect on the footprints of the past, with the ultimate objective of addressing issues that confront national unity and development.
It is indubitable that Chief Clark celebrates another birthday today at a time the nation is still being stalked by monsters of destruction whose ultimate goal is to decimate our communities and turn our nation into rivers of blood. Chief Clark celebrates yet another birthday amidst threat by terrorists, who bombed the Abuja-Kaduna train, to kill all captured passengers in their custody if the government does not yield to their demands.
Worried by the incessant strikes embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), the PANDEV leader recently called on the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, to take over negotiations with the striking university teachers in order to resolve the feud and ensure speedy opening of university gates for students for resumption of academic activities.
Considering the footprints of Chief Clark’s unrivalled commitment to the emancipation of the minorities from the clutches of forces holding the jugular of these ethnic groups, he has become that undying metaphor that is neither tired of demanding for freedom nor weary in protesting against the enthronement of unconstitutionality within Nigeria’s flawed federal structure.
As leader and father of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Chief Clark has always led the struggle for a new Nigeria from the front and remains at the forefront of combating militancy as well as engaging critical stakeholders in the Niger Delta for dialogue, which has led to unhindered oil production and consequential increase in revenue generation.
More than the above, the elder statesman has been involved in engaging with stakeholders from the Niger Delta and other regions to work towards the creation of a pan-Nigeria system that work for not only ethnic nationalities in the country, but such a system must carry the interest of all citizens across ethnic, religious and political divides.
His unrelenting quest for national stability and enthronement of constitutional federalism, including recognising the rights, privileges, aspirations and sensibilities of coalescing entities, set him apart as a true nationalist whose love for his country has sustained his interest in the survival of Nigeria.
As an umbrella organisation of ethnic nationalities in the Middle Belt, we salute the sterling attributes of Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark and his undying dream of uniting ethnic nationalities towards making Nigeria works for everyone. We have found the leadership of Chief Clark indefatigable and visionary. We join millions of this inspiring patriot in wishing him a Happy Birthday. We wish Chief Clark who is the father of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities continued good health in the service of our diverse peoples and Nigeria.
The author is the National President of the Middle Belt Forum, (MBF).