EU, Clark warn against military occupation of Niger Delta

The European Union, EU, has warned against the “militarization” of the restive Niger Delta region, contending that while it is necessary to punish those who break the law, military option alone is not the solution to the crisis.

Head of EU Delegation in Nigeria, Ambassador Michel Arrion, gave the warning, weekend, when he visited the Executive Chairman, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, in Abuja.

His admonition came as the leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Development Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark, also spoke in the same vein.

Clark, who spoke in a separate interview with Vanguard in Abuja, said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration must understand that Nigeria was not in a military era, saying the use of force in the Niger Delta would be disastrous and counter-productive.

According to him: “The Federal Government should realize that we are not in a military regime. We are in a democracy. Therefore, armed conflict would be disastrous. It will not help anybody. It will not help the government and it will not help the Niger Delta people. That is why we are advising that let us dialogue. When we dialogue, we will know where the differences are and we will know how to come to an agreement.

“[That is our advice to Mr. President and he should not sit on our demands for too long. These things must be attended to as soon as possible. We may not have this opportunity (of meeting him) again. If nothing is done for some time and you ask Niger Delta people to go and see Mr. President, they might not go and that will be very dangerous.

“So, my advice is that, one, when the Federal Government threatened the Niger Delta with force, that they would go into the area, oil production fell to about a million barrels per day. The Minister of State for Petroleum said the other day that since we have been talking to our “boys”, and since we have been trying to discuss with the Federal Government, the oil production has gone up to about 2.1 million barrels per day.

“So, that is the present position now and with the fall in oil prices, you need the quantity to make up. So, if the Federal Government decides to take the other way round of trying to attack people, occupy our community and kill people, it would be very disastrous. It will not be in anybody’s interest. The oil production will go down while innocent people would be killed. So, we advise Mr President to treat this matter as a priority.”

The EU, on its part, said the Niger Delta issue deserved a multi-pronged approach situated within the global context.

Arrion said a combination of economic, political and military response was the best panacea to militancy.

He said: “I believe that what is happening in the Niger Delta deserves a global response and a global approach. I do believe that ‘one size does not fit all’. I don’t think a military response or an economic response or political response alone would be sufficient. We need probably the three components of the global response. So, as EU, we are involved in all those dimensions of the Niger Delta issues, politically, economically and also socially.

“We are at the disposal of the Nigerian authorities to support any kind of political process. We are also here with external assistance and in the longer term to look at the possibility of European investment in the region. But no investors will come where there is insecurity, without roads or electricity. So, we need all those things fixed in consistent manner. I was really delighted to hear from the chairman (of NDDC) that one of the priorities is to look at the masterplan.

“We will see it. What is the plan and how can we work together to transform it into an action-plan where Nigeria will play the first role? The international community can support or complement that.”

Responding, Senator Ndoma-Egba lamented the non-implementation of the 15-year master plan of the Niger Delta even 10 years after its implementation was supposed to have begun.

“I believe you were here when I mentioned to his Excellency (Arrion) that the master plan that we have for the Niger Delta region is 10 years old and it has a life span of 15 years. It was envisaged for 15 years. Ten years into the plan, it has not been implemented. So, you need to first either revalidate or update, or you come up with a brand new plan.

“But there needs to be a framework for stakeholder engagement because all stakeholders must be part of that plan. The annual budget of the Niger Delta should just be an incremental step towards realizing an overall plan. But for now we have annual budgets that are not part of any plan. So, we must go back to a master plan. What kind of region do we envisage? What kind of region do we want to see in 10 years, in 15 years? And we begin to benchmark whatever we do to implement the plan,” Ndoma-Egba said.

Dialogue: New Militant Group Rejects Clark, Backs Diete-Spiff

A new militant group, Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, which has claimed responsibility for attacks on oil facilities in the upland area of the Niger Delta, on Monday warned the Federal Government not to negotiate with Chief Edwin Clark-led negotiation team on behalf of militants in the region.

Instead of Chief Clark’s team, the group said they will accept any dialogue coming from the government through the Niger Delta Dialogue Contact Group, led by the first military governor of Rivers State and Amanyanabo (traditional ruler) of Twon Brass of Bayelsa State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff.

The Niger Delta Avengers had on Saturday said they were ready to support any collective/negotiation team emerging from Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark and other genuine Niger Delta stakeholders.

But in a statement issued by the spokesperson of the NDGJM, Aldo Agbalaja, on Monday, the group said the Ijaw national leader cannot negotiate for militants in the region, noting that Clark’s team was the same ‘gang of breast-pocket politicians’ who in the six to seven years of Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency denied the region of development.

It threatened to carry out further deadly attacks on oil institution until the President Muhammadu Buhari does the right thing for the people of the region.

The statement read, “We are also aware that there is a group (NDDCG), led by the Amanyanabo of Twon Brass, Alfred Diete-Spiff, which has the involvement of some international agencies. We would rather the Federal Government builds on this group to reach out to the genuine representatives of the peoples of the region, across the six states, to discuss the way forward. The reason is that we believe that what is worth doing at all is worth doing well.

“Build on this group and reach out to our people, not on an Edwin Clark group which had connived with Jonathan in the past to subject this region, including the majority of our Ijaw brothers, to one of the most untold humiliations by leaving the region they claimed to be representing worse than it was under previous administrations.

“Enough of these buccaneers in the name of leaders of the region. Our people from both the upland and the creeks deserve a better deal, not the Avengers kind of deal. We are serving a notice that the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate is still carrying on with this campaign against Nigeria’s oil and gas interest until the Federal Government does the right thing.”

NDGJM added that the same people who established the Niger Delta Avengers were the same people who called for the ceasefire.

“Niger Delta Avengers: As a matter of fact, the people who called for truce were the same set of people who put the Avengers together in the first place. Therefore, the hypocrisy of these people is becoming glaring to the world by the day.

“We also know that the charade called ceasefire is in the bid to collect more money from both the Federal Government and oil companies, which would be shared between the founders and the boys of the Avengers. We hereby serve a notice that the so-called truce called by E.K. Clark and co. is not recognised by the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, as we do not see Clark as the leader of all Niger Delta, but of only the Ijaw nation.

“Therefore, President Buhari should take note. Stop wasting your time on these people; they are not serving the interest of the Niger Delta and they cannot stop the current campaign. They can only withdraw their boys, the Avengers, from action but not the genuine campaigners for a better Niger Delta.

“We hereby serve a notice that the so-called truce called by E.K. Clark and co. is not recognised by the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, as we do not see Clark as the leader of all Niger Delta, but of only the Ijaw nation”, the statement further added.

Reuben Abati: Clark, The Father, Jonathan, The son

I have tried delaying the writing of this piece in the honest expectation that someone probably misquoted Chief E.K. Clark, when he reportedly publicly disowned former President Goodluck Jonathan. I had hoped that our dear father, E.K. Clark, would issue a counter statement and say the usual things politicians say: “they quoted me out of context!”  “Jonathan is my son”. That has not happened; rather, some other Ijaw voices, including one Joseph Evah, have come to the defence of the old man, to join hands in rubbishing a man they once defended to the hilt and used as a bargaining chip for the Ijaw interest in the larger Nigerian geo-politics.


If President Jonathan had returned to power on May 29, 2015, these same persons would have remained in the corridors of power, displaying all forms of ethnic triumphalism. It is the reason in case they do not realize it, why the existent power blocs that consider themselves most fit to rule, continue to believe that those whose ancestors never ran empires can never be trusted with power, hence they can only be admitted as other people’s agents or as merchants of their own interests which may even be defined for them as is deemed convenient. Mercantilism may bring profit, but in power politics, it destroys integrity and compromises otherwise sacred values.


President Jonathan being publicly condemned by his own Ijaw brothers, particularly those who were once staunch supporters of his government further serves the purpose of exposing the limits of the politics of proximity. Politics in Africa is driven by this particular factor; it is at the root of all the other evils: prebendalism, clientelism and what Matthew Kukah has famously described as the “myownisation of power”.  It is both positive and negative, but obviously, more of the latter than the former. It is considered positive only when it is beneficial to all parties concerned, and when the template changes, the ground also shifts. As in that song, the solid rock of proximity is soon replaced by shifting sands. Old worship becomes new opportunism. And the observant public is left confounded.


Chief E.K. Clark? Who would ever think, Chief E.K. Clark would publicly disown President Jonathan?  He says Jonathan was a weak President. At what point did he come to that realization? Yet, throughout the five years (not six, please) of the Jonathan Presidency, he spoke loudly against anyone who opposed the President. He was so combative he was once quoted as suggesting that Nigeria could have problems if Jonathan was not allowed to return to office. Today, he is the one helping President Jonathan’s successor to quench the fires. He always openly said President Jonathan is “his son”. Today, he is not just turning against his own son, he is telling the world his son as President lacked the political will to fight corruption. He has also accused his son of being too much of a gentleman. Really? Gentlemanliness would be considered honourable in refined circles.  Is Pa E.K. Clark recommending something else in order to prove that he is no longer a politician but a statesman as he says?


As someone who was a member of the Jonathan administration, and who interacted often with the old man, I can only say that I am shocked.  This is the equivalent of the old man deleting President Jonathan’s phone number and ensuring that calls from his phone no longer ring at the Jonathan end. During the Jonathan years, Chief E. K. Clark was arguably the most vocal Ijaw leader defending the government. He called the President “my son”, and both father and son remained in constant touch.


There is something about having the President’s ears in a Presidential system, elevated to the level of a fetish in the clientilist Nigerian political system. Persons in the corridors of power who have the President’s ear- be they cook, valet, inlaws, wife, cousin, former school mates, priests, or whatever, enjoy special privileges. They have access to the President and they can whisper into his ears. That’s all they have as power: the power to whisper and run a whispering campaign that can translate into opportunities or losses for those outside that informal power loop around every Presidency, that tends to be really influential.


Every President must beware of those persons who come around calling them “Daddy”, “Uncle”, na my brother dey there”, “my son”, “our in-law”: emotional blackmailers relying on old connections. They are courted, patronized and given more attention and honour than they deserve by those looking for access to the President or government. Even when the power and authority of the whispering exploiters of the politics of proximity is contrived, they go out of their way to exaggerate it. They acquire so much from being seen to be in a position to make things happen.


Chief E. K. Clark had the President’s ears. He had unfettered access to his son. He was invited to most state events.  And he looked out for the man he called “my son”, in whom he was well pleased. Chief Clark’s energy level in the service of the Jonathan administration was impressive. Fearless and outspoken, he deployed his enormous talents in the service of the Jonathan government.  If a press statement was tame, he drew attention to it and urged a more robust defence of “your boss”. If any invective from the APC was overlooked, he urged prompt rebuttal. If the party was tardy in defending “his son”, he weighed in.


If anyone had accused the President of lacking “the political will to fight corruption” at that time, he, E.K. Clark, would have called a press conference to draw attention to the Jonathan administration’s institutional reforms and preventive measures, his commitment to electoral integrity to check political corruption, and the hundreds of convictions secured by both the ICPC and EFCC under his son’s watch. So prominent and influential was he, that ministers, political jobbers etc etc trooped to his house to pay homage.


In due course, those who opposed President Jonathan did not spare Chief E. K. Clark either. He was accused of making inflammatory and unstatesman-like statements. An old war-horse, nobody could intimidate him. He was not President Olusegun Obasanjo’s fan in particular. He believed Obasanjo wanted to sabotage his son, and he wanted Obasanjo put in his place. Beneath all of that, was an unmistaken rivalry between the two old men, seeking to control the levers of Nigerian politics.


Every President probably needs a strong, passionate ally like Chief E. K. Clark. But what happened? What went wrong? Don’t get me wrong. I am not necessarily saying that the Ijaw leader should have remained loyal to and defend Goodluck Jonathan because they are both Ijaws, patriotism definitely could be stronger than ethnic affinities, nonetheless that E. K. Clark tale about leaving politics and becoming a statesman is nothing but sheer crap.  If Jonathan had returned to office, he would still be a card-carrying member of the PDP and the “father of the President” and we would still have been hearing that famous phrase, “my son”. Chief E. K. Clark, five months after, has practically told the world that President Buhari is better than “his own son”.


 It is the worst form of humiliation that President Jonathan has received since he left office.  It is also the finest compliment that President Buhari has received since he assumed office. The timing is also auspicious: just when the public is beginning to worry about the direction of the Buhari government, E. K. Clark shows up to lend a hand of support and endorsement. Only one phrase was missing in his statement, and it should have been added: “my son, Buhari.” It probably won’t be too long before we hear the old man saying “I am a statesman, Buhari is my son.”  I can imagine President Obasanjo grinning with delight. If he really wants to be kind, he could invite E.K. Clark to his home in Ota or Abeokuta to come and do the needful by publicly tearing his PDP membership card and join him in that exclusive club of Nigerian statesmen! The only problem with that club these days is that you can become a member by just saying so or by retiring from partisan politics. We are more or less being told that there are no statesmen in any of the political parties.  


It is not funny. Julius Ceasar asked Brutus in one of the famous lines in written literature: “Et tu Brutus?” President Jonathan should ask Chief E. K. Clark: “Et tu Papa?” To which the father will probably tell the son: “Ces’t la vie, mon cher garcon.”  And really, that is life. In the face of other considerations, loyalties vanish; synergies collapse. The wisdom of the tribe is overturned; the politics of proximity dissolves; loyalties remain in a perpetual process of construction.  Thus, individual interests and transactions drive the political game in Nigeria, with time and context as key determinants.


These are teachable moments for President Jonathan. Power attracts men and women like bees to nectar, the state of powerlessness ends as a journey to the island of loneliness. However, the greatest defender of our work in office is not our ethnic “fathers and “brothers” but rather our legacy. The real loss is that President Jonathan’s heroism, his messianic sacrifice in the face of defeat, is being swept under the carpet and his own brothers who used to say that the Ijaws are driven by a principle of “one for all and all for another”, have become agent-architects of his pain. The Ijaw platform having seemingly been de-centered, Chief E.K. Clark and others are seeking assimilation in the new power structure. It is a telling reconstruction of the politics of proximity and mimicry.


Chief E.K. Clark once defended the rights of ethnic minorities to aspire to the highest offices in the land, his latest declaration about his son reaffirms the existing stereotype at the heart of Nigeria’s hegemonic politics. The same hegemons and their agents whom Clark used to fight furiously will no doubt find him eminently quotable now that he has proclaimed that it is wrong to be a “gentleman”, and that his son lacks “the political will to fight corruption”. There is more to this than we may ever know. Chief Clark can insist from now till 2019,  that he has spoken as a statesman and as a matter of principle. His re-alignment,  is curious nonetheless. 

Those Who Ruined Nigeria Must Be Dealt With, E,K Clark Urges President Buhari

Former Federal Commissioner for Information and South South leader, Chief Edwin Clark yesterday raised alarm over the  level of corruption in the country and the economic crunch which have all combined to stagnate the progress of Nigeria over the years. He warned that if President Muhammadu Buhari fails to deal severely with those who ruined Nigeria over the years, Nigeria as a country would sink.

In a six-page letter to President Buhari which was read to journalists yesterday at his Asokoro residence, Abuja, Chief Clark urged him to as a matter of urgency appoint a new Chairman for the Amnesty Programme as a replacement for the immediate past Chairman of the programme, Chief Kingsley Kuku, adding that he would be a sad man if the Amnesty programme fails.

E. K. Clark


According to the Elder statesman, the President should know what it means to Nigeria as a country to have peace in the Niger Delta, just as he stressed  that quick appointment of a new Chairman even in acting capacity would help stop the imminent disintegration of the programme that has kept the peace in the Niger Delta.

The Ijaw leader said that the vacuum already created following the absence of Kuku’s successor was creating tension and if not managed immediately, it would lead to that era when the activities of the militants in the creeks, contributed to crude oil fall to about 7,000 barrel per day, compared to the present situation of 2.5 million barrel per day, adding that the problem with the programme at the moment, was lack of an authority to operate the account of the programme.

According to him, “the economy of the country and the eradication of corruption which has become systematic and endemic that has stagnated the progress of this country over the years and the culprit if not severely dealt with will sink the country. We, therefore, pray the Almighty God that these discussions will materialise and  achieve the desired result.

“Secondly, I now respectfully wish to bring to the attention of Mr. President the imminent danger facing the Amnesty programme. It would be recalled, that the former chairman of Amnesty programme and Adviser to Mr. President on Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Kingsley Kuku has since vacated his office as a result of change of government, but unfortunately, he has not been replaced by an  appointee even in acting capacity by Mr. President, and as a result, the whole  programme for now, is without leadership, and no one has the authority to operate the account of the Amnesty programme.”

– Source –