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Delta State: Pa Clark, Gov Okowa and absurdity of 48 hours ultimatum



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By Ifeanyi Izeze

Whether the outburst and fleet of allegations ascribed to the former minister of information, Chief Edwin Clark, concerning the administration of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, was true or not is immaterial as the elder statesman has a right to express his views on any matter especially as it concerns the state to which all of us belong.

My worry is that Pa Clark had to wait for almost nine months since after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primaries that threw up the Delta state governor as the vice presidential candidate of the party.

Now you want him to resign his acceptance of the slot few days to the presidential election because in your conclusion he betrayed the interest of the people of Southern Nigeria, abi?

Why was this counsel or rather protest not raised immediately after the party primaries or even one month after so Okowa can have ample time to ponder and/or rethink his decision? Rather the elder statesman or whosoever chose to come out with his/their position on this just few days to the election. Haba! Is this not absurd?

It will be wrong to believe that it took Chief Clark almost nine months since May 28 2022 to pen this letter which in the first instance was so laced with issues that has nothing to do with Okowa’s acceptance to run as Atiku’s vice.

Pa Clark, the convener of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) had in his open letter accused Okowa of being a dictator, corrupt and betraying the people of the South for accepting to be Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s running mate.

The Ijaw leader also demanded Okowa resigns as Atiku’s vice presidential running mate and tender apology to the people of the Southern Nigeria particularly governors of the region. He also accused the governor of using Delta state resources to fund his vice presidential ambition.

If there are genuine and provable cases of corruption and misapplication of Delta state resources including the 13 percent derivation fund to finance his vice presidential ambition as alleged, is it not better to petition the EFCC or even ICPC rather than throwing the case to the media for cheap popularity stunt?

Bringing up issues of corruption and mismanagement of state resources was nothing but a covering to embellish the crux of the open letter which is: Okowa’s acceptance to run with Atiku as his vice president.

It has been said severally that the biggest problem of Delta state (and some other Niger Delta states) is using state resources patronage to demigods scattered amongst the various ethnic nationalities in the region. Once it’s no longer coming as usual you’ve become dictatorial and the gods will unleash their demons to enforce reinstatement.

In the open letter captioned: “Your Dictatorial Government and the Reign of Unaccountability in Delta State,” the elder statesman said “Today, I say with certainty that you are more dictatorial than any other Military Administrator that has administered Delta State since its creation in 1991. I can therefore understand why you have deliberately and immorally betrayed your colleagues of Southern Nigeria and the people for your own selfish ambition by wanting to land on a safer ground by accepting to serve as running mate to Atiku Abubakar.

“It is therefore in your own interest to openly apologise to your colleagues of both APC and PDP whom you deceived in taking a decision you never believed in. After your unreserved apology to your people and Southern Nigeria, you should step down your ambition of becoming Vice-Presidential candidate of the PDP. There your honour lies.”


Unequivocally, Clark deserves and has always been duly respected as an elder statesman and a highly esteemed father in Delta state, but it has to be stated here categorically that this very open letter ascribed to him fell far short of the workings of his tact as can be decoded from his antecedents.

First it was claimed that Chief Clark did the open letter to the Delta state governor which is disputable because Papa Clark has never been known before now to use such extreme harsh words to make his points in issues he had criticised before in previous administrations. This can be crosschecked!

Now barely 24 hours after Governor Okowa’s media aide issued a statement to clarify the allegations purportedly raised by the elder statesman against the governor, a group that calls itself Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) issued another statement giving the governor a 48 hour ultimatum to retract his “attacks on Edwin Clark, the Ijaw national leader within 48 hours. Curiously, the semantics and tones of the PANDEF statement were not different from those of the open letter purportedly authoured by Pa Clark.

In a statement, on Sunday 5th February 2023, Ken Robinson, PANDEF spokesperson, said Okowa should answer the queries raised by Clark and not “sink deeper into the pit”.

“PANDEF, thus, finds it stunning that less than 24 hours after Chief Clark wrote an open letter to the governor, raising various troubling issues, Ifeanyi Okowa has been quick to reply him; avoiding answers to the veracity of the issues raised, but dwelling on the towering image, integrity and personality of this great national icon.”

“As a regional body that represents the interests of the people of the entire Niger Delta, PANDEF is compelled to note that the response on the matter by Okowa’s commissioner for information, Charles Aniagwu, is thoughtless and disingenuous.”

Without mincing words, it’s obvious the name of Papa Clark is being used as a franchise to hit back on Okowa for reasons that are at best blurred and at worst obscured. The elder statesman used to have direct access to the governor and can call and tell him whatever his concerns are but choosing to write an Obasanjo-like open letter though different in tone, is very curious at best and/or suspicious.

Papa Clark couldn’t have used some of the extremely harsh words used in the letter if he were to be the author because for sure he knows better. And even if the Elder statesman decided to be very angry with his son, the governor, it was in the place of the PANDEF spokesperson, Ken Robinson to have toned down the rhetoric and that’s why he’s there.

From what was said in the letter, it is obvious that few people including the PANDEF spokesperson who believe they are more Niger Deltan than Okowa decided to attack him using Pa Clark’s name as a seal not minding the consequences.

It was not Ifeanyi Okowa that was derogated; rather it was the Office of the Executive Governor of Delta state that’s being desecrated. Though today Okowa is sitting there as governor, tomorrow it will be another person from another part of Delta state. So the Office  is far bigger and more halo than an individual governor serving at a giving time. The PANDEF spokesperson and his co-travellers should have known that.

Openly giving an executive governor a 48 Hour ultimatum to retract his press statement and apologise to an elder statesman was very callous and overstepping of the bounds by PANDEF. No other way to say it! It was an outright desecration of the halo office of the executive governor. This is beyond Okowa and this point has to be made and strongly too.

Now how do you explain that at the expiration of the 48 Hour ultimatum, the governor’s convoy was attacked in Ihiala area of Anambra state where his security aides were brutally murdered. How do the two incidents connect or it was a mere happenstance? This is the question that the security agencies need to decode. Na person wey never go another person papa farm dey think say na him papa farm big pass for their village. Deep thinking is the problem of my people. God bless Delta State!

  • Mr. Izeze is a National Daily Columnist and can be reached on: [email protected]; 08033043009

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