Says Naming the station after the former President is an insult — Edwin Clark
By Henry Umoru – Abuja
Former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Kiagbado Clark has taken a swipe at the Federal government for naming the railway complex in Agbor, Delta state after former President Goodluck Jonathan, describing such as callous and an insult.
He maintained that Jonathan deserves a national honour for ceding power willingly to President Buhari in 2015.
The Ijaw leader also condemned in very strong terms, the naming of one of Rail stations after former Premier of Western Region and Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, just as he said that both Jonathan and Awolowo deserved more than that in all its ramifications.
Addressing Journalists on Thursday, in Abuja in a Virtual Conference, the Elder state man who noted that the decision was not wise politically, said that naming the station after the former President was demeaning and clamping together people who have not made any meaningful marks in the country’s development alongside great men like Awolowo and Jonathan was not acceptable.
But Clark, however, said his people saw the gesture as degrading, especially when it has to be shared with such a caliber of people listed alongside Jonathan, adding that the naming of the station is not a compliment and honour, especially for one who was the brain behind the project from Abuja to Kaduna.
Clark who said he had already written a letter to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to protest the grouping of Jonathan along with other less prominent citizens of the country in the railway stations naming honours’ list, said that President Buhari must not do to Jonathan what he would not want to be done to himself.
He asked Amaechi to go back to his and reconcile with his irrespective of the political divide, rather than stay in Abuja and start insulting people.
Recall that Amaechi had recently announced President Buhari’s approval of the naming of the Agbor railway station and facilities along the Warri-Itapke corridor after the former president.
Other Nigerians including late Premier of Western Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo; the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; former Lagos state governors, Alhaji Lateef Jakande and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former Senate President, Bukola Saraki; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Tom Ikimi; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, among others, have since been named as beneficiaries of other railway stations and facilities naming by the federal government.
According to Clark, even if Jonathan accepts the honour “because he is a gentleman and will not want to complain to Buhari,” the Ijaw people will not.
“Jonathan was the president of the whole nation. We don’t like anybody to make a mess of him,” he said.
The Elder statesman said that if Jonathan and Awolowo had not been grouped with others, he would have probably accepted the honours, recalling that when people rejected the naming of UNILAG after late MKO Abiola, the government renamed the Abuja stadium after him, which he observed is a more befitting honour.
“I’m using Ameachi to tell Mr. President that what he will not like to be done to him, he should not do it to others,” he declared.
In the open letter to Amaechi, Clark said, “My dear the Hon. The Minister of Transportation, Firstly, I hope this letter will not come to you as a surprise, even as I also apologise for making it open.
“My main reason for writing this letter is on the recent action by the Federal Government and the Ministry of Transportation which is currently under your watch, that is, the naming of the Agbor Railway Station after His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, the immediate past President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“While it is said to be an honour on the former President by the Federal Government and your Ministry, the Ministry of Transportation, because it is a known fact that the resuscitation of rail transport is one of the legacy projects of the former President, but for us in the Niger Delta and indeed to well-meaning Nigerians this ‘honour’, diminishes the prestige of a former President when the honour is also bestowed on others.
“One is not in any way adducing that the others are not deserving of the honour bestowed on them, but the same way official responsibilities differ in importance and risks, the same consideration should be borne in mind when honouring people.
“For instance, how can Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Premier of Western Nigeria, be honoured with the naming of a Railway Station after him in addition to persons who were pupils who benefited from his Free Education Scheme in Western Nigeria? Even in giving National Honours, there are different awards for a different cadre of persons.
“It will interest you to know, Hon. Minister of Transportation that Chief Lateef Jakande was one of the closest aides to Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Mr. Alfred Rewane was one of his (Chief Obafemi Awolowo) assistants, who held the post of a Political Adviser. So how will such persons feel to be honoured equally with their principal?
“Therefore, naming the railway station in Agbor, Delta State, ‘Goodluck Jonathan Railway Station and Complex’, is a misnomer.
“The umbrella body of the Niger Delta, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), had issued a statement to condemn this action, which it described as “meaningless and belittling to the person and status of the former President”, and “demands the immediate reversal…Instead, a befitting National Infrastructure should be named after him.’
“I am in total support of the position of PANDEF, as the Convener PANDEF, and leader of the Niger Delta region.”
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