Southern leaders under the auspices of the Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly (SNP), yesterday, took on President Muhammadu Buhari over what they described as his lopsided appointments and selective fight against corruption.
Speaking at the meeting of the elders council held in Akure, the Ondo State capital of the SNP, led by a former Federal Commissioner for Information, Chief Edwin Clark, though expressing support for Buhari’s fight against corruption, kicked against what he termed his bias in the anti-corruption crusade.
Members of the council who joined Clark at the meeting were Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on 2014 National Conference, Senator Femi Okorounmu; leader of the South-west delegation, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Gbonigi; former Vice-President, Alex Ekuweme; A third Republic Senator, Ngoji Denton-West; former Minister of Transport and Aviation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope; Prof Ikechukwu Madubuike, Kunle Olajide and former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, Ndongesit Ekang.
Others were Senator Tony Adefuye, former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Prof Olu Agbi, among others.
Speaking at the meeting, Clark, according to the News Agency of Nigerian (NAN) said: “The resolve of President Buhari’s administration to wage a decisive war against corruption which is essential to put Nigeria on the global map of business-friendly nations that will earn the country prosperity is a most welcome development.
“However, it is important to state that the dialectics of corruption, as pervasive and diverse, require a holistic fight to tame its pervading scourge. Thus, it must not be seen to be selective and limited to some perceived political enemies and foes to score cheap political points.
“For Nigeria to succeed in the war to eliminate the cancerous spread of this malaise, all those who contributed in one way or another to ruin the prospects of a great country like Nigeria and have brought us to this despicable position should be made to account for their actions.
“It is only then the battle against corruption is genuinely and seriously fought without fear or favour that endearing legacies of a transformed country could bequeathed to future generations.”
Clark added:“As Nigerians, we are all equal without regard to race, creed and tribe. It is therefore my candid appeal to President Buhari to live his priceless mantra ‘I belong to everybody, but I belong to nobody’ in the manner, that the affairs of state are conducted, regardless of who gave him 95 per cent votes and five per cent of votes.”
In his submission, Rev. Gbonigi appealed to the president to be total and non-selective in the fight against corruption, going after corrupt persons in all the political parties, unsparing even his closest political associates.
The former Bishop of the Akure Anglican Diocese pointed out that justice and rule of law must reign supreme if the fight against corruption must be won.
On appointment of Buhari’s team, Bishop Gbonigi appealed that the President should ensure that “no section of the country is marginalised in appointments and sighting of development projects. Elections are over and President Buhari is now the president over all Nigeria and Nigerians. No section of the country should be over patronised at the expense of others. It is therefore our sincere hope that the lopsidedness in the appointment made by Mr. President to date is not an indication of the trend of future appointments.”
Bishop Gbonigi also condemned a “situation where the President, Senate President, the Speaker and Chief Justice of Nigeria are all from the North is not acceptable. The south is not subservient to the North and the situation in which only the deputies are zoned to the south is not acceptable.
Similarly, Ekuweme who spoke for the South-east through Prof. Ikechukwu Madubuike, affirmed that the ongoing anti-graft war of President Buhari must be holistic and not selective.
The former vice-president also called for the restructuring of the country in line with true federalism.
On his part, Ndongesit Ekang, who spoke for the South-south said except appointments are balanced, achievement would be minimal.
Ekang recommended that the fight against corruption should go round the three tiers of government, adding that politicising the fight against corruption is a disservice to the country.
Governor Olusegun Mimiko called for the implementation of the 2014 National Conference report, saying that the total restructuring of the country will bring “us to the Nigeria of our dreams,” adding that “it will be a disaster to confine the report of the conference to the dustbin of history.”