Edwin Clark blasts governors, says some now wealthier than their states


Former  Federal  Commissioner 
for  Information  and 
South  South  Leader, 
Chief Edwin Clark has brutally accused State Governors that they  spend their security votes as they will and
no one knows how much it amounts to.


Clark who noted this in his 688 page Brutally Frank, his
autobiography, said that corruption is the great tragedy of Nigeria.


Recall that the book which has twenty-five,  unveiled at the International  Conference 
Centre,  ICC, Abuja on Thursday
this week, revolves  round  the 
journey  of  Clark 
as  a  classroom 
teacher, a Commissioner, a Minister, a Senator and a National  activist spanning over seven decades.


In Chapter 23, titled, Kleptocracy in our society from
Pages  539 to 542, Clark who took a swipe
at the Governors, said that they were nowhere yesterday and have now become so
rich and powerful overnight because they were elected as  Governors, just as he accused them that some
of the State executives  have become so
wealthy that they are wealthier than their states.


The Elderstatesman 
also accused President  Bola  Tinubu and the President  of 
the  Senate,  Senator 
Godswill  Akpabio  of introducing  what he described  as two irresponsible laws when they were
Governors  of Lagos and Akwa Ibom  respectively, adding that the Life Pension
Law was  introduced by  Tinubu, while the Former Governor and Deputy
Governor’s Pension Bill 2014 was 
introduced by  Akpabio.


Clark in the book said, “It is most regrettable and
disappointing that corruption has eaten so deep into all facets of the Federal
Government, to the extent that those we expected to eradicate corruption in
their States and the Attorney-General under whom anti-corruption agencies
operate, seem to be involved in scandalous practices over the Paris Club
repayment of loan. A situation whereby some lawyers  bargain with the Governors Forum as to how
much they are entitled to in the repayment being made to them by the local
government even though it is not possible to follow all the exchanges.


“Corruption is the great tragedy of Nigeria. It is defined
as “a form of dishonesty or criminal offence undertaken by a person or an
organisation entrusted with a position of authority to acquire illicit benefits
or abuse of power for one’s private gain.”


“It can rightly be said that the British colonial government
was the first to  introduce corruption to
Nigeria in their scramble for Africa with other European countries after the
Berlin Conference of 1884 through the traditional chiefs who acted as their
agents. A typical case which affected my people is the role played by the
British colonial government in using a powerful local chief in the Niger Delta,
Chief Dore Numa, to remove other local chiefs from office when they refused to
cooperate with the colonial government. A good example is Chief Nana Olomu of
Koko Benin River. An expedition war was staged Bainst him in 1892 and he was
later deported to Accra in the Gold Coast.


“This gave the colonial government uninterrupted entry into
the interior land.

“Similarly, they used the same Chief Dore Numa against His
Royal Highness, Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi of Benin Kingdom in 1897. He too was
deported, but this time to Calabar, where he spent the rest of his life. This
gave the British Oficers room to loot local artifacts and monuments. The
looting of artefacts in 1897 was carried out by Capt. Philip, who further sold
them to various countries in Europe. It is remarkable that today, a lot of
these artifacts sold to Germany are being voluntarily returned by the German
government after 124 years.


“The same British government rewarded Chief Dore Numa by
making him a Paramount Chief of the Itsekiri people and the political agent of
the British.


“This gave him enormous power over others. The British
government used him to acquire extensive land in Warri township which was
leased to prominent businessmen in the same Warri township. In fact, there was
much to be said of British corrupt practices as in the famous 1925 case of
Omenta v. Chief Dore Numa – a case which Chief Omenta brought in defence of
Agbasa people. Chief Dore Numa had fraudulently leased to the British a portion
of Agbasa land. An intelligence report stated that the case went on to Appeal
in 1934; whereas, Chief Dore Numa had died in 1932.


“It was expected, based on the foregoing, that this trend of
corrupt practices would be handed over to Nigerians when eventually they became
part of government.


There was one of such alleged corruption cases involving the
Premier of Eastern Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the foremost
politician at the time. A Nigerian Tribunal of Enquiry was appointed to enquire
into allegations of improper conduct (on the 4th of August, 1956), by the
Premier of Eastern Region and certain other persons holding ministerial and
other public offices in the Eastern Region of Nigeria. The alleged improper conduct
was in connection with the affairs of the African Continental Bank (ACB) Ltd.
and other relevant matters with the minutes of evidence taken before the
Tribunal by Nigeria.


“A statement was made by the Hon. Premier in the House of
Assembly on the 8th of August, 1956 during the debate on a motion to appoint a
Judge of the High Court of the United Kingdom and independent persons to serve
in a Commission of Enquiry to investigate the relationship of the Hon. Premier
with ACB. This enquiry was going on at this particular time when Dr. Nnamdi
Azikiwe was the pre-eminent champion for the struggle for Nigeria’s
independence. He was indeed very popular all over Nigeria.


“Once again, I want to re-emphasise that corruption has
eaten deep into the fabric four society and unless corruption is reduced, it
will destroy Nigeria. As said earlier, Nigerian Governors have enormous powers.
But what have they done with these powers? Nothing, except to enrich


“It is a pity that Governors who were nowhere yesterday,
become so rich and powerful overnight because they were elected Governors.
Their powers as Governors and the money they have access to allow them to do
anything, except that which God has not permitted them to do. In fact, some
Governors have become so wealthy that they are wealthier than their states.
Contracts are awarded at inflated prices and the governor has to take 80% of
the project for himself and only 20% goes to the state which he serves. This is
illicit and criminal. Governors are now demi-gods because they own almost
everything imaginable.


“Governors spend their security vote as they will and no one
knows how much the security vote amount to. The elected members of the House of
Assembly are their nominees and dare not challenge them. I think an inspection
should be done to limit the amount of security vote governors and every other
person in government are entitled to.


“A situation where governors are driven in a convoy of cars,
all the food they eat in the Government House is free, and everything they do
in the Government House is at the expense of the masses who live in deplorable
conditions. The communities in their territories do not have access to basic
amenities, yet these governors, in spite of the recession that is in this
country, are comfortable in the Government Houses they occupy.


“They have not shown their remorse. It is not enough to say
“I will earn only half of my salary”; there must be a re-organisation and a
restructuring of these Government Houses to reflect the economic situation in
the country.


I recall watching the Senate debate on the 2017 budget on
television and what were the Senators debating? In the Government Houses,
cutlery is bought every year at millions of naira. Then one Senator asked the
question, “What happened to the cutlery that was bought the previous year or
even two years ago?” Nobody cares about that. This is very unfair and not good
enough. A new twist to corruption is the unnecessary laws which governors get
their stooges in the State Houses of Assembly to make so as to give them (the
governors) life pension. I consider this the height of their recklessness. What
they get in terms of benefits in just four years is more than what any
‘faithful’ civil or public servant can get in 30 or 35 years of active service.


“Two examples of such irresponsible laws are: The Life
Pension Law introduced by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, former Governor of Lagos
State and The Former Governor and Deputy Governor’s Pension Bill 2014
introduced by the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Obot Akpabio.


“It will be recalled that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who was
Governor of Lagos State for eight years was the first Governor to introduce
this obnoxious pension law prior to leaving office, despite all he had acquired
in his eight years as the unchallenged Governor of Lagos State.


It will be necessary to reproduce the full text of the law,
which gave Tinubu, free houses in Lagos and Abuja. In fact, his house on
Bourdillon Street, Ikoyi is indeed a good example.


“One would have expected that former Governor Fashola, a
more refined and educated person and a lawyer would have abrogated such a law,
but it seems he too benefited from it hook, line and sinker. Therefore, it
would be asking for too much from Governor Ambode who took over from Fashola to
abrogate the law.


“Credit should go to the present Governor, Babajide Sanwolu,
and all Nigerians must applaud him, because no one expected him to adopt the
radical position he took in abrogating the obnoxious law. He was truly selfless
and courageous taking that decision because he would have benefitted from it
too in the long run.


“The Life Pension Law gave a former Governor 100% of his
basic salary as life pension, in addition to two houses, one in Lagos and one
in Abuja. The Governor should have completed two terms in office. He is
entitled to six brand new cars every three years and domestic servants. 300% of
annual basic salary as furniture allowance, 100% of annual basic salary as
house maintenance allowance, 20% of annual basic salary as car maintenance
allowance. This includes entertainment allowance and free health care for the
former Governor and family. He is also entitled to eight policemen, two
Department of Stale Security (DSS) operatives and a personal assistant for


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