This is coming just as most speakers at the conference spoke in favour of a national conference where issues of concern from various groups could be discussed. Leader of the Yoruba delegation, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Gbonigi, opened the call for a national conference when in an opening remark he said, “if it is acceptable to dialogue with Boko Haram why can’t we have a dialogue that embraces all Nigerians once and for all for all grievances to be expressed and mutual accommodation reached.”
Speaking further on the issue of Jonathan’s second term, Clark said, “if he wants to rule for eight years and Nigeria doesn’t want him because he did not perform, leave it for the people of Nigeria to decide; not one individual; not a group of people no matter where they come from. “My personal view is that this country belongs to all of us; in 1979 we all belonged to NPN; Shagari was not a better member than myself. We all gathered together at the cinema hall in Yaba where it was agreed that Shagari should be the presidential candidate. He took his second term. I also became a senator.
“But Buhari, for reasons best known to them, staged a coup and drove everybody away; who took over another northerner. Babangida said you’ve had enough and took over; Abacha took over from Babangida. MKO Abiola was driven away and not allowed to rule for even one day. “Obasanhjo came and he ruled for eight years; Yar’Adua was going to rule for eight years; why would Jonathan not be allowed to rule for eight years.
“They have no right; the constitution is very clear on two term of four years each for a president; all what he did before was that the president died and he stepped in and that cannot be counted as though he has contested election. “We are meeting because we believed that putting everything together in the South we have not performed very well due to our disunity. When the 19 northern states are meeting, we the 17 in the South will not be meeting. When the 19 governors in the North are meeting our 17 governors will never meet. It’s never too late; let’s also meet.”
In his remark, former vice president and Chairman of the conference, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, said his involvement at this time in the convening of a Southern Nigeria Peoples Assembly would make it the second time he was involved in promoting a pan-Southern Nigeria organisation. He recalled that during the National Constitutional Conference, which held during the Abacha regime, he was forced to organise a Southern Delegates Caucus to devise a strategy that would prevent continuation of the status quo, “that is, continuing retention of political power by Northern Nigeria elements on return to civilian rule.”
He recalled that it was that coming together of the Southern delegates that yielded the fruit of power rotation, which made it possible for Obasanjo to become the presidential candidate of the PDP in 1999. In his remark, Chairman of the Sout5hn East Governors Forum Governor Peter Obi said it was time for Nigerian elders to speak out and defend the image of Nigeria; “we have no other country; help us to build a better country by standing firm on issues that are right.
“I agree the South should come together and work for a united Nigeria; we are one and will remain together. In your deliberations put our country Nigeria in the forefront. We need to fix the engine of the country Nigeria. Jonathan is a good man and has good intentions but the system, the institution is faulty and the ones celebrated are the wrong ones.”
Those at the Enugu meeting which was well attended were Edwin Clarke, Dr, Alex Ekwueme, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Gani Adams, Tony Graham Douglas, Dr. Sam Egwu, Ambassador Frank Ogbuewu, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Governor Gbenga Daniel, Mike Okiro, Sylvanus Ngene. Others were James Sekibo, Anthony Oguguo, Walter Ofonagoro, Senator Adolf Wabara, Mike Okiro, Ebitu Ukiwe, and Chief Olu Falae among several others.