Renowned elder statesman and South-South Leader, Pa Edwin Clark, has taken a critical stance against many state governors, accusing them of exploiting their positions to amass wealth rapidly, surpassing the economic strength of their respective states. Clark has also pointed fingers at these governors for spending security votes without transparency and accountability.
Pa Edwin Clark expressed these views in his comprehensive autobiography titled “Brutally Frank,” which spans 688 pages and was recently launched in Abuja. The book delves into Clark’s experiences as a classroom teacher, commissioner, Minister, Senator, and Nationalist over a span of more than 70 years.
In Chapter 23, titled “Kleptocracy in our society,” pages 539 to 542, Clark specifically directs his criticism toward some governors who have leveraged their gubernatorial positions to amass significant wealth in a short span of time. He asserts that these governors were previously not of notable financial standing but have become remarkably affluent and influential due to their election as governors.
The elder statesman does not mince words as he questions the actions of President Bola Tinubu and Senate President Godswill Akpabio, both of whom introduced laws during their governorships that have stirred controversy. Tinubu introduced the Ex-Governors’ Life Pension Law, while Akpabio put forth the Former Governor and Deputy Governor’s Pension Bill 2014.
Clark writes: “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.”
He highlights instances of alleged corruption involving governors, where inflated contracts are awarded, and a significant portion of the project funds is siphoned by the governor while the state only receives a fraction. This, according to Clark, is “illicit and criminal.”
The veteran leader also draws attention to the unchecked expenditure of security votes by governors, emphasizing that the amounts are undisclosed and unmonitored. He calls for an assessment of the security vote allocations to governors and government officials, suggesting that the economic realities of the country should be reflected in these allocations.
Clark contends that a novel form of corruption has emerged, involving the enactment of laws by state governors to secure life pensions for themselves. He strongly criticizes this practice and deems it irresponsible. Two specific examples he highlights are the Life Pension Law by Bola Ahmed Tinubu during his tenure as Lagos State Governor and the Former Governor and Deputy Governor’s Pension Bill 2014 by Godswill Obot Akpabio, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State.
As corruption continues to afflict Nigeria’s governance, Edwin Clark’s forthright narrative calls for increased accountability, transparency, and responsible leadership to combat the deep-rooted issues plaguing the nation.