Pa Edwin Clark [image above], unarguably the most notorious 88 year old Nigerian alive, had a belated epiphany. And he shared it for what it was worth. He has only recently discovered that his fallen godson, former President Goodluck Jonathan, was the figurehead of robust kleptocracy!
Clark found his voice when a group, Think Nigeria First, visited him in his Abuja home. The visit was a pointer to the paucity of what was once abundant. Just before the last presidential elections, his house was the magnet for solidarity associations and politicians seeking access to Jonathan. NTA, Radio Nigeria and many private media houses stationed their reporters in Clark’s residence. But in the aftermath of the defeat of Jonathan, the guests’ surge has stanched.
Clark was gratified to know that some people still found him courtesy-visit-worthy. And so he tried to entertain them. He started off by attempting a denunciation of the character of Jonathan. But being too set in his ways, the wizened sycophant failed to produce an unalloyed censure. He could not but temper his slur with a compliment.
He said, ‘’ Jonathan lacked the political will to fight corruption. He’s a gentleman. Drivers of yesterday are living in palatial buildings now under his government.
‘’In advanced countries, when you are living above your means, people query you. That is not so in Nigeria. Former governors, lawmakers are now asking for immunity.’’
As Clark understands it, Jonathan’s adamant refusal to interrupt the bandits who were looting Nigeria’s coffers under his watch recommends Jonathan as ‘’a gentleman’’.
Clark actually insinuates that it is not Jonathan’s fault that thievery flourished while Jonathan ruled. Clark proposes that the looters raged with abandon because Jonathan was not outfitted with a ‘’political will to fight corruption’’. It must be some congenital deficiency. The Creator had erred: He lavished luck on fetal Goodluck but neglected to equip the young boy with a ‘’follow-come’’ firmness he would ordinarily need to order the presidency.
Clark then announced his estrangement from PDP. ‘’I no longer belong to the PDP. I won’t go to the APC either, but I will continue to talk as an elder statesman and leader of this country. I am not a member of the PDP anymore.’’
What Clark had meant to say was that his membership of the PDP had become untenable. He could not remain in PDP because he was too old to adapt himself to learning the alien habit of playing opposition. But in trying to frame that intention elaborately, he proved that a sycophant could gift himself a helping of self-love: he flattered himself that he was ‘’an elder statesman and leader of this country’’!
The obvious truth is that Clark is an old man. But he is not within a hailing distance of the esteem accruable to an elder statesman. He has not earned the status. And he is wrong to presume that one automatically attains elder statesmanship by inching close to a century of birthdays.
Clark says he will ‘’continue to talk as an elder statesman and leader of this country’’. Continue? He must be kidding. He has never been an elder statesman: and he has never shown aptitude for speaking like one.
To be sure, Clark did some good in the better part of his active days. He was Commissioner for Education of Mid-Western Region, 1968-1971; Commissioner for Finance and Establishment, Bendel State, 1972-1975; Federal Commissioner for Information, 1975; and Senator, 1979-83. But these years of public service seemed to have sapped him of the capacity to benefit society.
Wine gets better with age but not Clark. He has soured with time. He faces the prospect of closing the epilogue of his life as a nagging public irritant and a fount of incendiary statements.
As soon as Goodluck Jonathan became Vice President, the self-appointed ‘’Ijaw leader’’ appropriated him. Clark routinely referenced Jonathan as Clark’s own pupil. After Jonathan became President, Clark waxed more condescending: he would casually depict Jonathan as his baby.
In the run up to the 2015 general elections, Clark led the band of ex-Niger Delta militants who threatened Armageddon if Jonathan was rejected at the polls. He issued a rash of hawkish quotes along with Asari Dokubo. Clark left nothing unsaid that would have made it possible for anyone to retain an iota of respect for him.
As a matter of fact, Jonathan, the butt of Clark’s denigration, had made an apt statement about delinquent oldies who parade themselves as elder statesmen. Jonathan said that majority of the old folks who covet deference command nothing more than the nuisance value of ‘’motor park touts’’.
At the time Jonathan directed that broadside at other gray hairs, Clark was his most ardent fawning fan. They had a mutual relationship that served each other well. Yet, Jonathan could have been talking about Clark.
Clark was hysterical, tempestuous and belligerent. He was the older version of an average motor park tout. He only differed from his kindred spirits in Warri Motor Park in bodily agility.
It is ludicrous to hear Clark talk about how he would ‘’continue to talk as an elder statesman and leader of this country’’.
He has not been a valuable interlocutor lately. His previous talks have not imparted wisdom, direction or focus to national conversation. His elocution fouls the atmosphere rather than enrich it. Which is he why needs to…shut up!
Clark needs to unlearn talkativeness. He needs to devote himself to quietude and contemplation. That would be an approximately fitting atonement for being the most restless apologist for Jonathan’s regime of plunder.
If he bridles his tongue, and refrains from injecting himself into our attempt to convalesce from Plague Jonathan, the passage of time may substantially erode his contribution to the impoverishment of Nigeria from our collective memory.
Clark needs to be forgotten! But he is a compulsive talker. He must talk. He insists on venting even though he has neither credibility nor a receptive audience. And this inevitably brings him an avalanche of ridicule.
If he can’t practice silence, his children and grandchildren should buy him a gag. They are not supposed to let their daddy and granddaddy continue to embarrassment in the public square. Because each time Clark speaks, he compels disrespect to his age.
While supposedly railing against Jonathan for presiding over a robbery festival, Clark confirmed he had wanted the nightmare to last… four more years.
Clark said, ‘’ some of us were worried when Jonathan conceded defeat. We were worried. If a man who contested election conceded defeat, who are you to say no?’’
This is a giveaway. It reveals the real reason why Clark is mad at Jonathan. It is not because Clark has suddenly become retroactively averse to stealing. Clark is angry that Jonathan acknowledged defeat.
Clark’s clout has vanished because of Jonathan’s defeat.
Clark is heady with counterfactual imaginings. Wouldn’t he still be Godfather Number One had Jonathan not conceded defeat? If Jonathan had not swiftly made the concession call to Buhari, wouldn’t he (Clark) have gotten a word in edgewise and bent the arc of history?
Clark betrayed a smoldering grudge. Jonathan did not consult him before quitting. Clark regrets that he didn’t get a chance to rebuke the fidgeting loser and prevail on him to resist the electoral outcome.
The would-be elder statesman was eager to instigate anarchy in Africa’s most populous country!
Everybody can see through Clark’s belated honesty. His sincerity has no nobility. It came with no apology for his part in propping up the administration. It rather came with the elucidation of his support for its continuity.
Clark was aware all along that low cadre officials in Jonathan’s administration were stealing so much they were erecting palaces of gold. Yet, Clark didn’t voice an alarm or a whimper. He campaigned for the elongation of the season of rape.
His Jonathan badmouthing is fake and opportunistic. If Jonathan was re-elected, Clark would have been serenading Jonathan –as usual –while Diezani Allison-Madueke and other kleptomaniacs sustain their rampage.
Nobody is impressed by Clark’s newfound earnestness. He is not just waking up to the evisceration of Nigeria’s treasury under Jonathan. Clark was camped too close the theatre of the riotous sack to be oblivious of the happenings. He was the anti-elder who watched while the tethered goat suffered parturition.
Clark has switched his support to President Buhari. Clark now preaches that we do not ‘’distract Buhari from fighting corruption. People should stop talking about sectional or selective justice’’. Clark has apparently swapped lover and enemy. He now loves former enemy Buhari dispassionately and hates former lover Jonathan passionately.
The change of Sycophant Clark is a lesson to current political office holders. It establishes that typical sycophants are never loyal. They praise you while your incumbency can advantage them. They help distort your perception of the real world and rid you of any desire to lay a positive legacy. When you become powerless and ordinary, they disown you and join the review of your failed leadership.
Emmanuel Uchenna Ugwu \ @emmaugwutheman \ emmaugwu.com