Letter To President Obasanjo


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Letter To President Obasanjo On Anambra




Arthur Nzeribe



December 24, 2004


Your Excellency,

May I seize this opportunity to wish the president a merry Christmas and a happy new year. I write, however, mostly in an attempt to contribute to the national discourse on a matter that affects all Nigerians in general and the Igbo in particular. I am referring to the Anambra crisis, which has been in the front burner of our national polity.

In making my contribution, I will endeavour not to manifest my bias no matter how justified or correct I think they are. You know I have a position on the Anambra matter; which I hold to firmly, more firmly as the crisis develops and the situation deteriorates daily. May I at this juncture state that I agree with every line in your letter to Chief Audu Ogbeh, in response to his.
Contrary to the views held in several quarters, I cannot see the rationale behind the attempt to ridicule the contents of your letter. Having read your letter with all the attention I could afford, my honest view is that Nigerians should rather show appreciation for you frankness in responding to the issues raised by the national chairman the way you did. In my view, it takes only a leader with courage and honesty of purpose to admit the much you know about the Anambra crisis, publicly. As far as I am concerned, those who have been making a fuss out of your letter are not themselves honest, because I believe they are assessing its contents with a mind set. This certainly does not help matters.

An unbiased reading of your letter would certainly reveal that the no-holds-bar approach your employed – which is, of course, characteristic of your style – for the first time brought to the public knowledge things hitherto never known by Nigerians, generally, since the crisis erupted about eighteen months ago. Personally, I felt relieved with certain revelations you made in your letter because they make me a more informed commentator or even mere on-looker on the Anambra matter. In my view, the major significance of your letter to Chief Ogbeh is that it demonstrates, once more, that the Anambra crisis is of concern to you, contrary to the belief in some quarters. Therefore, I believe that we should do everything to encourage Your Excellency to internalize the problem in all its ramifications; in order words to see it as a problem that does not only exist but for which a solution must be found without further delay, albeit politically.

Let me, however, hasten to add that I do not believe that the Anambra crisis poses any threat, of whatever nature, to your administration or to the present democratic setting. If there are those who try to paint such a scenario, I believe it is out of sheer exasperation of the curious nature the crisis is taking even under a democratic setting where parties to political disputes of this nature have a good opportunity for dialogue. Nigerians marvel at the fact that a matter which was initially viewed as a “family affair”, is snowballing into a full-blown war. Clearly, it is obvious that such initial responses were out of a gross under estimation of the problem. From the content of your letter, it is possible that those whose duty it was to intimate you with the facts of the matter fed  you with conclusions that were either hastily arrived at or based on sheer ignorance or mischief. It must have been under such faulty premises that you went ahead to give nod to the previous attempts at resolving the crisis.

First, there was the Adolphus Wabara /Achike Udenwa-led peace committee that came up with the Owerri accord.  Your Excellency, that effort yielded nothing.  I was a participant. The peace agreement was never respected and things merely worsened as the entire nation witnessed recently. Perhaps, more intriguing is the Sam Egwu committee, which you inaugurated after the last mayhem in the state. As things stand, the committee has not succeeded yet.

Your Excellency, the thrust of my contribution is to plead with you to discard the idea of sending emissaries to the warring factions in Anambra. That approach has failed. What I am saying, in other words, Your Excellency, is that you have to do the legwork yourself since you are desirous of seeing an end to the crisis. As I noted above, I do not believe that the crisis is capable of hurting your administration, but the crisis is hurting a lot of people who believe that you are the only one capable of bringing an end to it. And I stand on their side, since they are in the majority. Your Excellency, don’t you rather feel flattered that there exists one problem, which every body in Nigeria and  even beyond believes that only you have an answer to. For the avoidance of doubt, I have a similar belief.  Your Excellency, ask your handlers to bring you media update of the last twelve months on he Anambra matter.  You will see an avalanche of angry commentaries on the crisis, all tending to portray you as either a collaborator or a conniver. This is in spite of the fact that there are no evidences yet linking you to the crisis.

As far as I am concerned, the only reason there are such interpretations, that is why you are so accused, even without any substance, is that Nigerians believe that you could stop the crisis with a snap of your fingers, even where constitutionally, it might not be as simple as that. But once they watch as the situation deteriorates daily, they have no other alternative  but to conclude that their president, whom they believe has the powers to stop the problem, is up to something or has a vested interest
Your Excellency, I did not take more than a cursory look at Chief Ogbeh’s letter when I saw it in the newspapers; the reason being that I saw nothing new in it. The proprietary or otherwise of the letter is not my concern here but I believe that the thrust of it had been touched on before by several other Nigerians even in a more vehement, if not vitriolic manner.
Your Excellency, I appeal to you to limit your anger on Ogbeh since, inspite of being the chief executive of the ruling party, he acted human to believe, like the majority of Nigerians, that you hold the ace card to the Anambra crisis. I, myself, am also of that view. As I said earlier, I believe in the contents of your letter which revealed certain things Anambra people, themselves, must have been shocked to hear. The letter exposed both parties. But having got that far, I think what to do, Your Excellency, is to go ahead and bring an end to the crisis. That is what Nigerians, especially Anambrarians, are looking forward to. And that is what you should do. Mr. President, wave the ‘magic wand’.

Let me at this juncture state that I do not support the idea that Mr. President has done nothing, at all, on the Anambra crisis. As I noted earlier, you gave nod to the Wabara committee and more recently constituted the Egwu committee I was touched the day I read in the news that you personally presided over a security meeting you summoned following the three-day mayhem unleashed on t he state, allegedly by one of the factions to the dispute. It is also on record that following that incident; you ordered the restoration of “limited” security to Governor Chris Ngige. This, you did despite the fact that there was a subsisting court order barring the Inspector-General of Police from according Governor Ngige such paraphernalia of office. And when the order was lifted recently, the Inspector-General wasted no time in restoring in full the Governor’s security details. Right now, reports have it that of all the State Governors, Dr. Ngige probably has the highest number of policemen officially attached to him. There is a saying in Igbo that when you praise a man for one accomplishment, he would be encouraged to do more. If Mr. President could do all that, I strongly believe he could do much more, by waving the magic wand.

Before now, the matter looked as if it was something sacrosanct. But your letter punctured all that. You have demystified the matter by having the courage to publicly say that both parties do not have their hands clean, as per your metaphor of two criminals sharing their loot. I believe that makes the search for a solution easier. Any such solution must be moral and political. It must also be in the context of what the majority of the people of Anambra State in particular want and need-- peace. Happily, you have said over and over again that the problem requires a political and moral solution. This in effect means that something or someone has to give. A political and moral solution is beyond the reach of legal manipulations, time wasting exercise or corruption. It is a solution that is within your ambit and constitutional powers. It is prompt and less painful on the long run. It will bring everlasting peace, fast and embody justice above all. It will be in tandem with the major pegs on your epistle to Chief Audu Ogbeh. Mr. President, in the name of God, act now

Your Excellency, I need not bore you with rhetorics. I believe the ball is in your court. You know what to do. Stop hesitating. To my mind, there must be peace in Anambra at all cost, no matter whose ox is gored. My fear is that if not decisively brought to an end now, politicians in the state will employ the crisis as the basis of their politicking towards 2007; in which case it may never really end till the end of this dispensation of which you are the Chief Superintendent. Sir, I believe you would loath to have a portion of your hand over notes in May 2007, refer to “this intractable crisis in Anambra that has defied solution”. Indeed, my wish for the President and the rest of the over one hundred and thirty million Nigerians whom he leads is that the crisis should not see the new year. And it is not impossible.

As you heed this advice to begin to take urgent and deliberate steps towards resolving the Anambra crisis once and for all, I wish Your Excellency the best.
•Nzeribe is a Senator of the Federal Republic


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