Memo To My Colleagues


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Memo To My Colleagues:

A Case For A State Of Emergency In Anambra State




Arthur Nzeribe



December 31, 2004



The Senate will debate the Anambra crisis on January 11th 2005, on return from recess being the “next” legislative day pursuant to Senate Standing Rule Order 42 brought by Senator G. Gandi, on the last legislative day.

But before the issue is put and the battle is joined, I wish to make a case for a State of Emergency in Anambra State. This exercise will enable you to dispassionately look into the matter in solemn environment without any external distraction.
It is my submission that a State of Emergency be declared in Anambra State as the only way forward or out, from this intractable crisis, which has defied solutions. It is inevitable, imperative and incontrovertible. Events in the past few weeks have thrown up a new “moral” dimension to the matter. We are boxed into a tight corner where the ruling party has confessed to and or accepted that the election was not won, but “stolen”. The President recently confirmed his own personal knowledge of such confessions.
The moral burden and responsibility are not only invested in the leadership of the party but also of the country vis-a-viz, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It supercedes all other considerations known to human in this matter. For the President, the leadership of the ruling party,and the nation as a whole to discharge and acquit themselves from the moral responsibility arising from the Anambra saga the thing to do is for the President to declare a State of Emergency in that State forthwith. It is the only way to demonstrate transparency beyond all reasonable doubt.

This is the moment to drop heads in very serious somber considerations. It is not a moment to beat chest in an “I told you so” mood. To do that will attempt to trivialize the issue. My distinguished colleagues, you will recall that nearly a year ago, at the initial stage of the crisis, I put a case forward, for consideration for a State of Emergency. The idea was promptly nipped in the bud without any consideration as it was aborted. Had we acted then, the carnage and destruction we lately experienced would not have occurred. Anambra crisis would have been solved and forgotten, as is the case in Plateau State. It has been proved and established that a State of Emergency is an instrument of peace. It worked in Plateau; it will work in Anambra State.

In Anambra, we have a situation where none of the combatants will reason or listen. They proved that compromise would not be accepted by the parties. Thus the case is to “clear” the deck and start a new, giving Anambra people a chance to pull back a little and reflect in a manner to solve their problems. At least, as the State of Emergency lasts, the Election Tribunal will continue its work with speed and alacrity. None of the parties will continue to manipulate court process fraudulently as a tactic to buy time. We know in this chamber that either of the parties can continue to render the tribunal’s work redundant. But with the deck cleared, the reverse will be the case. All the parties to the dispute will hasten to see speed in order to come to a conclusion. It will introduce a change of gear in the Tribunal’s business.

A State of Emergency will provide the basis for a moral and political solution. This matter does not earn a criminal solution. The advantages of a moral and political solution are so obvious and numerous that it does not require enumeration. The crisis is tearing the ruling party to shreds. A State of Emergency will arrest the decay and dispute in leadership of the PDP. It will propel the combatants to reason after due reflections.  Consequently, I urge you, let us not lose this opportunity. The challenge before us, as the 109 “Wise Men” of Nigeria is, - “If Not by State of Emergency”, which way is the solution to be found?
I wish to share confidence with my colleagues. For those of us near and familiar with Anambra politics and terrain, intelligence shows that both sides are now busy regrouping and getting ready for another round of destruction. Simply put your ears to the ground and you will hear the drums of war rumbling. The people of Anambra State will tell you that what is on ground now is not acceptable to them. They will tell you the deck should be cleared. They will tell you that they are tired of the bickerings arising from the dispute in all its ramifications, shape or form. They will tell you that they want to start afresh.  May I at this juncture refer you to the metaphor about two armed robbers trying to share their loot as employed by the President in his letter to Chief Ogbeh. In such circumstance, the just action to take is to deprive both of the proceeds of the crime.

By the way, I am within a walking distance to Ihiala in Anambra State. We are neighbours, and my political exposure spans the entire Eastern Region and the South-East. I have knowledge of the terrain, enough to understand the under current.
I am aware that the question has arisen in some quarters as to whether a State of Emergency in Anambra would not amount to giving victory to one of the parties. My attitude to this, however, is that we should be able to discern what really constitutes the interest of the generality of the people of Anambra State. What we should be concerned with is victory for the generality of Anambrarians, the common man in the streets of Awka, Onitsha, Ihiala, Nnewi etc. whom peace has eluded for the past eighteen months or so. This distinguished Senate should not blind itself with sympathies for any one of the parties. Its focal point should be what is good for the helpless people of the state. As far as I know, it is peace. And to achieve it, we must eschew sentiments.
It has also been said in some quarters that the situation in Anambra is not the same with what it was in Plateau that necessitated the imposition of a State of Emergency in the latter. In my view, this type of reasoning is too ordinary for us as leaders to be part of it. As leaders, we should show more rigor in our assessment of any given situation. Contrary to that argument, I can state without any fear of contradiction that the situation in Anambra poses far more danger than what we had in Plateau. Agreed, the crisis in Plateau was more widespread. But it was largely unorganized and spontaneous. Hence, the security agencies were able to infiltrate and cow the perpetrators into submission with ease. But in the case of Anambra, we are faced with a situation where the two parties have the wherewithal to avail themselves of water-tight organization. One of the parties is headed by a sitting governor who has enormous resources at his disposal. The other is headed by unknown persons reputed to be stupendously wealthy and highly connected, both at home and abroad.

Distinguished colleagues, we all witnessed the sophistication with which the parties unleashed mayhem on the state lately; in a commando-like manner that completely overwhelmed the security agencies. Yes, there has been this insinuation that the security agencies connived with one of the factions. But nobody has proved it. As far as I am concerned, the security agencies were simply overwhelmed by the bravado of the perpetrators who showed that their actions were well articulated, rehearsed and tamper-proof.

Distinguished colleagues, if the other party was taken unawares the other time, should we, by any stretch of imagination, expect that it would allow itself to be beaten to it a second time? Does it not follow logically that it would by now be organizing itself either to go on the offensive or at least in self defence. This places before us a scenario whereby we have two highly organized and sophisticated parties ready to slug it out at the slightest provocation. Do we need anybody to tell us that the slightest move by any of the parties next time will spark off a full blown war in that part of the country? Distinguished Senators, the 109 of us will not sit in this chambers once an armed insurrection, of the dimension I can clearly see in Anambra, erupts. By that time, it will be too late.
To summarize, I am saying that if there is a fire next time in Anambra, what happened in Plateau will become a child’s play. In other words, I am submitting that if a State of Emergency was necessary for Plateau, the situation in Anambra makes it even more imperative. Unlike in Plateau where the combat was largely uncoordinated, the crisis in Anambra is deliberate, slow and systematic. In Plateau we probably were not warned sufficiently. In Anambra we have been warned over and over again. In any case, is it not said that once beaten twice shy.

We should not encourage and condone one robber out of two, appropriating the fruits of the robbery. Both should be deprived, that is Justice; moral and political. In the same vein, Nigeria is not ready for more revelations that tarnishes our image externally. We do not know how far this will go. It is better halted now by the introduction of State of Emergency.
We know what the State of Emergency will bring, the consequences, positive and negative. It is not a journey into the unknown. The advantages override the disadvantages. You may say, the devil you know you can contain. But, we do not know what the future holds without the State of Emergency.

The consequences of a journey in the dark cannot be controlled. A repeat of the mistake 10 months ago when we backed-off or back pedaled from a State of Emergency should be avoided. Look at what the result has been. What has happened since then? We could not have anticipated or contemplated the consequences at that time. If we do not take advantage to act now, the consequences will be out of this world. Let us resolve to persuade the President to declare a State of Emergency, Now in Anambra State.


• Senator Nzeribe wrote from Abuja.



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