My Dear Prof. Ekeh, Mr. Ayedun and All:
I beg to disagree completely with the premise and substance of Prof. Ekeh's letter to President Obasanjo. I do not see anything that the President has done to warrant such an open letter of disagreement. While the current state of affairs in the Niger Delta is deplorable, and I must say deserve urgent attention from the new democratic government, it must be borne in mind that the problem, which has accummulated for over 40 years, cannot be solved by allowing a lawless group of individuals to create a state of anarchy in any part of Nigeria. A situation where a small group of people can abduct and murder law enforcement agents at will is unacceptable in any society irrespective of the severity of their grievances.
Since Prof. Ekeh lives in the United States, how does he think the US Government will react to a group of people, say in New York, kidnapping and murdering several FBI agents with the excuse that they, their land and their people have been subjected to inhuman abuse and marginalization for years? We all know what hapened in Waco, Texas for much less offences. No Government in its right senses will accept that situation, and Nigeria as a nation cannot allow that kind of anarchy to reign, no matter what.
Being also from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria (Edo State), I sympathise fully with the situation in Bayelsa State and other affected states. However, it is also clear to me that a problem that took so long to create cannot simply be solved by an executive president distributing money to families in the area, as suggested by Mr. Taiwo Ayedun. By its very nature, a democratic process of resolving such a problem is time consuming. Clearly, the President's first major bill to the National Assembly was a Niger Delta bill. Such a bill is meant to institutionalize processes and procedures for solving the Niger Delta problem for the long term by making it a part of the law of the land. A simple presidential fiat will only serve as a temporary window dressing which will not be to the advantage of the people affected in the long run.
Ladies and gentlemen, lets all think with our brains rather than let emotions overcome us, in reacting to sensitive situations which may destabilize our young and clearly uncertain democracy in Nigeria. A major responsibility of the President is to ensure security for all so that the will of the people can be done. For anyone to expect a magic wand that will solve a 40-year long problem in the Niger Delta, after only six months of democracy is ridiculous. The anger of all Niger Delta peoples, including myself, should be directed at the "do-nothing" National Assembly who were quite vociferous when it came to their furniture allowances. What efforts have all Senators and members of the National House of Assembly from the Niger Delta made to ensure that the Niger Delta Bill submitted by the President is placed in the front burner, and amended accordingly for the benefit of their own constituents.
Nosa O. Egiebor,PhD, PE
Professor of Chemical Engineering