Dear Delegates to the Peace Congress in Washington DC (And A Few Other Interested Parties):
You will all notice that so far we have not released the report of the Peace Congress held on July 24, 1999 as promised. This is not unrelated to the fact that since that meeting, we have noticed that certain documents germane to the issues discussed in Washington have been circulating. While certain old positions have been re-stated therein, we notice a sense that there is some readiness to re-convene the "indefinitely adjourned" meeting, again with ourselves as conveners. In fact, Igho Natufe of the Urhobo Delegation has gone further to suggest a date - October 16, 1999 - for such a conference, again in Washington DC.
Furthermore, since our meeting in DC, we have also witnessed moves to let peace reign back in Warri itself. We have all read the news of some of the peace initiatives. One initiative that particularly touched us was the one in which it was reported that a meeting of the three ethnic groups was convened in a church in Warri, just on the same day as ours here. At the end of that meeting, each of the leaders of the three groups made statements renouncing further confrontation and embracing peace throughout Warri. This in a city that was just coming out of the throes of virtual war as depicted by various news coming out of the region.
We would have wished that our meeting would similarly have agreed to sue for peace in the region. We believe that it was one missed opportunity in that regard.
In any case, we thank Igho and the Urhobo delegation for the confidence
reposed in us, and again thank other delegates who have been appreciative
of our efforts so far. We hope to continue to do our utmost best to bring
about peace in our land back home. We are convinced that with people such
as yourselves, we would eventually find common ground and peace in our
Despite our offer to make ourselves available again, however, it is
important to note that there will be no point re-convening if we would
simply pick up on the arguments where we left them. You will recall that
there were several items left completely un-addressed in DC. Now that additional
documents are being circulated, and there is more time to to dig for more
relevant documents, it would be our preference if the most contentious
arguments are made offline among all delegations, so that we can discuss
the consensus issues at the Conference. We do not see
ourselves a judges in a court, rather facilitators of dialogue.
In fact, we are most concerned that all of you delegates, being abroad,
should seek some higher ground rather than re-stating the inflexibilities
extant on the ground in Warri itself. This admonition applies to ALL delegations
without exception. That way we could have frank yet more friendly discussions
of issues, and we can be of greater benefit to the leadership in Warri
who may not have the benefit of distance from the bitter environment on
the ground. It is important that statements from delegates abroad should
soften rather than stiffen resistance to
compromise at home.
In this regard, let us quote a long excerpt by one Mr. Frank Guobadia, who would have been a facilitator at our earlier conference. This was in reaction to an earlier CIAA Press Release on the Warri Crisis:
Date: Sun, 1 Aug 1999 20:08:33 EDT
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,, etc.
Subject: Re: CIAA PRESS RELEASE
This is quite interesting. However, I am becoming increasingly worried about these claims and counterclaims of ethnic ownership/control of land in Warri and other parts of Delta. Unless we are in the processing of going back to the days of kingdoms/empires, it appears to me that none of these is relevant to the future of Nigeria.
I think I am dead wrong! The future of Nigeria is becoming very uncertain, taking into account the situation in Delta and the recent clash between the Hausas and Yorubas. I like to hope/pray for a better united Nigeria, but I am afraid there may not be that much of a future for us.
The funny thing about the Delta's situation is that the more you try to understand it, the less you realize that there are no quick-fix solutions to the problem. I believe Obasanjo has noted that too. He is probably caught a spider-web by now. Actually, the feuding folks (Ijaws, Urhobos, and Itsekiris) are not making it easier for the rest of us to even lend our helping hands. It is too many stories, versions, and complications over land, and not enough emphasis on those things that make us one people.
Thank you, sir!
The views expressed therein obviously cannot be our sentiments exactly - but they come close to them.
Anyway, we hope that the Ezon and Itsekiri delegations would magnanimously pick up the challenge to come for a meeting on October 16, 1999 as has been proposed by Igho Natufe on behalf of the Urhobo delegation. Just let all know.
Finally, a draft of the report. At present, it goes as follows, with
a HOPE (as "Late Development") expressed in its conclusion:
A REPORT OF THE WARRI PEACE CONFERENCE, JULY 24, 1999, AT HOWARD
UNIVERSITY, WASHINGTON DC.
Please note that this is a report of the Conference written by the Conveners
of the Conference, and not a Communique jointly agreed by the Delegates
to the Conference.
Body of the Report
Delegates of the Ijaw, Itsekiri, and Urhobo delegations of North America
and Canada met at Howard University Washington DC from 8:30 am to about
7:00 pm. The agenda was as set
out in Appendix 1. The welcoming and keynote speeches, and the speeches outlining the various positions of the various groups are attached in the Appendix II.
After very frank discussions and irreconcilable differences centered on (i) the admissibility of discussions of the title of the Olu of Warri and status of Warri as immediate or remote causes of the Warri conflict, and (ii) whether the communique should only reflect consensus issues (particularly if perchance one of the delegates refused to enter into certain discussions untenable to them), all the delegates unanimously agreed to adjourn indefinitely without a communique at this time. A related (but non-determinitive) issue was also the need for more time by the other delegates to respond to the detailed written Itsekiri submission on the vexing issue of (i) above. All germane submissions (including latest ones by the Izon and Urhobo groups) have now been collected in Appendix III.
Despite the above report, the conveners expressed their willingness
to make themselves available if and when the parties agree to meet again
under more auspicious circumstances.
Respectfully Submitted by:
|Dr. Phillip A. Ikomi
Convener and Chairman of Conference
Dr. Phillip A. Ikomi
Co-Convener & Rapporteur
PS: Late development: The parties have now agreed to meet again
at Howard University on October 16, 1999.
Please let us know ASAP whether that is an acceptable report, no later than Tuesday midnight. Otherwise, above report will be released on Wednesday, August 4, 1999, or latest Thursday Morning. Please be cogent about your reasons to add or delete a word, phrase or sentence. Remember that this is not your Communique but our report, but even then we would still like to get a gauge of your sentiments and be sensitive to your sensibilities: you may yet be our guests again!
Please note that Philip is away on vacation until August 9, and Bolaji will be away from August 6 to 12.
Philip A. Ikomi and Mobolaji E. Aluko