I had to be away from my computer yesterday and for much of today. I am sorry I was unable to get back to you before now. I know cyberspace addicts -- I am not suggesting you are already in the same grade as my joking buddy Bolaji -- that they require immediate response. Even now that I come back to you, I will only be able to provide partial response. I promise to be full by the weekend. Also, I redirected your mail to another computer, thereby losing addresses of those to whom you copied your original letter. Please kindly forward this response to others in the group whose addresses I do not have here.
Date of Meeting: A Saturday appears to be fine. Please let me confirm from those I expect to be able to attend the Congress whether that Saturday July 24 is okay. Is there some flexibility here? Would a choice of July 31 be available?
Telephone Messages from Governor and Others: Nakpodia's fears
are well founded. We are assuming at this point that the idea has been
dropped. At any rate there has not been any advocacy on its behalf from
the Ijaw or Itsekiri group. If you listen carefully to the news from home
in the last two days, you will see the inherent danger in this strategy.
I can assure
you that there is no partisan advantage in our viewpoint here. We are probably the most neutral in this whole matter. But we know the area well. Let's not argue about the shape of table and sitting arrangements. We may be able to influence events at home if we come up with powerful ideas. Let's not endanger such prospects with premature exposure.
Agenda Items: We hope to provide you with agenda items by the middle of next week.
Leaders of Delegation: We are beginning to sound as if we are on the way to a Constitutional Conference. But it is serious. May I suggest that in addition to this Leader that we also include a Committee Member. The heavy loading will be undertaken by such a Committee.
Communiqué Items: Delaying the communiqué items to the day of the "Peace Summit" may be chaotic. Will it not be a little more serious-minded if we have a week to study the communiqués which will summarize policy positions recommended by each group? May I propose that the proposed communiqués be delivered to you a week before the Summit and then published immediately? I must add that this is only a suggestion.
Central Organization: You are completely correct that the Ijaw
and the Itsekiri have central organizations. Although you did not add this
point, Urhobos have no such organizations. That is perfectly understandable.
We have only been dragged into this matter recently, following the June
4 Okere disturbances and the immediate targeting of Urhobos in the media
followed. You can be sure that if Urhobos were involved in the sort of campaigns that the Itsekiri and Ijaw are currently waging, we too would have a central organization. But we don't. That has consequences for our participation. Even now, most Urhobos who are coming to Washington, DC, see themselves as peace-makers. They are spending their own money, and are not coming on any organization's sponsorship. Besides, you are not going to be able to have Urhobos who will reply to email messages by the hour. Those who will participate in this Summit may be able to answer their messages by the day.
Finally, kindly help me to deliver the following message. Tell the hidden Itsekiri and Ijaw organizations and individuals participating in the Summit that we all are dying to hear from them directly. I fear that they don't want to address the other side as "Dear --." Tell them we love them. When all this palaver is over we all will go back to that Delta to eat banga and starch, with our young ones marrying themselves. We may not cheer up yet. But we should at least say hello.
Thank you for your services.