I see that the "Peace Summit" train is roaring on. I do have several matters that I want to discuss with you on its prospects.
First, I see that you now have quite a few people to whom you copy your correspondence. I assume that these are those who have indicated interest in participating. In looking at the list, I am surprised at its lopsided representation. Apart from the two of you who, though Itsekiri, are acting as organizers, there is only one other Itsekiri on the list. There is also only one Ijaw. Then there are six Urhobo on that list. You do not seem worried by such representation, however. I am confident that you have some information that you want to share with us. Could you enlighten us a little more on the Ijaw and Itsekiri response to the idea of the Congress? How many individual Itsekiri and Ijaw have accepted your invitation? How many Itsekiri and Ijaw organizations have accepted your invitation?
Second, my understanding is that there are two categories of representation at the Congress. You seem to encourage organizations of the three groups as well as individuals. May I suggest that apart from inviting individuals, as you have done, you also make it explicit that organizations of the three groups you are concerned with will be expected to send delegations. In his correspondence to you, Andrew Edevbie made it clear that he was working on behalf Urhobo National Forum. Francis has indicated that he will consult with Ijaw organizations before submitting agenda items. Would it not be in the interest of the credibility of the Congress if these organizations come forth rather than advise at the background? . Having these organizations' representatives participate directly helps to deflect any suggestion that those attending do not represent their people's views. We recommend that representations from the three organizations be restricted to a maximum of three per organization. Only one person from each organization should be empowered to vote (if necessary) on any of the issues on the communiqué. Individuals attending on their own should have no voting rights. Hopefully, though, conclusions reached will be on the basis of a consensus.
Whether non-Delta organizations should attend the sessions of the Congress, and in what capacity, is an issue that a small Committee should help you with. It is a complicated matter, as your reply to Frank Guobadia already indicates. I am sure other organizations will have their viewpoints on this matter. It is probably wise to consult the Ijaws on this matter. I understand Urhobo organizations have their definite views. However, I do not want to prejudge the matter.
ISSUES ON THE CONGRESS
Three major issues on arrangements towards the Congress have now been raised by two of you and others. They require close scrutiny. There are as follows: (1) Telephone messages from the Delta State Governor and spokespersons for the Itsekiri, Ijaw, and Urhobo; (2) agenda items for the congress; and (3) a proposed communique from each of the three groups.
Telephone Messages. We urge that this idea be dropped. There are two main reasons for this position. First, it may smack of a publicity hunt. The Governor and representatives of the groups are busy at home on this matter. We do not want this Congress to become the central focus of attention. If we come up with valuable suggestions, they will be well recognized when they are passed on to the Governor, the Assembly, and others concerned. Second, there is a real risk that one or more of the spokespersons may say some unkind things about another group that may poison the atmosphere of the conference. We do not see any big advantages of this strategy that will induce us into the risk that looms over it.
Agenda Items for the Congress. We propose as follows: Each of the three groups should submit its suggested agenda items. All the groups should submit on the same day. Otherwise we will have the awkward position of having some groups reacting to the others' positions, rather than creating their own, at the onset. A committee of five, including two of you and one each from the various groups, should then reconcile these agenda items. This can be done by way of telephone conferencing and by email communications.
Proposed Communique from Each of the Three Groups. This idea
is very good. Each of the groups should submit such a suggested communique
on the same day, as in the case of the agenda items. Reconciling them before
the Congress may be unnecessary. However, if it appears that there is need
for some work on differences among the proposed communiques, then the same
committee suggested above should handle it. The final communique, patterned
from the suggested communiques and deliberations at the Congress, should
be worked out by the Committee already identified above. If it becomes
necessary to vote on it, a representative each from the three groups, do
I thank you for your precious work.