The government of Anambra State has finally decided to react to the invasion of Anambra State by armed fighters from Odeke in Kogi State after costly moments of dithering when the victim communities in Anambra State had issued a one-week double ultimatum to the State and Federal governments that they would rise and defend themselves upon the expiration of the time frame.
The clay-footed response of Awka seat of power to the declaration of insurgence on Anambra State which drastically affected the new 50,000 barrels per diem production was noticeable, even to the uninformed.
We are however grateful that finally a discussion has been initiated at all. The propriety and impact of the discussion is a different matter altogether.
We deprecate the fact that Gov. Peter Obi sees nothing wrong in going to Kogi State Liaison Office in Abuja all alone to initiate a one-on-one discussion with Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State, shortly after the latter aggressed his State.
We think that a full panel of Anambra State –not just the governor- ought to have engaged a counter-part panel from Kogi State in a neutral ground. We hate to think that the governor simply walked into the liaison office in Abuja because it is convenient for him in what has become his new base of operation-Abuja.
Secondly, it does not sit well with us, and certainly an overwhelming majority of discerning Anambra Citizens that this one-on-one discussion appears to sacrifice the hard facts of the grave insurgence to sublime platitudes, all to the detriment of Anambra State.
The essence of having governments is to serve our collective purpose. Analu ofu onye Olu azu, obulu olu nine (Snatch a fish from Anambra riverine man and you have taken it from all).But with the attitude of Anambra State Government on this matter it would seem that analu ofu onye olu azu obulu ofu onye olu.(Snatch a fish from an Anambra Riverine man and you have taken it from that man only) This is shameful because precious lives and properties in Anambra were lost in the border skirmish occasioned by Kogi State.
The two governors, one a soldier and the other a civilian, were said to have jointly issued a communiqué, after their chat in which they were said to have ‘agreed’ that no life was lost. They further ‘agreed that only four motorcycles were burnt.’ This is an insurgence in which two out of Anambra’s 177 communities were completely overrun, for which troops have eventually been deployed after the reported loss of over 50 Anambra lives and displacement of thousands of persons.
They also claimed that oil production was not affected, even when the managing Director of Orient Petroleum ,who being on ground should know better, had informed the world how his company safe-guarded their staff by beefing up security, keeping them indoors and shutting down production.
These are double-gubernatorial untruths that can only portray the Governor of Anambra- the victim state as having sold out Anambra on the facts of this matter. The Governor of Kogi state whose state is the aggressor has nothing to lose from this obviously false narrative in the communiqué, taken against all credible accounts. Kwelu na ife bu nkem, mana lizie! (Concede that it is is mine, then take it).
How can our governor sell out on the facts of the matter?
To understand why even those who issued the communiqué do not believe themselves, Governor Peter Obi immediately contradicted the communiqué moments after its release having been reported to have said ,according to Daily Independent Newspapers of April 5, 2013 that ‘we will compensate those whose building were destroyed in the incident’. This is for an event in which only four motorcycles were destroyed.
We see this quick acceptance of responsibility to compensate the owners of burnt houses that the communiqué does not acknowledge in the first place as strange, wasteful; not founded on any prudential management and not resting on any clear heading under the yet unsigned 2013 budget proposals.
We are inclined to think that whatever extra-financial burden being imposed on Anambra State by this perforated one-man negotiation could have served to properly address issues affecting 140 staff f the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), who have been on inconclusive transfer from the mismanaged parastatal to the Ministry f Information since March 1, 2013, after one week notice, and who are yet to be paid salaries from December 2012 till date.
Better still the funds may be useful in preventive measures on anticipated floods in Anambra riverrine communities later this year, particularly now that Governor Obi claims that Orient Petroleum closed down only because of floods.
More importantly, the acceptance to foot the bill for damages not captured by a phoney communiqué between two collaborating high officers with similar broad partisan interest at the expense of Anambra State is an incentive for future invasions, since the latest attack is not the first, and Kogi State Government which has a hand in the deployment of these fighters has not condemned it and has not accepted to pay for these damages to properties and compensate for losses of human lives.
We therefore urge a revisit of the facts telling the story as it is, so that a lasting peace can be founded and built on reality. The truth as our governor accepted outside the communiqué is that buildings were burnt, with occupants indoors in the invasion and lives were lost. These matters must be squarely addressed.
Hence while the National Boundary Commissions, which existence Kogi State knew about and yet chose the path of violence is doing their graphic part of the job, an investigative panel is required to establish the real impacts of the invasion with a view to factoring in those into whatever genuine communiqué would be generated between both states beyond one-on one chat.
The matter of disruption of Anambra State Oil Wells is too serious to be subjected to the current treatment it is getting, even if we posit that placing the bill of compensation squarely at the door step of Kogi State is a necessary path to the permanent peace Anambra State deserves in that axis.
These are times that test leadership qualities. I hope Governor Obi and President Jonathan are passing the test