Open Letter To Governor Martin Elechi


Your Excellency,

This letter contains two separate but interconnected features.

I have been an ardent supporter and admirer of your standing as one of the many catalysts for the creation of Ebonyi State. I have also praised a couple of the aspects which could be described as the success stories of your administration. But recent events have triggered a significant sense of unease and foreboding from deep within me.

In your meeting with a few selected members of the Ikwo PDP executives on 23rd October 2010, you reportedly took the following devastating steps, amongst others: (1) You allegedly threatened to withdraw from re-contesting the gubernatorial election in the event that an Ikwo man (read Senator Emmanuel Onwe) proceeds to run for the senatorial election in Ebonyi Central; (2) You decreed that all serving members of the State House of Assembly and Federal House of Representatives should be returned to their respective positions for a second term; (3) You demonstrated a historical sense of generosity the like of which was never associated with you by dishing out a largesse of N2 million to one hundred handpicked PDP ward and local government executives at the conclusion of that conference.Gov. Martin Elechi

Your Excellency, to have publicly struck this matchstick within a hairbreadth proximity to a mountain of powder keg is egregious, calamitous and tragic, particularly issuing from the lips of the Chief Executive and the Chief Security Officer of the State. Can you be certain that the conflagration that might potentially ensue shall be containable?

The grave implications of your threat to withdraw from re-contesting as a direct response to my senatorial candidacy are manifold: it has the stench of blackmail; it has the real potential of inciting the more crude and feverish elements amongst your cheerleaders to resort to violence against me, against members of my family and against my campaign team and others. Once these simple people perceive me as the only impediment to their unearned power and lucre, they will stop at nothing to eliminate that obstacle. I have no iota of doubt that you understand this. I have, in fact, received threatening phone calls and text messages demanding either my withdrawal from contesting the senatorial election or my readiness to suffer deleterious reprisals. These came in the immediate aftermath of that grossly misjudged meeting. Already, the Ebonyi Central Zonal Chairman of PDP who falls squarely within the bracket of the elements herein characterised, telephoned a top member of my campaign team and threatened him with suspension from the party. I was a direct witness to this nauseous incident.

I am incensed that you did not even demonstrate the nominal decency to invite me to a discussion of such a weighty matter as my political future, particularly having been forced to fight for over three years to regain my mandate. It is also unjust that you made such an inflammatory declaration at a time when I was addressing a crowd of over 20,000 people at Ndufu Echara Ikwo in my resolute effort to shore up our party base ÔÇô a crumbling base which is fast congealing into caked mud across the length and breadth of Ebonyi State. Such action is altogether ignominious of my office. The office I hold in trust for the people. To insult Dr Onwe is one thing, but to insult the office of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is another thing entirely. I expected a higher level of circumspection from an elder of your stature and an occupant of your high and Excellent office.

This unfolding event is alarming, particularly against the background of a manifestly politically motivated abduction of the close relative of a prominent politician in Ebonyi State. A restive State is now being nudged inexorably to a cauldron of political mayhem. It is as unnecessary as it is unacceptable. Bringing this fight to me regardless of the fact that I have at all times been both deferential and praising of you is uncharitable. Using my senatorial seat as a cannon fodder is dangerously manipulative. And political manipulation aimed at thwarting the will of the people is historically fraught with peril.

But I can assure you that I will not be intimidated. The people's resistance will be massive and total. The people are sick and tired of being treated like doormats. The people have taken enough of the dirt from the wicked boots of arrogant politicians. And I am prepared to sacrifice my life for them. Let the world take note!

Your decree that current members of the State House of Assembly and Federal House of Representatives should be returned automatically as candidates has no basis whatsoever either in the constitution of the PDP or the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If you offered me an automatic ticket I would reject it. The field is the arena in which political kings are crowned by the people. It is also the arena in which political princes fall on the sharp sword of rejection by the people. Either way, it is in the field that true political generals meet and embrace their destiny. Furthermore, the gesture of casually handing out tickets on our party's platform is repellent and inequitable. Granted that equity has played no role in the political dynamics of Ebonyi State since its creation, but I must decry the relentless retrenchment of the people's democratic franchise. I have fought against this betrayal with equal relentlessness and have resolved to commit the remainder of my political career to challenge and assail it. The people's will must prevail, for there is a direct correlation between the supremacy of the people's will and democratic accountability ÔÇô the very hallmark of true democracy: a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Lest we forget!

What wrong have the neglected members of the Ikwo PDP executives committed to warrant their exclusion from partaking in the sharing of the N2 million loot you dished out to the selected few? What evil have my constituents in Ezza South, Ezza North and Ishielu Local Governments committed that they have not been deemed worthy of the largesse dished out to some Ikwo Local Government party executives, much less participate in a conference so central to their democratic entitlement to choose their representatives?

Still on this deeply discriminatory action, what sin have my fellow party men and women of Ebonyi North and Ebonyi South committed to be excluded from partaking in this unprecedented gesture of generosity? On the last occasion I investigated, you were still the Governor of Ebonyi State and not of Ikwo Local Government Area. Your Excellency, what is good for the geese is equally good for the gander.

Injecting my office directly into your personal ambition is a grave error, with the greatest respect. I have never plotted, nor shall I ever plot, to stand against you, even though I have the clear advantage of a thunderous political momentum. The seat of the Senate is a matter connected only with Ebonyi Central. My political interest, for the moment, begins and ends there. The seat of the Governor is a matter concerned with the entire state, thus your interest is engaged state-wide. (I have no interest whatsoever in your office. Why constitute a threat to mine?) More importantly, regardless of the geography of the analysis, the emergent positive political thinking in Nigeria favours true democracy at all strata, including internal democracy within political parties.

And this brings me to the second feature of this letter.

On 22nd September 2010, I acquiesced to the request of my supporters to make the requisite payments of Five Thousand, One Hundred Naira (N5,100.00) into the designated bank account of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) at Intercontinental Bank, Abakaliki Branch, in fulfilment of a pre-condition to obtaining the eligibility form to participate in the ad-hoc Ward delegate congress. For the ease of reference, the account number is: 00585000000497.

Following the payments, each of the bona fide PDP members were issued with a bank teller. The bank tellers were to be tendered as evidence of payment in order to obtain the relevant forms in question.

It is with much sadness that I must inform Your Excellency that my supporters have been unable to obtain these forms from either the State Secretariat or from the Ikwo Local Government Party Chairman or Local Council Chairman. They have been kicked from pillar to post until they have become exhausted, frustrated and rejected by their own party.

It has come to my knowledge that the sale of these forms are being manipulated in order to exclude my supporters from standing election at the Ward level to be elected as ad-hoc Ward delegates. These ad-hoc Ward delegates will play a very critical role in determining the emergence of candidates during the primary elections in my constituency.

The refusal to issue these forms to my supporters, despite presenting authentic evidence of payment as required by the PDP, is discriminatory. It is an action that denies me the equal opportunity, as enjoyed by other aspirants to the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Ebonyi Central Senatorial District. It is an action that falls in direct contravention of Section 87 (3) of the Electoral Act, 2010. It is an action that breaches Section 17.2 (f) of the Constitution of the Peoples' Democratic Party, 2009 (As Amended). It is an action that fundamentally offends the spirit of internal democracy, transparency and "level playing field" as trumpeted and publicised by the PDP's national leadership.

Similarly, the new party cards that are meant to be given out to all existing and new members have also become objects of devious manipulation, and my supporters are the primary victims. A few numb-skulls parading as party apparatchiks in the villages in Ikwo have come to regard the cards as license to power and influence, hence they hoard the membership cards, giving them out only to those who swear to a secret oath of loyalty. We have the shattering evidence of this treacherous and bizarre occultism. At a time when other political parties in Ebonyi are buzzing with membership drive, our own blinkered hams are busy playing infantile power games with the very soul of our party, particularly in Ikwo. The PDP is dying in Ikwo and if our prevailing lack of imagination endures for a little longer, the funeral pyre will soon be lit.

I trust, Your Excellency, that as the leader of the party in the state, you will feel able to deploy the powers of your good offices to issue an immediate directive that all eligible party members who wish to obtain the ad-hoc Ward delegate forms should be given unhindered access to the forms. These are simple decisions we can take now for ourselves and make smooth progress rather than hand them over to high court judges and thus, inevitably, retard our progress.

Finally, let me make it crystal clear that I will take a stand. I have taken a stand. The struggle for democratic franchise in my country is the struggle of my life. The inhibited democratic space in Ebonyi State right from the moment of its creation must be liberated, expanded and deepened in order for the upcoming generation to lend their modern talents and skills to the onerous task of developing and civilizing this bush. This, too, is the struggle of my life. I am prepared to die in order for the will of the people, in this experimental democracy, to gain ascendancy and ultimately triumph over the rapacious excesses and abuses of power.

Accordingly, Your Excellency, I must demand a public statement from you urging restraint on your exuberant followers. These are serious times for serious minded people to articulate, dispute and contest the serious business of power in a democratic fashion because the challenges we face as a rural state are enormous. This is not a time for nitwits running around and issuing random threats. I must further demand a guarantee that no harm shall befall either myself or any member of my family throughout this political season. Threats against members of my campaign team by mindless brutes are totally unacceptable and I must urge you to publicly and determinedly condemn all acts of politically motivated violence in whatsoever form expressed or demonstrated.

Whilst I await a coherent and sober reply, I shall return with a follow-up to this letter.

Yours faithfully,

Senator Emmanuel Onwe

For the attention of Mr President

For the attention of the National Chairman of the PDP

For the attention of the Ebonyi State Chairman of PDP

For the attention of the Inspector General of Police