My Dear Patrons,
I sincerely wish you all compliments of the yuletide season. It is my fervent prayer that all of you will be in good health to share in the abundance of God’s Grace that come with the celebration of the reason for the season- our Lord Jesus Christ.
I will not be surprised if some of you wonder why this letter is made open considering that I know most of you personally and can reach you individually. I want to assure you that no mischief is intended as my respect for you individually and as an institution remain unequivocal and rock solid. However, I am convinced to make the letter public considering the wider societal implications of the message I intend to convey to you. More importantly, because this letter is in utmost public interest and specifically addressed some issues germane to the survival and progress of our development association- the Nzuko Aro, I considered it important to put in public domain for robust discussion.
My distinguished patrons, If we cast our mind back to December 2009, we will readily remember that the conduct of the Nzuko Aro elections in that transition year was not as smooth as we all wished it to be. Indeed, the first attempt to conduct the election ended in chaos and was marred by brigandage, character assassination, inappropriate use of force and rabid propaganda never before witnessed in the annals of Nzuko elections as far as my short memory can go.
More disconcerting about that election, and indeed, what etched almost permanent fear in the minds of many Aros when they recall that episode was that it coincided with the death, at Amaikpe, of the military attaché to one of our rising stars in the Nigerian military, who was also a candidate in the election. Though, there was no remote connection between the two events, however, the former conspired with the latter to traumatized our ambience of peace, destroyed our sense of community celebration that such season usually offer us including questioning the mutual tolerance amongst us that hitherto was the trade mark of the Aro Okeigbo brand.
For the first time, we could not conclude a properly scheduled election which has now permanently changed our electoral calendar from December to March. In addition, that election subtly and unfortunately introduced geopolitics into Nzuko Aro body politic- which is now unraveling, complete with its disruptive tendencies in the leadership of almost all our traditional institutions. Not done yet, that election clearly altered our age-long consensual approach to leadership succession in Nzuko Aro and threatened the Nzuko Aro as an institution. Honestly, why we successfully braved it through, I am not sure we can live through a repeat of such an experience in the forthcoming elections.
My esteemed patrons, Indeed, It will smack of insincerity on my part if I downplay the leadership role you provided in resolving that matter. You clearly rose to the challenge and deployed your wisdom and tact in retuning the nearly derailed Nzuko Aro electoral train back to normal tracks. The idea to appoint a caretaker committee headed by one of yours was a master stroke that went a long way in resolving the impasse. But the question remains: could the patrons have prevented this unfortunate incident even before it happened? My candid answer is yes!. Why it did not happen and the palpability of it repeating itself in the forthcoming elections, especially exploiting the caretaker committee option for selfish reasons warranted this open letter, written with utmost reverence to you all.
My elders, for analytical purposes, let me say that I have gone through the Nzuko Aro constitution and came to the conclusion that it was not the express wish of the constitution to subjugate your role as patrons to the whims and caprices of the Nzuko Aro executive. Indeed the constitution in its wisdom created your body as the “Board”, who has the sole responsibility to properly advice and guide the management (Nzuko Aro Executive) towards the achievement of our corporate (community) goals. Very instructively, the constitution gave you a commanding role when it comes to election matters and it was for a purpose- to ensure transparency and fairness in order to whittle down unnecessary executive interference in electoral outcomes.
Therefore, the danger in abdicating your responsibility to the executive in election matters is unknown to the constitution, especially in matters that threaten community peace and progress like inconclusive elections. The constitution sufficiently armed you to act preemptively to forestall disorder on issues that requires prompt response such as elections and dispute resolution involving Nzuko Aro and other institutions. Otherwise, a power hungry and opinionated executive will appropriate your powers and frustrate your efforts and consequently perpetrate self-serving agenda if you take your eyes off the ball.
Even when you manage to assert your selves later, your response will be belated, reactive and weak (since the damage would have been done), rather than preemptive and effective. This is exactly the scenario that played out in many instances such as the 2009 elections; the women’s election impasse; the still birth of the new Okpa Nkpo; the Eze Ogo court matter and such inadvertent indifference could equally undermine the forthcoming Nzuko elections if you fail to act timeously, purposefully and preemptively.
My highly respected patrons, it is important to remind you that the forthcoming election has the trappings of generating heat for some reasons: First, it is a transition election from incumbent to another. Second, many of the incumbent executives are interested in contesting the elections so you will grapple with the issue of fairness and credibility. Third, there is resurgent interest in the elections by people who are not insiders but ordinarily will not take what happened in 2009 even with a pinch of salt. Fourth, peaceful conduct of the forthcoming elections is critical to resolving most of the lingering issues in our community and finally, the rumor mills are already rife about possible disqualifications and caretaker committee options to be foisted on the electorate using executive powers. In Nzuko Aro elections and indeed other crises, learning not to dismiss rumours of this nature is for me the beginning of wisdom as recent events had amply demonstrated.
My dear patrons, this is why and when your role becomes very important in ensuring that the forthcoming elections is peacefully conducted. I have no credentials to advice you people considering your individual and collective pedigree, but let me respectfully say that, as the custodian of our collective cultural and development trust, you need to keep your ears open and to the ground for any advice no matter how inconsequential. There is urgency for you to act in time to ensure that things do not go wrong like it did in 2009 and in many other instances. With due respect, I expect you to begin to show very serious interest in the preparations towards the elections by considering the following views:
Invite the executive to brief you on the modalities for the elections and the time table. Diligently ask question about criteria on eligibility to contest and eligibility to vote as these are contentious areas in the constitution that could be exploited for mischief. Take over the management of the elections to ensure impartiality and transparency as enshrined in the constitution. Put in place proactive machinery to ensure that there will be no breach of peace that day and finally assure all contestants of fair treatment. These are minimum conditions that will ensure that the forthcoming elections will be free, fair and peaceful. My dear patrons, I respectfully and sincerely urge you to start early to look for the black goat before the dark night falls. Ndeewo nu!