Many people have been wondering and inquiring why I have been silent
for some months. The two reasons for this are: firstly, to gauge the pulse of
my readers after my down-to-earth analysis of the Agbor politics/leadership and
secondly, my absence from the country for a while. I want to appreciate my
numerous fans for the solidarity messages I received from Ika sons and
daughters all over the World which have encouraged me to continue to speak the
truth irrespective of who is affected. The second reason made me to miss the
meeting of the leaders of Delta North PDP which was held at Agbor on 14th
October 2011. This is a meeting that I would have loved to attend and I was
glad to hear that the meeting was very well attended and successful.
As part of my catching up with events that took place while I was
away, I have read where the Speaker was quoted to have apologised to the people
of Ika nation on behalf of the PDP-led government (his own party) for the
infrastructural decay of the area; the reaction of the Member representing Ika
South in the state House of Assembly and a rejoinder that was addressed to
Concerned Citizens of Agbor. It is on these that I want to comment.
The biggest problem with politicians generally and with almost all
Nigerian politicians is their inability or unwillingness to say, “I am sorry
for my failure or for my government’s failure”. Instead, they could use their
constituency resources and all the grammar in the dictionary to try and defend
the indefensible. They forget that you do not hide a broken nose because when
you speak, the sound reveals it. Again, Nigerian politicians should begin to
realise that Nigerians are now coming of age to be able to separate substance
from chaff. On the eve/the morning of
the meeting, the gods of Ika nation opened the sky above Ika land and the
Almighty God sent down the rains to welcome the PDP leaders. On this occasion,
it was not Elder John Ehikwe who told the visitors the sufferings that Ika
people have been experiencing.
The Speaker came to Agbor, he saw things for himself, he believed
what we have been complaining about; and above all, LIKE A NOBLE MAN AND
RARE POLITICIAN, HE APOLOGISED ON BEHALF OF THE GOVERNOR AND HIS GOVERNMENT.
I am yet to understand what the Member representing Ika South stood to gain
from attacking the Speaker for doing his duty and what some other Ika indigenes
stood to gain from informing the governor about the Speaker’s apology even
before the end of the meeting.
It was the primary responsibility of the Member representing Ika
South to apologise to Ika people on behalf of the government but he did not
have the liver to do so. Under normal circumstances, if he was a true
representative of the people, when his boss, the Speaker and No. 3 citizen of
the state took courage and showed the strength of character, not only to admit
failure but to undertake to right the wrong, the Ika South Member should have
added his voice to that of the Speaker to help spur the executive arm of the
government into action in favour of his constituency.
Representatives of the people should always be on the side of the
people they are representing and should never act as the mouthpiece or defence
organs of the executive. If the government releases any big sum of money to a
controversial project like the Old Lagos/Asaba Road, the Speaker is in a better
position to know than the Member but what the Speaker was concerned about was
not the release or non-release of funds to the project but the application of
the funds. Let us even admit that the contractor had acknowledged the receipt
of funds and had promised to complete the job as soon as the rains ceased. As I
am writing this piece, we are already in the middle of November (the best time
for road projects), there is no sign of seriousness on the part of the
contractor despite having collected 300 million Naira. The highest number of
workers that I have seen on any single day for over one week that I have been
back is four labourers working on the drainage system. Very soon, Christmas
season will take the blame for the delay and the situation will remain the same
until February/March when rainy season will take over the blame. At that time,
I am sure that the Member representing Ika South would have forgotten about the
funds already released but not applied which nobody will dare to ask the
contractor to account for while the money just melts away like that.
The truth is bitter and politicians do not like to say or hear the
truth but a few of us breach all protocol and say the truth. At the Ogwa Ika
2011 at Ute-Okpu, the governor was repeatedly blaming Ika South voters for
voting against him at the last general elections and indirectly telling them that
they were going to be punished for it. What I had expected from the governor on
that occasion was an apology to Ika South people and a promise to immediately
address their grievances. I did not hesitate to express my views and so, on 23rd
August 2011, I wrote a personal letter (not published) to the governor. Part of
the said letter read “…….. In one of my write-ups in January 2011, I warned
that if your Excellency did not change this bunch of selfish deceivers and stop
imposing candidates and appointees on the electorate, Ika South would not vote
for you, judging from the mood of the people. So, Your Excellency, the result
you got from Ika south was as a result of your inability or unwillingness to
change your attitude towards the real political leaders in the area. Frankly
speaking, your failure in Ika South, which I had earlier predicted, should not
be blamed on the electorate but on your misjudgement of the power of quality
leadership. Above all, the blame should be squarely laid on your “trusted” but
incompetent agents who could not positively present you to the electorate,
despite the empowerment and resources made available to them……..” I ended
the letter by suggesting to the governor to convene a meeting of selected Agbor
leaders to discuss the way forward. I was hoping that at the proposed meeting,
we would demand an apology from the governor but up till now, I have not
received the governor’s reaction.
The Speaker, as the No. 3 citizen of the state and actually the No.
2 principal citizen because the Deputy Governor is only an alternate governor,
has every constitutional right to apologise for government failures in any part
of the state. He is the Speaker of the State Assembly and not the Speaker of a
state constituency and as such, he can exercise his oversight functions in any
part of the state. After all, the Speaker oversees the legalisation of the
allocation of the state’s funds to projects throughout the state. A Speaker
does not deserve to be called Speaker if he does not care whether or not such
funds are applied for the benefit of the constituents.
I am sure that the governor who knows that the Speaker did an
excellent public relations (PR) job for the government has since appreciated
the Speaker for a job well done. If he has not already done so, he should
ignore the people who are playing to the gallery and be man enough to show some
gratitude to the Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we now know that you know your right and
your functions. You should not stop at those beautifully-worded apologies or
pronouncements. You should match your words with action. You should summon any
defaulting contractor in any part of the state (starting from Hi Tech
Engineering Company) to the floor of the House to explain their defaults.
STATE FUNCTIONARIES WHO OPERATE AS IF THEY ARE
VILLAGE CHAMPIONS SHOULD KNOW THAT THEY ARE NO LONGER WELCOMED. So, Mr.
Speaker, if you chicken out of your responsibilities because a few misguided
agents of retrogression have criticised your noble action, then you should not
be surprised to see your name among those who have had the opportunity but
failed to perform.