The development standing of any society is dependent on the developing consciousness of the people living in society. It can be stated that if a given geographical area is developed, it implies that the inhabitants of such an area are sensitive and conscionable to development. Conversely, if an area is undeveloped, the burden for the non-development of the area is more likely to be placed on the people of the area. This viewpoint is supported by the statement of a British Social Entrepreneur, Harold Rudolf, when he said that: ” Any guilt arising from an under-development of any area lies more on the people of the area than it lies on other considerations.”
The above observations offer a viable ground to heap the burden or responsibility for the non-development of Okigwe zone primarily on the indigenous people of the zone. From the above reference, one can vocally state that there is something unusual about the character, conduct, attitude, or way of life of the people of the zone which inhibit the development of the zone.
This article will seek to point out the strange attitudes of the people of the zone which, in effect, hamper the attainment of its desired development. Without rhetoric, the political life of the people of the zone is disturbingly self-serving. Both the people at the lower ladder and those at the upper echelon have their eyes fixated on hand-outs and pea-nuts from politicians while those who ought to be political father-figures make their choices based on the sizes of Ghana-must-go bags brought to them.
The elected or appointed politicians themselves evaluate their performances as legislators or appointed government functionaries based on the number of houses they have built for themselves or the number of business empires they have opened for themselves or the number of vehicles they have acquired for their use or the mind-blowing account balances they have l in the bank. In all these, nothing of public interest is put within the priority range of the public officeholders. Consequently, the zone stands out as one where people serve their elected or appointed politicians as a condition for crumbs to fall off the master’s (politician’s) table whereas, in saner societies, it is the other way round.
There are no conceivable plans by the public officer to bequeath sound development legacy to the zone, at least, for the judgment of posterity. Relatedly, they are not stimulated by the good efforts of their colleagues elsewhere. From a distance, a keen observer will notice a frightening disconnect between the leaders and followers of the zone…as the leaders are blind-folded by the trappings and paraphernalia of their exotic offices, their followers are ravaged by the thorny and suffocating grips of poverty.
The legislators at the different government levels don’t synergize with one another towards the betterment of the zone. Each of them, both at the state and national levels, does his/her thing without drawing ideas from anyone. Absolutely, there is no forum where they can come together to interact and brainstorm on issues of common interest bearing on the zone and its development. Far from this, they show open disdain to themselves while operating at cross-purposes with each other. Moreover, colleagues from other zones achieve a lot working in unison while those of our zone destroy the basics of our development working against themselves.
As obtained in other climes, public office holders compete among themselves over who has a better development record than the others, they seek to find out who has attracted more social amenities or embarked on more people-oriented policies, programs, and projects or has excelled more in the achievement of his campaign promises than others
Regrettably, the reverse is the case in Okigwe zone as public office holders in the zone compete more on the line of self-accomplishments. As far as the zone is concerned, politics is a platform to make quick money, a platform to assume an undeserved position over others and a platform to measure height and flex muscle with the big boys. The average public officer in the zone has no worthwhile plans for the people either in the short term or in the long term hence their extra-ordinary indulgences in material exhibitionism and show-manship.
Having accustomed themselves to the self-service disposition of public officers in the zone, the voting population toes their line also by casting their votes based on gratifications received from candidates. In every circumstance, the pivot of political success in the zone revolves around money.
Consequent to this abnormally, the result of elections in the zone hardly serve the public interest, because, in the first place, the elections were conceived on self- serving agenda. The zone is presumably considered infertile for development because the hearts of the people who ought to drive the vehicle of development in the zone are infertile. Therefore, the factors which aggregate to facilitate development in other zones fail to make headway in the zone because there needs to be a human will for development to accelerate.
In other areas, the rich and powerful people are great assets who combine efforts with their people to fish out best hands who will give their people qualitative representation, sadly, in Okigwe zone, those who qualify to be categorized as human assets turn-out to be dangerous threats to the development of the zone.
First, they offer to sponsor some of the candidates in an election who they think they can manipulate. By this offer, they provide the candidate mouth-watering sums of money as an accompaniment to the offer. With the money, the unfavoured candidate can afford to manipulate the process to his advantage They also provide the candidate high-level contacts to relevant government agencies connected to the conduct of the election. Once the candidate emerges victorious, the sponsor extends his manipulations to the newly elected legislator using him according to his whims and caprices. He handles all the business angles of the legislator in the guise to recover his huge financial investments in the election. All plans initiated by the legislator to benefit his constituency are aborted by the sponsor who places his money above meeting the constituency needs.
As the senatorial bye-election in the zone draws near, the god-fathers (aka sponsors) with their net already spread out, are looking for another public officer to emasculate. We need to be more properly guided…most of the people we voted in the past did not represent us…..lets vote for the one who will represent us.
All that glitters are not gold. That’s why we, the members of “Izu-Umunne Socio-Cultural Organization”, with over two thousand members cutting across all the 6 LGAs and 64 electoral wards in the zone are endorsing Dr. Charles Onyirimba contesting under the platform of APGA as the only aspirant among the many jostling for the position who we can undoubtedly vouch for his integrity, reliability, and credibility to oversee the affairs of the zone at this trying period.
Onyirimba, as we know him, has all it takes to dislodge the obstacle standing between Okigwe and its development.
*Dr. Ahaiwe is an Owerri-based Public Affairs Commentator*