Continued from yesterday
In recent weeks, the utter disdain for Akoko-Edo showed starkly in its non-inclusion in a number of programmes which the state government put in place for the benefit of the citizens due to flimsy, somewhat unfounded excuses.
First, the state empowered 500 farmers with 171 small irrigation gadgets towards enhancing the 2022 Dry Season Farming. Under this scheme which is intended to empower smallholder farmers by aiding their production throughout the dry season, Ovia Local Government got 139, Etsako got 20 but Akoko-Edo got none. Upon investigation, the reason adduced was that our local government area has no viable water source. By the way, whose fault is it if the area has no good water source when the government continues to mindlessly ignore the Ojirami Dam?
By far the most poignant evidence that Akoko-Edo does not matter in the scheme of things is the response of the government to the outcry of indigenes to the incessant kidnap of citizens on our roads and within our towns and villages. Following such an incident recently which provoked the hue and cry of the people, the state exco reportedly had an emergency meeting after which a decrepit motor bike was sent to the local security group. And that was it! Will it be out of place to ask our dear Obaseki about the Armoured Personnel Carrier he promised? If he has forgotten, we implore his deputy, Comrade Philip Shuaibu to remind him.
There is mining activity going on in the local government area which clearly is to the knowledge of the state government and at a time when it has become fashionable for states to regularly flash the resource control card it will be nice to know whether the states have clean hands to qualify for equity. Is there any priority or concession granted to the locals in terms of employment or investment participation? Does the local council earn any royalties from the activity? Do the mining organisations have any Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in place to improve the welfare and infrastructure of the communities being so ravished and ravaged? We will be glad to have positive answers to these posers. There are several other areas where the pact with the Obaseki administration has been disregarded and breached but let us limit it to these for this piece.
If we are going to be honest with ourselves we must not be sparing of our own elite too. Indeed, Akoko-Edo has been blessed with elite who have at one time or the other occupied powerful positions that could truly change the game positively for a lot of our struggling youth through gainful employment or business opportunities. Only a few go out of their way to look out for the interests of our local council? If we do not understand that we are double minorities and we must maximise our opportunities towards enhancing our collective development, progress and relevance, then we have a very long way to go! Indeed there is a particular case where a friend of mine was about to get a contract with one of the education agencies and the last requirement was for his representative to endorse it by his signature. The lawmaker allegedly withheld his signature on the grounds that he also does business with the same agency and that his endorsement of his constituent’s contract might block his own chances. All entreaties by close allies of the legislator fell on deaf ears leading to the constituent’s loss of opportunity. Talk about representation!
I think we are afflicted by what I call “smallness syndrome” or a mentality of smallness, which ensures that we operate from a narrow prism of self and family, sometimes even sans family, no matter how high God elevates us. It is a foul spirit that is overdue for exorcism! While the already big peoples and tribes are fighting to gain more space, relevance and power, the people who most often remain aloof are the minorities apparently trusting that manna will fall from heaven.
Let me make some very important points as I close this piece. Someone has said emphatically that the only way for the Akoko-Edo sorry story to change is if an Akoko-Edo indigene becomes governor of the state. This is true only half-way because the personality of the individual who gets the seat will matter much more. If that individual attempts to be more righteous than God, if he is lily-livered, easily pliable, if he is afflicted with smallness syndrome as described above, if he is too exotic or “oyinboish” in his thinking, we will still not get the desired change. The truth is you can have someone with both the yam and the knife but who knows nothing about how to apportion appropriately or beneficially! You can have a puppet in borrowed robes. Let us therefore rise up and assert ourselves legitimately, within the confines of the law, for the benefit of our people and home land, wherever God has helped us to wield some influence. We must be intentional about seizing the moment. This way we will begin to make some headway and truly be ready for the governorship when it comes!
Are we ready to embark on PEACEFUL demonstrations at the State House of Assembly, Governor’s Office as well as at the National Assembly to press our demands? Are we ready to utilise the media through paid public notices to tell the world about our frustrations? Are we ready to get more politically involved? Are we ready to take issues up legally with the government where clear travesties and injustices have been committed? Are we ready to invest more in our villages/ towns through private businesses? Are we all ready to take pride in and promote our culture like the Ososo people are doing? When we are ready in these ways, the world will take notice and it will become increasingly difficult to trifle with us?
As I put these thoughts on paper on this last day of the year 2022, I challenge us as a people to drop our timidity, our laid back and uncaring attitude. We must let them go so we can enter a new phase from 2023. We must add works to our faith lest it be dead.