“Our rice and other agricultural produce if properly utilized will boost our economy; we need to encourage the farmers in the rural areas in particular to commercialize their farm produce and encourage more access roads which agriculture will hardly thrive without.
“We need to empower our people to utilize the full value chain, that is to enable those people empowered to be able to make a living from their handwork, to ensure that people have access to loans for small scale businesses that will be beneficial to them not buying bikes and cars that they can’t fuel, making them dependent on you rather than been productive.”
…Hon. Barrister Legor Idagbo (PDP, Obudu/Obanlikwu/Bekwara federal Constituency) – March 2015.
Don’t forget I am from Obudu local government area and so, Honorable Legor is my representative.
I promised you at the beginning of the year that I will look for plenty trouble this year. The year is ended and I am not sure if I made enough trouble as I promise.
Today I don’t want to look for trouble. I just want to ask my Rep. who incidentally is also my in-law and friend, five questions in public.
1. Hon. Sir, do you still remember what you told us (your constituents) in 2015 about bikes and cars as a form of empowerment or were you just saying it for saying sake or were you taking our intelligence for granted and thinking that we will not remember and hold you to account or was it all of the above?
2. Sir, what was the needs assessment component of the just concluded empowerment program that you did in OUR CONSTITUENCY?
3. All the beneficiaries of the tokens that were disbursed are members of or supporters of the PDP, your party. Sir, are you representing the entire people of Obudu/Obanlikwu/Bekwara in the Green Chambers or are you representing only members of the PDP or is that how empowerment ought to be done?
4. If you truly believe like you said in that quote that we need to encourage our local farmers to commercialize their produce and boost value chain, aren’t there better agricultural empowerment options than bikes, and cars and grinding machines?
5. Are these empowerment programs actually targeted at solving problems on a sustainable basis or are they just a part of the political tokenism geared towards keeping “the people dependent on us?, like you said in your quote above?
In like manner, just before the 2015 general election, politicians went round sharing disposable tokens and called them empowerment.
Hon. Dansuki gave out over 10 vehicles, over a hundred bikes, hundreds of grinding, sewing machines, and tricycles.
Hon. Bassey Ewah, also gave out over 10 cars and other tokens worth over 300 million naira in an event that saw him and former Chief of Staff, Alex Egbona, slapping themselves in public.
Senator Owan Enoh, gave out over 30 cars and hundreds of bikes, while Senator Ndoma Egba, shared over 50 cars and hundreds of bikes and other tokens worth hundreds of millions.
Jedy Agba was also generous. He shared several exotic cars and recently shared over 300 bikes. Nkoyo Toyo was also not left out. She shared her own portion too.
Can we use any formula to ascertain how all these humongous sums and election time giveaways have actually empowered anyone?
I once bought my late mum a grinding machine which she never used because in our compound alone, there were three of the machines and almost every other woman in our village that has a child in the city bought their mums one until there were nearly no one who had any need to go elsewhere and grind and the machines all began to pack up.
Why won’t constituency empowerment programs be taken more seriously. This is a multi million Naira routine that requires expert advice and input for maximum impact. We should stop treating these constituency engagement program as party largesse.
This is my constituency. I will continue to ask these questions until I get satisfactory answers.
Agba Jalingo, a journalist and activist writes in from Lagos.
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