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OP-UNEDITED | Anambra 2017: A Paradigm Shift From Transactional Politics – By Ezeani Elvis

By Ezeani Elvis

As young citizens of Anambra State, we hold the establishment responsible for the imperfections in our system. Members of the establishment are often blamed for failing to lead well or not leading at all. The irony of this situation however suggests that we never think we should ever examine ourselves to find out how well we may perform if we suddenly became part of the establishment.

While I do not think it is inappropriate for concerned citizens to ask pertinent questions which touch on leadership. As a matter of fact, this in itself is a civic duty. However, before we launch more queries, I would suggest we jointly appraise the situation my friend, a young university graduate and fellow Anambrarian, Chidoka Obiano recently found Himself in.

Chidoka got a low wage job as fuel station attendant in Capital Energy Plc. after graduating with good grades in Hotel Management from the Victor Jagaban University. He had hoped shortly before completing the NYSC scheme that the future held strong prospects for Him. This was mainly because He successfully “worked” his way to serve in His home state, Anambra where a local broadcasting organization hired him promote a beauty pageant where Cucumbers were served during break. He was discharged afterwards!

Often broke, Chidoka relied heavily on His friend Peter Umeh – Okwute who often subsidized His cost of living with weekly stipends.

As a fuel station attendant, Chidoka, known for His intelligence, sense of humour and deep logic made new friends including a certain Nwoye Aforka, operator of a small scale Abakaliki Rice bagging mill in Amichi. As general elections approached, Nwoye Aforka during a leisure chat suggests to Chidoka that given His seeming interest in civic matters, He could lead Him to a certain Ngige Ezeemo, a retired professor of Igbo studies who could mentor Him.

Chidoka would eventually meet Prof. Ngige Ezeemo who went on to encourage Him to seek election into the post of Chairman in Chinenye Obidigwe Local Government Area. This suggestion was because as a fuel station attendant in Capital Energy Plc., the young Chidoka on account of his attributes gained remarkable popularity in the entire local government area – everyone knew him. With this factor, His candidacy will be an easy sell.

With the support of Andy-Martins Uzodike, His supervisor at the fuel station and Maduagwu Obidigbo the station manager, some friends and neighbours, Chidoka purchased nomination forms and proceeds into the contest. Running on the strength of Keke and Okada operators, Ndi-Ibu Ochanja, some students of nearby Rojenny University and market women from the Ogbo Mmanu, Chidoka wins the election and emerges Local Government Chairman – Elect.

A thanksgiving service held at a local branch of the Odozi Obodo Christian denomination in the course of which the Holy Father-In-Israel, Obumneme Nobert Ike-Oye (Ebube Ndi Nso) presents Him to the congregation as the unanimously anointed chairman of an ad-hoc committee also specially anointed to raise funds for the building of a permanent church auditorium. He was returned unopposed amidst cheers from a notorious women group, Women of U-AYA, hired to attend the event.

A week after the thanksgiving, Hon. Chidoka’s father, Ichie Ekwunife Obiano calls a family meeting and Hon. Chidoka attends alongside His siblings, Iyom, Eselu, Nnamsom, Nwibe, Idigo and Obaze. After opening remarks, the frail old man announced in Igbo language that “God has finally remembered us”! He therefore charged Hon. Chidoka to show good leadership in their Umu-Nna by:

  • Completing their long abandoned family house project on Udogu Soludo Road.
  • Taking full responsibility for the academics of His siblings.
  • Reclaiming their plot of land near Muoghalu Junction forcefully taken by a relation.
  • Allocating 5 lock-up fully stocked shops to Osodieme Nkem Ekwunife, His mother; and
  • Sponsoring Him on a trip to Texas and later Jerusalem on pilgrimage.

A month after this meeting, Chiamaka Tonia Odionu, Hon. Chidoka’s long suffering girlfriend of 6 years from Akpugo visits Him at the council headquarters and suggests that it’s time their relationship is taken to the “next level”. She therefore asks to know when Hon. Chidoka will:

  • Visit her parents, Chief & Lolo Onyia Eneh – Odionu for a formal introduction.
  • Officially marry her.
  • Acquire travel documents for her kid brother Tai Okelo Odionu.
  • Buy a land so they can start a building project; and
  • Start a business for her as plan B in case he is not re-elected.

Later in the same week, Nzewi Valentine Nebolisa who donated the only “Osite Bus Car” Hon. Chidoka utilized during the campaigns sent Him a text message saying “Di anyi, it is our turn to shine. Ndi ojoo ga e kwete na Chineke eme go gi ezege”. 

Appraising Hon. Chidoka’s condition will reveal that mention was not made of requests from members of his political party for themselves. If this is also considered, it can therefore be imagined what time Hon. Chidoka will have left to face the real business of governance. Clearly, his situation is a terrible one and it is not different from what most Anambra politicians face.

Even youth do not spare their fellow youth who attempt to seek elections. They make one demand after the other. Drain the resources of the contestant and simply apply the “abandonment scope” at the eleventh hour. How then can we progress?

Barack Obama thinks that “most times, we need a change in in both attitude and character to promote the kind of society we want.”

If this position of Mr. Obama is correct, we must then realize that as citizens, we occupy the highest office of the land and as such, the manner in which we exercise the powers of our office is crucial. It goes beyond mass rallies, symposiums, social commentary or free newspapers readers gossip. To a large extent, it goes on to our being mindful of our actions as they relate to politicians we have access to and the demands we make of them in closet.

Do we have executive powers as citizens of Nigeria, Anambra State especially? Have we in a way or another exercised executive powers as citizens? Answers to these questions is in affirmative and these are a few incidences where we may have exercised the powers of our office:

  • When before elections, we allow colorations like tribe and religious denomination form narratives which guide participation and support for a candidate thereby promoting mediocrity.
  • When before elections, we demand financial gratification before performing civic duties which could lead a good candidate to victory on the day voting is conducted thus institutionalizing transactional politics over progressiveness.
  • When during elections, we vote for a candidate not because He/She is best but because we have been fed portions of Jollof rice with grilled chicken and ketchup thereby making it impossible for real sector growth and development to occur.
  • When after elections, we staunchly defend government officials who spend scarce state resources to punish opposition, undermine institutions of government and host lavish parties and other private events like graduation parties and chieftaincy ceremonies alongside other shades of graft.
  • When as children, we demand that our politician parents send us to schools abroad knowing quite well that they will be going out of their way to fund such a lifestyle.
  • When as wives, we pressurize of politician husbands to award (inflated) contracts to family members, friends, husband of our friends and associates when they are incapable of executing such projects.

Like the traditional institution, the clergy is culpable in this matter as they think it is appropriate to invite political office holders to chair annual thanksgiving and fund raising events in their various denominations. To them, it is also proper to anoint political office holders while prophesying that a second ticket to office is signed, sealed and delivered to them in the higher realm. To them, it as normal to continually encourage sowing of seeds and all manner of offerings to the ministry. They see politicians as wealth set aside for the creation of more wealth.

Clearly, we all are guilty for contributing effectively to the decay of immediate society because even where politicians emerge with desire to serve society, citizens simply make it impossible. The coming governorship elections presents us with a chance to make our system work well.

If our local politicians must work better than they currently do, the few of us who have access to them must as a matter of urgency be ready to sacrifice our quest for personal aggrandizement for the collective good of society.

We must stop arm-twisting them into deviating from the core principles of selfless service. We must also learn to owe them the truth at all times and not hesitating to always remind them that it is most important that they lived their lives in such a way they when they exit service, in gold, their place in posterity will be guaranteed.

Follow me on twitter @NonsoEzeani1

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Inspired by Steve Biko’s ‘I Write What I Like‘, OP-UNEDITED is the citizen opinion segment of SIGNAL. All opinions posted on the OP-UNEDITED page are unedited and the raw opinions of the writers.

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