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Yuletide experiences and acknowledgments (2)

By Douglas Anele

What is the student-teacher ratio in state schools? Can the meal subsidy buy a decent meal for the children? We have already noted that the roads constructed by the state government are substandard, which means that, ultimately, the money spent in constructing them is wasted. To worsen matters, the poor quality of governance at the executive level is replicated in the Imo state House of Assembly.

The function of the legislature, aside from law making, is to ensure that the executive branch executes projects that will uplift the lives of the people. My investigation reveals that the quality of debate in the floor of the House is low, and that majority of its members lack the gravitas, knowledge and moral fibre to ensure that Okorocha and his team deliver dividends of democracy to Imo people. The member representing my area, Nkwerre, in the House of Assembly has not justified the confidence reposed in him by the electorate.

His scorecard is below average; he has not attracted any developmental project to my hometown, Owerri Nkworji. Largely, the same goes for the legislator representing Nkwerre, Nwangele, Isu and Njaba federal constituency in the House of Representatives. From what I saw, it appears that incompetent contractors are executing the few projects he allegedly attracted to my village. For example, the short link road connecting Ukwu Egbu and Umudi-Dikenafa road is still in a terrible state, although there is some semblance of attempt to fix it, just as the solar streetlight project under construction along that same road is far below standard.

In most parts of Nkwerre local government, people are still buying water from water vendors; those who cannot pay the exorbitant prices charged by vendors send their children and wards with wheelbarrows and rubber containers to fetch water from the few boreholes available. In my humble opinion, representatives of my constituency at both the federal and state levels are underperforming and should be recalled immediately.
While in the village, I observed one of the most despicable methods politicians use to deceive and despoil people at the grassroots level. They pretend to empower their constituents by buying and distributing money, tens of tricycles (keke Marwa), bags of rice and salt, textile materials, etc. Now, the volume of traffic in most villages, except during festivities, is very low, meaning that most times operators of the tricycles hardly get reasonable returns for their efforts. On several occasions, people are injured, and some die in the fierce struggle to get a share of the rice, salt and other commodities distributed by politicians, as was the case last Christmas in my village when a woman died while trying to collect her share of the handout from a local politician.

Because Nigerian politicians are egocentric and wicked, they do not understand the real meaning of empowering the masses, of service to the people. Real empowerment of people cannot be achieved by giving them handouts, whether in the form of money, keke Marwa or essential commodities, because these things do not last. Genuine empowerment comes about when those in positions of authority use public funds to provide good and affordable schools and hospitals, build industries, expand avenues for self-employment and wealth creation, as well as create well structured welfare programmes that can meet people’s needs on a sustainable basis. Judged by Kantian moral principle, which stipulates that human beings should always be treated as ends in themselves and never as means, Nigerian politicians are complete failures.

For them, the well being of ordinary Nigerians do not matter: what is of paramount importance is maximum exploitation of the intellectual and material poverty of the masses to achieve their narrow selfish ends. That said, I want to use this opportunity to express my warm gratitude to numerous individuals who in various ways enriched my life with care, kindness and love. Beginning from the University of Lagos where I earn my living, I wish to thank the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Rahamon Adisa Bello, a calm and unassuming administrator. Sir, your kindness to me is gratefully acknowledged.

All my colleagues in the Department of Philosophy, especially Profs. Jim Unah, F.N. Ndubuisi, Muyiwa Falaiye, Dr. Modestus Onyeaghalaji, Peter Osimiri, Debo Gbadebo and Surajudeen Owosho – you were good to me and I am grateful for that. Dr. Adeyemi Daramola of English Department, you were the first person to give me your widow’s might for my father’s burial; for that and for your friendly disposition towards me, thanks. Dee Tony, Dr. Isaac Nwogwugwu, Ngozi Chinwa, Kalu Onuma, Chief Martin Agbaso, Oscar Onwudiwe, Dr. Adebayo, Deputy Dean, Student Affairs, J.A. Aliu, Deputy Registrar Academic Unit, and Profs. Igwilo (Director, Foundation Programmes), Osarenren, Mojekwu, Longe, Nwokoma – my sincere gratitude to all of you for being nice to me. My good friends who are better than brothers – Chief Innocent Egwim, Chief Ralph Obiduba, Fred Udueme AGM (Brand) Vanguard Group, what you contributed to my life in 2013 is unquantifiable. I hereby express my gratitude. Some wonderful friends at the University of Ibadan made my sabbatical leave there a sort of homecoming. They are Drs. Isaac Ukpokolo, Francis Offor, Amechi C. Udefi (HOD), Chris Agulanna, the Departmental Secretary, all my colleagues in the Department of Philosophy and Madam Bisi of the Alumni Guest House, University of Ibadan – I thank you all. My PhD student, Fatai Asodun, Rotimi Omosulu, Dennis Otto, Stanley Nkemole, and Jude Nwankwo – all budding scholars in the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos; I cherish your friendship. Engineer Kunle, Gbola Oba, Manager, Rotimi and the Automedics crew; you ensured that my Land Rover (LR3) jeep remained roadworthy all year round – thanks a lot. Matthew and Lugard, thank you for your help. I also wish to acknowledge Babatee, Debostic, MS, Big Worm, Segun, Lawflora and his wife, and all those who helped fix some of my automobile problems. Uncle Sam Amuka, Jide Ajani and the people at Sunday Vanguard, I salute all of you. I cannot but express my appreciation to Ade Ipaye, Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, who saved me from unnecessary embarrassment by uniformed touts purportedly working for Lagos Mainland Local Government. All the residents of Block C, Highrise, University of Lagos, I cherish the community life we share. Police officers Abe, Chinedu and Yemi, you are my friends indeed. Mikolo, Frank and Mr. Edo, CEOs of MEI Group, Papa’s Place Lekki and Cave Night Ikeja respectively, thanks for the hospitality. Nduka, Mercy, Eddy, Mrs. P. Abugu, Mrs. Anyaokwu, and especially my enigmatic Queeneth, in different ways all of you were good to me and I appreciate.

My dear sister Ihuoma, Emeka, and Chinwendu: you tried your best in looking after Alagbo in the last few years of his life; I cannot thank you enough. My darling wife, Ijeoma, and my two hyperactive but sweet daughters, Nwanyioma and Nwadiuto, you mean much more than I can express in words. As I always say, without you, and those whose names I failed to mention here, I cannot be what I am right now! CONCLUDED.


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