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Amaechi Town Hall Meeting: The Opobo/Nkoro Response

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When the legendary Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as “Government of the people, by the people;  for the people; uninformed skeptics of his contemporaries mocked has aphorism as balderdash without conventional syntax. Little did they know that the reality of this definition that emphasised on “the people” will survive generations unborn. The fact is that the splendour of democracy is the determination of supreme will of the majority people as embellished by its mass participatory attribute that distinguishes it from all other systems of government.

As the most universally acceptable system of government, it’s stance presupposes good governance based on the doctrines of the rule of law which in prutanity projects equity, transparency, sovereignty and freedom of expression of the citizens as distinct from military dictatorship, where might is right, as survival is only for the fittest through the obnoxious jingle rule of “do or die”. An act which left the vast civil population oppressed and their voices suppressed with the most vitriolic inhumanity hence the clamour for democracy to bring about peace to enhance rapid infrastructural and human capacity development.

Thus the introduction of meet the people tour simply referred to as the “Town Hall Meeting” by the Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi-led administration in Rivers State is indeed a welcome development.

The Town Hall Meeting is significant in many respects in that it brings governance nearer to the people by creating an enabling environment whereby the people, especially those in the rural areas could meet with the Governor face-to-face and express their feelings about government.

With this development the people are given the seldom opportunity to massively and freely partake in the governance of the State. This free-for-all interactive session among other things gives the governor first hand information about the people and places to enable him know their immediate and pressing needs and how best they could be addressed.

On the other hand it demystifies the assumed invisibility of politicians once elected into office. It is incontrovertible that many politicians have made themselves unreachable to their people whose mandate they hold as a trust. The wrong signals emitted from such politicians without good intension and vision made some people to often call politics “A Dirty Game” and remain cynical about it.

However, Governor Rotimi Amaechi in his exemplary leadership has disproved the wrong impression by making himself reachable to the people through the town hall meeting. He made it possible to discuss, share ideas and opinion with the rural people in a common forum like members of one family. The town hall meeting in a nutshell is an enlarged political family meeting in which the governor makes every community he visits his home and the people, his own people.           .

Since the inception of the Town Hall Meeting, non performing Chairmen and contractors handling community development projects have started working to justify the huge monthly allocation and mobilisation fees they received. The visit· in many places have exposed chairman and contractors that are performing below expectation through response of the people as it was used to assess the performance of the various councils in developing their communities.

 It is another way the Governor uses to make Chairmen and Councilors give account of their stewardship in their presence for confirmation and otherwise of their people, while in turn he unfolds State projects in the local government areas and same time unveils his administration plans for the benefit of the people.

More importantly, because of the visits, work has resumed in many abandoned projects as contractors that had gone into hiding after receiving mobilisation fee have resurfaced and commenced work; this has risen hope that the once denied dividends of democracy have started reaching the people. In some places the visit has helped to reunite opposing groups within the traditional and political institutions. The groups bury their grievances against one another and unit to give the governor the ovation he deserves and in one voice make request for assistance from the governor who is liberal to assist.

Many local government areas have in so doing attracted extra development projects directly from the Sate Government while some local government councils have been relieved of huge overhead and security costs among other things. The recent town hall meeting with governor Amaechi at Opobo Town, headquarters of Opobo/Nkoro Local Government Area (ONOLGA) was unique as it brought to the fore democracy in action through exhibition of visible dividends of democracy in form of social amenities and long term infrastructural development that would benefit even generations unborn.

The people’s response in testifying to have never had it better than now gives credence that the Maclean Uranta’s administration of the local government council has lived above board in rendering meaningful service to people. His administration has in spite of the not so huge allocation it receives against difficult and expensive geographical terrain has embarked on many projects which include the building of Opubo Hotel to boost tourism and revenue to the council, construction of concrete bridges to link the kala-ama communities of Opobo kingdom, installation of solar powered water projects at Opobo town_ and Nkoro, installation of solar powered water projects at Queen’s town .Others are construction of new office complex, building of staff quarters and internal roads, modern  toilets at Opobo and Nkoro, renovation of the council secretariat, and legislative building, purchase of buses and boats to ease land and water transport, renovating native court at Opobo town as well as offices and staff quarters at Nkoro.

 He also provides regular electricity supply and adequate security services for protection of lives and properties. The Council is also assisting the various health centers to function effectively as well as helping members of National Youth Service Corps posted to the area.

On the State Government part, the Governor announced the award of contract for the construction of eight primary  schools at Ekere-borokiri, kalaibiama, Nkoro town, Queen’s town, kalama, Iwoama Nkoro and two others at Opobo town. On health, he disclosed that work is in progress at health centers at Opobo, Queen’s town and Nkoro) while he had delivered (2000KVA) generator sets at Opobo town in addition to the existing ones.

He promised that the Unity Road projects will soon reach kalaibiama town in Opobo kingdom. He used the occasion to announce to the delight of the people about the competition of landing jetty at Epelema, land reclamation at Opobo town and shore protection projects at Queens town. His visit to Opobo/Nkoro gave him first hand information of how the council spends millions of Naira monthly on security services which he promised to relieve the council of such burden. With this development, money that would have been spent on security by the council could be channeled to other aspects of development.

Condemning violence and militancy he stressed on the need for giving children the opportunity to have good education as to produce the much needed manpower to project the state high in overall developn1ent. One of the major achievements of the Town Hall Meeting was the Governor’s promise that the state government will partner to make the Opobo International Boat Carnival (OIB) a great success. And that it will form part of the state cultural and tourism agenda. So from all indications the Amaechi administration is a blessing in verification.

One good turn, they say, deserves another, and to whom much is given, much is expected. Maclean Uranta has at the council level given much to the people of Opobo/Nkoro; Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has also given much to Opobo/Nkoro people and Rivers State in general. This bears eloquent testimony that the ruling People Democratic Party (PDP) manifestoes is a true statement of assurance for peace and progress of the people and development of the entire State. The peoples-oriented leadership Rivers people have been yeaning for has come through the party; let the people not be  deceived to derail but to continue following the path of peace to enhance rapid ‘infrastructural and human capacity development in the entire State through continuity with PDP and support to the hardworking Governor.        .

Let them reciprocate the good gesture by supporting PDP government at all level with true spirit of patriotism and honesty now and beyond this tenure.  But then, non performing Chairmen, and representatives of the people at various level of parliament should improve their relationships with their people by making themselves available and answerable to their people. They should justify the purpose of the peoples mandate they are holding with execution of constituency projects and empowerment of their people.

Let it be known to them that those they met on their way going up, will be the same people they will meet on their way coming down. The Amaechi humility in service which necessitated the ongoing Town Hall Meeting is the right step in the right direction, which should continue and emulated by other leaders who mean well for their people.

 

Austin Brown

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CAN Accuses El-Rufai Of Hidden Agenda

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The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of engaging in politics with civil servants and residents of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the state chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, in the aftermath of the pronouncement of a four-day work week by the governor.
El-Rufai had said the state government would begin implementing the transitional arrangement in the public service starting from December 1, 2021.
However, the CAN Chairman urged caution, stating that the citizens of the state had been subjected to pains by this government through some of its unpopular policies.
He advised civil servants in the state not to celebrate the policy yet until they were convinced that there was no hidden agenda behind it.
“Workers must be sure that the policy is not aimed at reducing their salaries.
“They must be convinced that the government will not wake up one day with another shocking news of salary reduction since the five working days have been reduced to four.”
“How can a state that is not secured talk about giving workers time for agriculture and be with family when bandits move about freely, terrorising people in their homes, on the farms, and on the highways!
“How can one spend time with family when you have nothing to feed them or provide for their basic needs?” he said.

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Meagre Allocation Stalls Adamawa LG Polls

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The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC) has postponed the December 4 local government council polls indefinitely due to  lack of funds.
ADSIEC Information Officer, Innocent Daniel, said on Monday that the commission was awaiting funds from the government to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.
“Among the major challenges that led to the postponement of the election was the meagre allocation to the commission in the state’s 2021 budget.
“The allocation is too meagre for the commission to organise and conduct the election.
“Also, the re-usable election materials such as ballot boxes, duty vests, bags and kits were completely vandalised during the #Endsars protest,” he said.
The Information officer said that the commission was also faced with the problem of handling the new polling units that were converted from voting points by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said that the conversion had raised the polling units in the state from 2,609 to 4,104.
“This development will lead to an increase in facilities and ad hoc staff. The ongoing registration of new voters will also have a resultant increase in ballot paper requirements.
“It is in this regard that the preparations for the local government council election for December 4, is hereby suspended to give the government time to source for funds,” Mr Daniel said.

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2023: Northern Youths Urge Old Politicians To Steer Clear

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Politicians above 60 years of age have been urged to stay away from the presidential race come 2023.
The appeal was made by the leadership of the Concerned Northern Youth Forum (CNYF) in Kaduna yesterday.
They argued that in developed nations, people of that age and experience were mostly engaged in charitable activities, free consultancy services and other forms of selfless services.
The spokesman of the group, Comrade Abdulsalam Moh’d Kazeem, called on youths to take advantage of the “not too young to rule”  to participate actively in the political arena.
Also, a north-based group has tasked Nigerian youths to join politics to free the country of bad governance.
Coordinator of the group, National Youth Movement for Good Governance, Nasiru Aliyu, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna, said Nigeria requires young hands that can work assiduously to address its developmental challenges.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the North Central zone and bigwigs of the PDP in the region, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of Bukola Saraki in the 2023 presidency.
The group, led by Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, stated this on Monday during the advocacy committee meeting for Saraki with party members and delegations from across the zone at the Nasarawa State party secretariat in Lafia.
An associate of Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged the party to consider Saraki as its presidential candidate for 2023 to salvage the country from total collapse.
Also, the campaign team of a former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday met with the party’s officials and stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of Benue State over the 2023 general elections.
The leader of the team, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said they were in Benue as forerunners of Atiku to consult with the elders of the PDP in the state and ask them for support for their principal who will be contesting the presidential poll in 2023.
Similarly, a support group, Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), has said the national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not too old to contest the presidency.
While 69-year-old Tinubu has not formally declared his presidential interest, his recent visitations and series of support groups, rooting for him, show his interest in contesting the 2023 presidency, probably under the APC.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the Coordinator, TLF, FCT Chapter, Barrister Abdullahi Awwal Muhammad, said Tinubu was not too old to contest for the presidency.
In Lagos, a Yoruba group yesterday endorsed the former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the next president. The group, under the aegis of Oduduwa Sons and Daughters for Equity and Justice, declared that the Yoruba people have decided to support a South-Easterner as successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

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