Ahead of the March 9 Governorship/House of Assembly elections, a Nigerian clergyman has expressed sadness over what he called ‘insensitivity’ of most occupants of the elective offices in the country towards the plights of the masses.
In particular, the clergyman lamented that after elections, the elected are fond of closing their ears and eyes to the yearnings and sufferings of those who voted them into power.
Rev. Fr. Thomas Ebong, who is the Director of Communication Department, Ikot Ekpene Diocese of Catholic Church, said “I want the incoming Akwa Ibom governor and the state law makers to listen to the plights of the people, pay pensioners their entitlements- gratuity and pension arrears and civil servants their promotion arrears. I am a retiree and for the past two years, I have not collected my gratuity nor my monthly pension.”
Ebong who spoke with Straightnews reporter in a telephone interview onWednesday urged, “The incoming governor should listen to the cry of the masses and address such. The incoming governor and the law makers should think of how to inspire the people and how to wipe away the tears of the masses.
“The incoming governor should not tell lies and should not deceive the populace. They should listen to the yearnings of their constituents. The greatest leader in a community is not the person who brags about but a person who listens to the plights of a common man on the street. Our leaders should listen to pieces of advice and use such to build the society. Unfortunately, some of them are too selfish.”
According to him, “The governor should think more of providing basic infrastructures to the people in the state particularly in the rural areas. In Gambia, for example, the people are living near the sea shore. They bud and tender corals, sell and use the proceeds to feed themselves and send their children to schools.
The Catholic priest bemoaned “It is unfortunate that our Akwa Ibom people know how to speak grammar but they do not know how to play politics of inclusiveness like the Hausa and Fulani people. I want to advise candidates aspiring for the state House of Assembly and other political leaders to be humble.
“If there is a debate, political office seekers shy away because they do not have any meaningful programme for the populace. Why not attend the debate to enlighten the people on your development programmes for them so that while in the office your subjects can hold you accountable to those promises?”
Ebong was worried that “The populace do not even know the candidates of the political parties to be voted for in the elections. If I do not know them, you can think what will happen to the illiterates who may not have seen them mostly the local government chairmen and councillors.
“If some politicians would deceive me to vote for their political parties without convincing me their parties’ manifestoes, how about the aged and illiterates? Most political office seekers do not go to the rural areas to canvass for votes, at least to promise the electorate that if voted into power they will establish markets, repair rural roads and provide other social amenities in the overall interest of all.”
“If the political leaders are not ready to defend the interest of others, they should forget about aspiring for elective offices. How many of them allow their children to go to polling unit to fight for them or to hijack ballot boxes and run away? For example, more than 16 persons were killed in Rivers and Bayelsa States during the presidential/National Assembly elections. Can you imagine the South-South people coming to fight and kill themselves over elections? Some of our people are still rookies in national politics.
He queried “Have they heard the Northerners killing and maiming themselves? That is why I think the Hausa and the Fulani play mature and inclusive politics. Some of our politicians who want to travel to Abuja prefer to go by aircraft instead of boarding vehicles even when they do not have enough money. This is politics of self-aggrandizement. We have enough raw materials for exploitation, yet the politicians want to misuse our money instead of using it attract to industries to their communities using the available, rich to the incoming governor:”
The priest doubted, “Unfortunately, we have plantains, coconuts, palm trees and palm wine trees and other agricultural products, whose values have not been exploited them fully to the benefit of others. Why can our government assist in the establishment of Distilling Mill? Can our government not establish a Fruit Storage Industry to preserve fruits during drought? Can we not establish the Seafood Products Industry to preserve the abundant seafood items from Atlantic Ocean? Must our leaders continue to collect the monthly allocations from the federation account to share among themselves?
“It appears our representatives vie for positions of leadership to share allocation accruable to the state government treasury instead of using the funds to build, invest and develop our society. When they assume office, they concentrate to protect their interest not the interest of the masses, which should be the primary thing. They should think of what they can do to develop and grow the society not what they will benefit from their exalted positions,” he opined.