SENATE 2015: OKIGWE BEST OPTION
by Amaefula Amadi
It is no longer a secret that the bell has tolled for 2015 politics and electioneering. To start with the political parties are now brimming with a motley crowd of aspirants seeking to grab their flags for various elective offices. We have those angling for State Constituency Seats, House of Representatives, the Senate, and governorship. Apart from incumbent President Jonathan, there are indications that the likes of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Gov. Musa Kwankwaso and Gen. Buhari are also keen on the presidency. Surely, when the pictures gets clearer, the jostling and push for party tickets is bound to reach fever pitch.
Apart from the rush of aspirants political parties have as well started issuing guidelines for their primary elections. Just last week both the People Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressive Congress (APC) gave a glimpse of their preparedness for 2015 with the release of nomination or primary election guidelines. Before this move, most aspirants have been indulging in a kind of hide and seek with party men and women on the ground that guidelines have not been made public. But, with its release by the various National Executive Committees (NEC) of these parties, contestants who are genuinely bent on running are expected to throw their hat into the ring.
Indeed, it is now time for serious business at all levels. If you are running for a state constituency seat or eyeing any of the chambers of the National Assembly now is the time to vigorously sell yourself to the delegates of your party for endorsement. Of course, as you are working inside the party, expectations are that you will equally be in touch with the voting public.
Keeping a tab on the voting public is an important task that confronts every serious contender for any elective seat. The electorate keeps growing in awareness and consciousness each passing day. Therefore, to stand a chance of winning their votes you must be able to convince them beyond all reasonable doubts why they should vote for you. As I write majority of voters now make it a point of duty to gather and keep relevant facts and figures they need on those asking their mandate. Given this present reality, politicians have no other option than to work hard at convincing them by way of well conceived and well articulated agenda that affect them directly.
But while the aspirant or candidate churns out his agenda the voters themselves also have a crucial role to play. In fact, they have the hardest assignment given that experience has shown serious failure on the part of the political class to keep to campaign promises. In reality, many have said that the perennial promise and fail associated with the political class is the major bane of our democracy. Of course, this to a very large extent is true.
Everybody agrees that our country has abundant human and natural resources. Ordinarily, the presence of these endowments ought to directly translate to development when managed well by good leaders. But this has not been the portion of this country with fingers pointing in the direction of leadership as responsible for this sorry state of affairs. This, perhaps, was why Prof. Chinua Achebe in one of his seminal works bluntly heaped the blame of the nation’s underdevelopment on its leadership.
With the doors opening on 2015 and given the mad rush on-going for offices, the electorate needs to be forewarned. They should realize that leadership has been our major drawback at all levels and therefore, must “shine their eyes”. They owe it a sacred duty to themselves and posterity to stand their ground and demand for nothing but the best. Let them go for candidates who have used previous stints private or public to clearly demonstrate that they possess the basic leadership qualities of performance, philanthropy, grassroots reach and vision for growth and development. For me the clarion call should be that only the best is good enough for us in all cadres of elective positions.
As other people and areas are making this clarion call, I have no doubt in my mind that Okigwe zone would not be left behind, especially at the senate level. It is as clear as daylight that the zone is not a force to reckon with in the Red chamber of the National Assembly since 2011. Yes, we have a sitting senator in the senate but majority view is that he has not been able to give the zone the voice and visibility that are crucial for leveraging development and infrastructure at home. The result of this below average representation is near absence of federal presence in Okigwe zone.
But this is not all. Okigwe people are also angry that not much constituency outreach has been carried out. We hardly get called together for constituency briefings and consultations on burning national issues. The few times Okigwe have been called have come as a result of criticisms of none-performance from the opposition. Of course, what this implies is that we would not have been availed such rare opportunities if the sail had been all smooth.
Indeed, it would not be sounding immodest to say that Okigwe zone has been a back bencher in the past three years. This unfortunate sitting position, though self inflicted has constituted such a big clog in its wheel that the zone is today not able to jostle with other zones for the national cake which is the primary reason for sending a senator to Abuja. It is just sitting contentedly at the back watching the fierce struggle between front runners and scooping up the crumbs that fall off their portions of the cake.
Without mincing word, Okigwe zone desires and deserves a change in 2015. I think is the word on every lip in the zone now. But then the question is: what kind of change do we want in the senate? Would we be making change for the mere sake of change? That is will Okigwe sell the monkey and turnaround to buy the dog when both creatures squat on their hind legs? Definitely the answer to these questions is a resounding No! The change Okigwe desires and deserves is a positive change which like the morning sun would light up the nooks and crannies of the zone with purposeful and people oriented leadership as well as imbue it with a strong voice and personality in Abuja.
For me, finding that man for this onerous but honourable task is a simple arithmetic. We have a legion of aspirants gunning for the seat and all of them are Okigwe sons. Now, all we have to do is sit down and ask ourselves who among them has in the past done so much for the zone. Let there be thorough comparison of records put forward by each and everyone of them so that the wheat can be separated from the shaft. This patriotic task is important so that we would not take one step forward and take four steps backward to return exactly to square one.
Going by the cut throat competition that would come in 2015, Okigwe zone needs a square peg in a square hole. Our next senator must have the requisite legislative experience. If you take a count of those angling to replace the incumbent there is one major flaw plaguing all of them. Only one man amid the lot possesses that legislative pedigree that would make him hit the ground running in Abuja and that is Rt. Hon. Benjamin Uwajumogu. Surely, to hope of achieving something we should not send a learner who will use the better part of his stay to learn the ropes. Uwajumogu is out of this category having played at the top in the past four years as speaker of the State Assembly.
He would be a ranking legislator by virtue of his four years on the floor of the Imo State House of Assembly. Because of this, once he steps into the senate next year, Okigwe will stand to benefit in many ways.
First, he would be entitled to head a strategic committee. If he plays his game very well and I am sure he will, the chances are there that he could become a principal officer. With any of these positions, there is no doubt that Okigwe zone and Imo State would benefit tremendously.