Electoral deceit is not new. It is not unusual for people to try manipulating the electorate in their favour.
The unwholesome exercise is expected to peak this week during the primaries of the political parties to choose their respective standard-bearers for the 2023 general election. This is done by sundry means, such as vote-buying, rigging and other unwholesome acts, the most popular being empty promises to deceive the gullible.
Nevertheless, before you fall for their promises, interrogate the antecedents of those seeking your vote. Some of them are adept at the promise-and-fail game and have frittered away opportunities given them in times past and, rather than work for the common good, chose to feather their own nests only and, perhaps, those of a few cronies and family members.
In the circumstances we find ourselves today, endemic hunger in the land is wreaking havoc. Therefore, a lot of people are easily deceived into accepting little crumbs and selling their conscience to the devil, not minding the repercussions on tomorrow.
However, this should not be the time for such grievous mistakes of the past, especially in the Imo North Senatorial District, where all manner of people have thrown their hats into the ring.
Well, to all delegates, if they bring their loot, you may collect it (after all, the money was originally ours) and still vote your conscience but if you know you cannot, better put your legs to good use, barricade your conscience and do Ben Johnson; scram and tell them to perish with their loot.
Above all, delegates should not fall mugu to name-dropping. A lot of people are occupying the political space already donning the toga of a senator and beating their chest, boasting to grab the ticket based on the governor’s purported support.
People can claim anything but one thing nobody will take away from Governor Hope Uzodinma is that he is a smart guy, smarter than most of those hobnobbing with his name. Of course, though he is not from Imo North, he still has a say in who gets what and will definitely try to influence certain decisions, where possible.
Nevertheless, the last thing the governor would want is to support someone to the Senate who would fight him tomorrow or join the camp of his inveterate opponents. That is a reason he must look well before backing any candidate.
If I were Uzodinma, I would do everything humanly possible to see that the current senator representing Imo North, Sir Frank Ibezim, gets the return ticket to the Senate. Being a cool-headed gentleman, Ibezim, in the last one year that he has been in the Senate, has focused on doing his work and never challenged the governor in any way. In fact, he has never been found wanting in giving the governor his due respect and vice versa. Why would the governor then go out of his way to upset the chummy relationship by supporting those that would turn against him tomorrow?
Indeed, Imo North delegates know that ahia oma na-ere onwe ya; a good product sells itself. They only need to look around their communities and see the litany of verifiable infrastructural development in just one year of representation to confirm that Ibezim is that ahia oma. Humble to a fault and self-effacing, the lawmaker has been more about the business of providing infrastructural development to the zone and attracting democracy dividends to the people than making any noise about them.
If it is not a road network, then it is financial interventions or reviving the reading culture of our children through the classroom library project he is driving, sports promotion, or teachers’ motivation or addressing natural disasters in flood-prone areas or drilling boreholes or mounting solar-powered light for the people or one empowerment programme or another, including training and providing toolkits for beneficiaries.
Always eager to make life easier for his people, recently, the humane lawmaker has not only set a programme in place to enable his constituents to register and obtain their National Identification Number (NIN), but through a partnership with approved NIMC agents to bring the exercise to their doorsteps, he also creatively turned it into empowerment package for youths.
Apart from equipping all his constituency offices in the six local government areas for the exercise, a select 120 youths have been appointed and trained as agents to ease registration and capture of constituents, free of charge. Each participant would be compensated with a cash reward for each constituent they register.
Also, in collaboration with the Agricultural Development Project, Ibezim empowered at least 128 farmers from all 64 wards of the zone in March this year with various improved seedlings and cash.
More significantly, nobody will deny the senator’s huge exploits in the power sector that is lighting up the entire zone. In fact, many areas are already enjoying the blazing light. When completed, women grinding pepper, the barber and hairdresser, welder, tailors and all artisans, among others, can now ply their trade with more ease. The implication of this is wealth creation, economic boom and drastically reduced youth restiveness.
It is a slap on the face of the people for anyone who had tasted power, executive or legislative, in the zone since the past 20 years but saw no need to fight for the execution of the already approved but abandoned Okigwe power substation to dream of dislodging the man who made the difference in under one year at the Senate. It is only fair and just to allow Ibezim to return and consolidate on these gains.
Many did not give Ibezim a chance, dubbing him a greenhorn. In fact, his die-hard opponents described him as an unknown quantity when they tried to stop him at all costs. This was an irony because Ibezim had been around for some time, having come from the Diaspora and served the state as a commissioner and general manager of Imo Poultry. However, simply because he was not their loquacious beer-parlour drinking mate, they elected to run him down, but his mantra, Jehova wu Eze, came to full manifestation and he trounced those that felt Okigwe was their personal fiefdom and took his seat in the Red Chamber on April 27, 2021.
To God be the glory, Ibezim has disappointed the sceptics through his five-star performance. He quickly mastered the art of lawmaking, sponsoring bills and moving motions and was effective in his oversight functions, as a member of key committees of the Senate. Now, he is well-heeled and returning as a ranking member with huge attendant privileges.
It is noteworthy that the delegates referred to are of the APC stock, who must first hand Ibezim the ticket. Thereafter, the entire zone must line up behind him during the main election because he is the much desired proven quality.
Imo North must jettison primordial proclivities. The new normal is to accept that things must now be done in the most civil and mutually beneficial ways in order for the zone, which has stayed far too long in the woods, to move up the ladder and be reckoned with likes of the two sister zones in the state.
There is no doubt that Ibezim is the champion of this new order. If they remove the wool in their eyes, even doubting Thomases must have been convinced beyond doubts of the need to put party and sentiments aside because evidentially, Ibezim has proven that he has the capacity to transform the zone; yes, he can.
The bogus entitlement syndrome that has afflicted some sections or persons in Okigwe should be trashed. If a person had been entrusted with power, executive or legislative, and all he told us after the inglorious outing is bull, why must we even consider that person at all? It is time we asked those aspiring to represent us at any level what they did with previous mandates, irrespective of parties.
Meanwhile, Ibezim has since obtained and completed his nomination forms for the 2023 contest. He has also successfully undergone screening by the party.
Judging by his laudable achievements in the one year he has been in the Red Chamber of the National Assembly, the Imo North constituents eagerly anticipate his return to consolidate on these landmark achievements and greater democracy dividends he is poised to bring home as a ranking member in the upper legislative house.