Perhaps only a few constituencies within the Southeast zone will compare with Idemili in terms of lack of federal projects.

Ejike Anyaduba

There is very little assurance that Idemili North and South Federal Constituency, one of the eleven constituencies in Anambra State, has a fair deal in the National Assembly either now or in the past. Like a few others bugged by bad representation, the constituency (the largest in the Southeast zone) has been in search of good representation since the dawn of the representative government in 1999.

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Past efforts at getting it right never paid off possibly because the representatives paid little or no regard to the peculiar challenges of the area. At best, they pursued personal interests and were too self-absorbed to care for the needs of those whose mandate they held in trust.

It is not difficult to notice that the constituency ranks among the very least in terms of quality representation. Seldom were those who represented the area seen sponsoring bills and supporting motions in favour of the constituency. This fueled the speculation that they were either too timid to articulate a view, voice an opinion or that they were completely out of tune with the business of effective representation. Whatever the case, the situation was not helped by their lack of visibility even in the pews of the hallowed chamber.

Perhaps only a few constituencies within the Southeast zone will compare with Idemili in terms of lack of federal projects. Even such projects as provided for in the constitutional allowances of members were hardly sighted anywhere in the constituency. What dot the entire landscape are outdated toilet facilities. No doubt, the case of Idemili is quite pathetic for the simple reason that it is among the few places within the Southeast where nature is in constant revolt. The threat of gully erosion in the constituency is most potent. It hardly compares to any elsewhere. Virtually all the seventeen communities in the two local government areas that make up the constituency have active erosion sites that make life unbearable for the people. The efforts of the state government in tackling the menace are commendable. Within its limited resources, the state government has been very proactive. However, these efforts need to be bolstered by a strong voice in the National Assembly that can help maybe through accessing of the ecological fund. It is not hard to know that the problem would be half solved had the area been blessed with good representatives.

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But this is one of the difficult situations ineffective representation has put the constituency. However, this situation easily pales in insignificance when compared to other denials which lack of effective representation has thrust upon the people. The issue of youth empowerment is yet to receive the attention it deserves. Surprisingly, this all-important human capital development project has continued to run low in the last sixteen years or more. It is not clear why it is so, but suffice it to say that with its high population (majority of which are youths) Idemili remains a flashpoint of youth restiveness which only positive engagement could avert. The closest to youth empowerment embarked upon by any representative of the people was at best rash. Such program like giving out of motorcycles to some youths was an economic waste and pushed the youths farther afield. Likened to it was paying of stipends to select few who double as thugs during elections. Efforts were never made to leverage on the many youth empowerment programs of the federal government to create jobs for the unemployed. Even those who need a voice to vouch and recommend them for a few federal job opportunities were denied access.

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The case of market women, subsistence farmers and students is not any different. Where micro loans and scholarship grants would suffice, indifference has been the lot of the constituency. Businesses that needed little incentives to grow are allowed to fail.

But things will not continue to slide without effort to stem the drift. Help is surely coming the way of the constituency. The people must go to the election prepared. The time calls for the election of credible leaders, those who have shown commitment to the welfare of the people. Out of the medley of aspirants angling to represent Idemili, only someone with track record of commitment to the development of the constituency deserves the vote of the people.

As Honourable Ifeanyichukwu Ibezi has expressed his intention to represent the constituency in 2019, it is important to take a second look at his aspiration in relation to others. If what he has done, even as an outsider is anything to go by, then his manifesto should be taken as a solemn contract with the people. His promise of “emancipation of the largest federal constituency in the South East Nigeria” cannot be doubted if he spearheaded single-handedly ‘Operation Light up’ Idemili North and South even without being a member of the National Assembly. If he could use the instrumentality of the august Assembly to bring solar powered energy to the constituency when the member(s) representing the people couldn’t do anything, then his journey to the National Assembly will surely bring the people the desired democracy dividends. There is no reason to doubt that he would bring infrastructural development, women empowerment, create employment opportunities, work for the youths as well as projects for each of the 17 communities in Idemili North and South LGAs. If he has been able to offer employment to a number of unemployed graduates both in the state and federal civil services there is hope for the common man. The days of lost hope, of misrepresentation are over. If he could facilitate political appointments to some people in the current government of Anambra State, he will do much more at the centre. If he was able to use personal funds to touch the lives of many indigent students, widows and the needy, he will recreate Idemili where graduates will be recommended for high profile jobs, create empowerment programs for women and youths and institute bursary scheme that will cover tuition fees.

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As a person, Ibezi is humble and empathetic. He will not be aloof. He won’t be a fly-by-night politician who is available only when it is election time. He shudders at the thought of calling a town hall meeting once in four years. He will be mindful of the office he bears and will ensure that Idemili, the great home of scholarly icons like Chinua Achebe, Pius Okigbo and his brother Christopher, Emeka Anyaoku etc regains its lost glory. Surely, Ibezi will dare to be different and will bring succor to the constituency. Help is finally on the way for the people of Idemili North/South Federal Constituency.

Anyaduba writes from Abatete in Idemili North LGA, Anambra State