Spreading the Dividends of Democracy

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The member representing Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, Mr. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, recently staged what has been generally described as the mother of all empowerment initiatives, Bassey Inyang writes

One common trend associated with seekers of elective positions in the nation’s polity is their penchant to make all manner of promises during their campaigns to the electorate in order to win their sympathy and get their votes during elections.

However, it is a general belief that after getting the mandate of the people most of the politicians never keep to the promises they made to the electorate while campaigning.

Cases abound where constituents have complained that their elected representatives have never visited their constituencies since they were elected into the National Assembly.

So, for constituents who have had the experience of their representatives not returning home, even frequently as expected, their conclusion is that they have no representation or representative, in reality, except in name.

However, some of the elected federal lawmakers still maintain close relationship with their constituents; render to them the necessary extra-legislative services.

The representative of Ogoja/Yala Federal Constituency, Mr. Jarigbe Agom Jarigbe, seems to belong to the latter category of elected politicians.

Within his constituency, Jarigbe is reputed to be one of the lawmakers from the state that makes out time, periodically, to visit those he is representing at the grassroots, to consult with them, and supply them with some droplets of what is generally referred to as “economic empowerment.”

On Wednesday, April 18, 2018 in Ogoja, the headquarters of the federal constituency, Jarigbe was with his people, and there, he staged his latest round of economic empowerment programme to improve on the economic well-being of those he represents at the National Assembly.

The empowerment programme staged at the Ogoja Local Government Council ground was the seventh in the series of such activities promoted by Jarigbe.

The latest event brought the number of beneficiaries from his benevolent representation to over 700 since he became a federal lawmaker in 2015.

According to Jarigbe, the empowerment programme was in fulfilling the promise he made to his people while campaigning, and seeking their support, ahead of the election to the lower chamber of the National Assembly in 2015.

Almost immediately after he was inaugurated with his colleagues as a member of the House of Representatives, Jarigbe gave indication that he was serious about giving his people the much needed economic support so, they can fend for themselves, and in the process improve the general economic environment of the constituency.

Consequently, he introduced some special socio-economic enhancement schemes to his constituents, among them; bursary for indigent students in post-primary and tertiary institutions, free computer training programme, entrepreneurial training for youths, and micro-finance facilities for farmers and traders, vocational training for youths and widows, free medical outreach to aged and the less-privileged, and Christmas outreach.

For instance no fewer than 50 youths, male and female; have benefited from skills acquisition programmes sponsored by the lawmaker. At the end of the training, the young men and women would be provided with finical backups ranging from N2.5 million to N5 million from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) backed agricultural training programme.

Added to the 50 youths are at least 200 youths and women, especially widows who have been provided with sewing and grinding machines, generators and driers by the lawmaker, since they had already acquired the necessary skills in various areas.

As a means of facilitating the easy movement of people, goods and services from the rural communities, Jarigbe has provided over 70 motor bikes, and seven cars toward officers, youth leaders, and members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW).

Through his recommendation, Jarigbe has also facilitated the employment of hundreds of people from the federal constituency into Police, Federal Road Safety, Army, Civil Defence Corps, and the Federal Civil Service.

So far, over 700 people have benefited from the Jarigbe’s empowerment programme valued at N100 million since 2015.

However, the latest empowerment progarmme held on the material Wednesday has been described as “mother of all empowerment” because of the number of cars, cash and other life-enhancing items he generously gave to members of the business community, farmers, market women, traders, youths , and some politicians in the constituency.

In all, four cars, 31 brand new motorcycles, 36 sewing machines, 25 grinding machines, and 10 electricity generating sets were distributed free to the beneficiaries.

At the event which also doubled as town hall meeting, thousands of people from the constituency conferred and witnessed how Jarigbe also splashed N10 million cash on some of the beneficiaries of his empowerment programme.

Presenting his welcome address at the occasion, Jarigbe, said: “I humbly presented myself for election before my people, and they voted massively for me. Therefore, I came here to give back what they gave me in 2015 because I am only holding the power on their behalf. What I have done here today cannot be compared to what they have done for me, but this is just the beginning, the best of me is yet to come.

“I am massively grateful to my people, and God willing, the next exercise will be better than this one. I thank them all for the opportunity to represent them and pray that God will meet them all at their respective points of needs.”

Jarigbe enjoined the beneficiaries from his empowerment programme to make judicious use of what they have gotten judicially, and invest wisely so they can grow and teach others how to also fish.

Some dignitaries, among them top government officials also graced the event and spoke glowingly about Jarigbe’s empowerment programme, and described him as “The Man of the People.”

Governor Ben Ayade’s Chief of Staff, Mr. Martins Orim, who spoke at the event, said the lawmaker has set standards as to what empowerment should constitute.

“Jarigbe’s empowerment programme has raised the bar, especially for a first-timer in the House of Representatives. I can tell you that the governor is happy, and impressed that the people who voted him into the parliament are actually the direct beneficiaries.

“From what is happening, any elected representative that does not perform well will be voted out. This office is held in trust for the people and our elected officials need to report to the people as the office is not a personal thing,” Orim said.

The state deputy chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Patrick Ebam, said from what he saw, Jarigbe has demonstrated serious love for his people.

“The lawmaker has attracted 89 projects and empowered hundreds of people, he has given quality representation by coming back to identify with the voters, and enjoined others to borrow a leaf from him.

“This is a total display of sincerity and accountability to his people. He has shown that he not only represents his people, but that he is also close to them, and this people as you can see, believe in him,” Ebam said.

Some of the beneficiaries commented on the empowerment programme, and thanked Jarigbe for being a source of joy to them and putting smiles on their faces.

One of the beneficiaries who gave his name as, Mr. Otem Stephen from Ijiraya ward in Yala Local Government Area, said: “I least expected this from our representative. Besides, nobody has given this type of quality motorcycle as an empowerment, and thank God I got one.”

A lady, 45 years old, Mrs. Cordelier Amana, a beneficiary from Amana-Urban ward in Ogoja Local Government Area, said: “I thank God for what our honourable member has done for me, and my family. He has given me sewing machine, and I will give it to my daughter who just finished learning sewing work.”

Jarigbe has promised that more of such empowerment was still in the offing as more people will benefit in future, saying “what you have seen is just the beginning. Expect more.”