Michael West: How to use Constituency Fund
Hon. Michael West is a member of the Rivers State House of Assembly representing Asari-Toru Constituency 2. His name is not a household name in Nigeria, perhaps due to his tranquil nature devoid of eye service, but he is a household name in the Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State. Its headquarters are in the town of Buguma. It has an area of 113 km² and a population of 220,100, as at the 2006 census. The postal code of the area is 504. Asari-Toru is the home town of personality like the Professor of Virology, Professor Tam David-West, a former Minister of petroleum. The axiom that a prophet is not recognized in his home land, is a drivel when Michael West is mentioned to the people of Asari-Toru. He is recognized in his homeland and extended to the entire Ijaw nation in the Niger Delta region.
In the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon. Michael West is not a House Officer; he is just a House Committee Chairman on community matter. He came to the House in 2003, after contesting for the Chairmanship of Asari-Toru Local Govt. Area for a good number of three times and didn't emerge winner because, not that his people didn't recognize him, but because he was coming from a humble background and hadn't huge finance to meet the necessary demands of the people before one could pass an election as at that time, which was wont in the Nigerian political parlance.
Hon. Michael West's first one year in office, he returned home and surprised his people. The surprise was to ask them for lands he could erect structures for the community. His people were amazed, asking him where and how he got the money that he wanted to erect the structures with. This was because they assumed that what Hon. Michael West's predecessor couldn't do for the number of four years he was in the House, was what Michael wants to do in just a year he was in the House.
He was embarrassed and had to tell them that when he got in the House, there is money given to them called Constituency Fund. That was what he has come back home to develop his town with. On hearing that, the people's eyes were widely open, asking each other: Does it mean that Michael's predecessor was not given this Constituency Fund or what?
Against that backdrop, many people said that Michael's predecessor hoodwinked them and cannot boast of any Constituency Project he did with the Constituency Fund for a period of four years. Some said that, what Michael's predecessor had done are the ways of Nigerian politicians: They eat money meant for their people and constituencies they were supposed to collectively help. On hearing that Michael has come home to utilize the Constituency Fund, his predecessor placed a call on him, and jokingly said, “Michael, coming home to utilize your Constituency Fund would expose me as a traitor because the people never knew that there was money the government gives every House member for his or her Constituency development”. Michael didn't give a hoot to the cruel advise from his predecessor, he proceeded to working in his community.
There are seven communities that made up Asari-Toru Constituency 2. This is from wards 7-13. The communities have other adjoining communities in many of them. Michael is utilizing the Constituency Fund in.
His people are proud of him as he has built seven befitting Memorial Halls in number in the following compounds:
1. Horsefall Compound
2. Tom-West Compound
3. Wokoma Compound
4. Atiegoba Compound
Against that backdrop, Michael built the Memorial Halls that provisions of accommodation were upstairs for each of the Compounds paramount rulers to live in. The neighbouring Ido Community Town is also agog with Michael, as he even extended the development to them, without minding whose constituency it was. The following Compounds, which heads are as mentioned above are in jubilation, as their own Compounds befitting Memorial Halls are under construction. They are as follows:
1. Douglas Compound
2. Cottrel Compound
3. Jackrich Compound
4. Lilly-West Compund
5. Egede-West Compound
6. William-West Compound
7. Chetam Compound
Apart from building these expensive and expansive Memorial Halls, Michael's people would always attest for him, in anything. They see him and profess that he is not a man who debases the financially handicapped. He makes sure that whoever that knows him or he knows that come in contact with him anywhere, must feel the embrace of his handshake, unlike many of his colleagues that have ostracised themselves from the public in the name of protecting their political ego.
Never was Hon. West a Devil, but the axiom that the Devil one knows is better than the Angel one doesn't know replayed in him as the Horsefall Compound unanimously agreed that he goes for a second term to the House of Assembly with its own slot, according to the rotation of political office holding in the area. They see him as a true son of the Ijaw nation who has contributed to them more than expected of him and still contributing beyond their imagination. One man rightly put it, “I don't think that Michael can boast of N3m by the way he is using money in the development of the Asari-Toru Constituency 2”.
Hon. Michael West has written his name in gold. He is a prophet recognized in his homeland. He is paying all the aged widows in his Constituency monthly salary and has not failed to pay since 2003 he assumed office. He has given scholarship to youths and is still giving. His people have always loved him since he was elected a House Assembly member. When his mother died, the entire Niger Delta region stood still, paying their last respect to the mother of the man whose endeavours have brought envy to his likes. Hon. Michael West deserves commendation in any political quarter. If his people thought that he has performed credibly well as a House Assembly member, what will they say if he becomes the Asari-Toru Local Government Area chairman? Wouldn't development reach the nooks and crannies of Asari-Toru and the grassroots people feel the presence of democracy? But the problem is, if Hon. Michael West would want to contest the Asari-Toru Local Government Area chairmanship after the present administration of Mr. Flag Amachree who is doing well as Chairman of Asari-Toru Local Government Area. The ball is in Hon. Michael West's court to consider whether or not he would contest for the Asari-Toru Local Government Area chairmanship.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Poet/Author, Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Rivers State. Mobile: +2348032552855. Email: [email protected]