NZIKO AND UKO: AN OPEN LETTER TO HONOURABLE PAULINUS OBICHUKWU, ANAMBRA STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
Dear Hon. Obichukwu Paulinus,
I have been following recent happenings in my town Nteje most especially as it concerns the Nziko and Uko farm settlements in Nteje, Anambra State.
During the recently concluded voter’s registration, Nigerian media was awash with reports of registration centres being discovered in an evil forest in Nteje. The raid was led by Deputy Governor of Anambra State alongside INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner Prof. Onukaogu.
To my uttermost disbelief, Daily Sun reported on the 9th of March (today) that you personally conducted newsmen round the controversial Farm settlement. In the report, you were quoted to have said that the said area is a farm settlement with a population of 4,000 people. You also claimed in the report that the only thing evil about the place is the fact that they have no schools, Health facilities owing to government negligence. It will interest the readers to note that this is a government you are part of, having been ‘elected’ to represent Oyi State constituency under which the controversial farm settlement is, since 1999 to 2003 and from 2007 to date. While I agree with you that the areas in question are not evil forest, I disagree with you that the inhabitants of the settlement have about 4000 population.
Truth be told, you know very well that these ‘villages’ are mere farm settlement. Correct me if I am wrong, your recent visit to the Nziko and Uko was your first visit to the Area. This means that I am in a better position to educate you about the area owing to the fact that most of my family’s agricultural activities are done there. It is also instructive that prior to my University days, I have been involved in farming in the area .You also know very well that most of the people who farm there do so on temporary basis.
As I write now, my mother has been there for the past two days. But just like any other person that farms there, she does not live there. They only go there for a few days ranging from 2-3 days as they always return to Nteje.
I also know for sure that none of the people farming there - including my mother - are registered in these locations as voters as they are all registered at their various units in Nteje.
One wonders how you arrived at the 4,000 figure you are bandying about since it is known that the number of people farming in these area from Nteje cannot be more than 500. Even at that, none of them is registered in the farm settlement as they are all registered in their different units in Nteje since they have never seen voting materials meant for this area even though election results are declared for this area after every election.
The area in question has been a great threat to credible elections in Nteje since 1998. Election materials meant for these localities have always been hijacked by politicians and taken to private residences where they collude with some willing INEC and Security Officials to thumb print on the ballot papers and get the ballot boxes stuffed!
No wonder since 1999 to date, the living conditions in Nteje and environs have deteriorated yet we have ‘elected’ representatives like you. Access roads in the villages are in sorry state, no medical facilities, teaming youth unemployment, high crime rate, low enrolment in school to mention but a few.
I decided to write you because I remember living with you as my In-law during my University Years in Awka. I also remember how ‘religious’ you were moving from one Church to another, I equally remember that every morning in those days we start our day with prayers. Also, I remember that you normally preach in a number of Churches we attended together. My in-law, how has things got this bad? Is it because of wealth and power? Where are your Christian values? Is this how you want to bring up your two kids? What legacies do you want to leave behind? Have you ever bothered to ask yourself what would be the reaction of your kids when they grow up to learn that their father might have been involved in election rigging? Don’t you realise that the instrument of power is very temporarily and as a result should be used to further the course of the society? Now that you are not returning to the House of Assembly in the next dispensation having been there for eight years (1999-2003, 2007-2011) are you satisfied with the living conditions of your constituents?
To me, you represented a new breed of leaders with high morals and integrity. I remember boasting to a Friend who told me of many shady things people like you do in order to get to power during your first tenure at the Anambra State House of Assembly between 1999 and 2003. I had sworn that you were not part of these people, little did I knew I was naive.
Permit me My Dear Honourable and My in-law to correct one impression here; I am from Nteje and I love my beloved town. And I am ready to do anything to emancipate and develop my people. I am not in anyway against getting more wards legitimately allocated to Nteje community. However, what I will never support is allocating wards to areas where people do not live. This is because experience has shown that election materials meant for these areas are always hijacked by power hungry politicians whose only aim is how to perpetuate themselves in power to the detriment of the communities they seek to represent.
I therefore call on you and your groups to desist from any act capable of dragging the needed development of Nteje backward.
Long Live Nteje!
Long live Government and People of Anambra State!!
Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Charles Ifeanyi Nweke is a Masters Student of Development Studies (International Political Economy and Development), International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, The Hague, The Netherlands.