The Creation Of Development Charter For Electoral Re-Engineering

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If the electorates’ political decision will determine positively their economic wellbeing in this country, the community members should begin to itemize and identify their needs before the next election year draws near for a more result-oriented election of credible leaders.

History has continued to repeat itself because people, especially historians themselves have refused to learn from it nor even cross-check issues around the incidence of the history.

In a bid to better democracy to deliver on its intentions ab initio, I was jolted out of my concentration by the novel initiatives and programme of a Non Governmental Organization, known as Development Dynamics based in Imo state, when it conducted a research across 18 communities in the three senatorial zones of the state, where it was able to understand the needs, aspirations, demands and positions of the communities using the community members themselves.

The intention of the programme was to develop a community development charter, otherwise called village book where all the political needs and aspirations of the communities can easily be sited and drawn without having to run from pillar to post looking for what to present to the duty bearers/elected leaders when they come canvassing for votes in the next election.

The Programme Officer of Development Dynamics, Dr. Jude Ohanele who has been having sleepless nights ensuring that the country develops in line with its counterpart in the world in one of those formal launching and presentation of the development charter/village book in Oforala, Umuoma-Nekede and Umuguma communities of Owerri West local government area of Imo posited that the essence of the charter was to ensure that the community members, especially the youths, women and persons with disabilities engage their duty bearers to bring the necessary development to the areas.

Ohanele noted that the project which is under Strengthening Citizens Engagement Electoral Process (SCEEP) with support from UKAID and ActionAID is working in 18 communities across the three zones of Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe to kick start a process where the community members will facilitate and engage their leaders to bring the needed community development as will be presented by them and not the ones the leaders/duty bearers decide to bring for them. He said that the charter/village book should serve as a tool for engagement and not for confrontation.

He posited that the village book will enable them to get involved in electoral process, adding that after the bible and Quran, the most sacred paper is the ballot papers which he said determines the prosperity or poverty of the people. Ohanele hinted that with the charter, the communities were able to understand what their problems are especially that some of them have prioritized their needs. He insisted that real development can only come when communities get what they want and not what the politicians want.

The people of Oforola, Umuoma-Nekede and Umuguma of Owerri West were asked to engage their Traditional Rulers, the elected leaders and every other stakeholders to push development to the area, especially that some of them have itemized their needs in the charter/village book. They were equally asked not to be violent nor be confrontational in their demand for community development, but to continue to demand for their rights until something happens.

They were also charged to always work with those in diaspora to draw development to the area, as according to him, they have expendable resources. The people of Umuozu, Amaigbo and Abajah communities of Nwangele Local Government area were not left of the launching of the charter.

The essence of the charter which was conducted under the watch of Development Dynamics who are concentrating on reduction of poverty and violence of any sort was to make sure that alleviation of poverty starts from using the ballot papers which is the only instrument to enthrone good governance in the country.

There is need for citizens to begin to provide politicians with their needs and insist that those demands are met in the course of leadership. The era of those seeking votes to razzmatazz the electorates with the usual campaign glossolalia has gone. Community members, especially traditional rulers, president generals, town union leaders must sit together with the person seeking their votes, where they will present the development charter/village book and ascertain/draw strong commitment from the man seeking to be voted on the contents of the charter.

Some communities have problems of electricity, road, water, skill acquisition around their communities. With the coming of the charter, the politicians can no longer deceive the citizenry with building bridge even where there is no river. This is time to get back to business of governance that will provide for the people what they really need and not what the politicians want or think is good for the communities. There, you can find community-based development that will transform some of the communities to sub-urban areas.

According to Dr. Jude Ohanele, no real development can be seen across the country, especially in Imo state without giving the communities what they desire based on their needs vis-à-vis the village book. The community development charter has to become a bowel of needs of the people where those seeking for votes will need to drink from if they must win the election and not in running from one place to another speaking in discordant and discontent tunes.

For me, what those seeking to occupy elective positions do during campaigns are ‘singing lullabies’ so that the citizens can remain sleepy while the tenure elapses. But I dare to say that with this community development charter launched by the Development Dynamics, the electorates can be sure that they will be awake, going through the rectos and versos of the development which the politician has upheld, to ensure that the needs of the community members are brought to bear.

The objectives of the community development charter/village book are to identify and document the issues affecting the community. It will also provide a plan for the community’s engagement with the duty bearers. It will build confidence of the community to make development demands from their representatives. It enables the communities to publicize their experience, knowledge and aspiration of community in one document for easy perusal.

I call on the community leaders to begin to queue up and in with the new trend of providing viable and workable document for electorates to make wise choices in the next general election. Once upon a time begins a story. It is not late to change the dimension and narratives of development. No government can succeed without planning through the prism of the needs of the community members. The NGO has made the work easy for the governments as they can buy the idea, wholesale or better still partner the inventors for sustainable development. This is my contribution in developing my dear country.

Chigozie Uzosike (JP), Development Journalist, writes from Abuja, [email protected]

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Articles by Chigozie Uzosike