By Mohammed Salihu
The recent constituency tour and town-hall meetings of Senator Sadiq Suleiman Umar (3SU), which was done across the five local governments of Kwara North Senatorial District, is a rare political tradition that is being introduced by the Senator; with the aim of strengthening the relationship between the elected leaders and the electorates, enhance accountability, commitment to service delivery and effective representation by the leaders in line with the expectations of the electorates. it is hoped that this innovative (so to say) but necessary democratic tradition will be encouraged and entrenched by lovers of democracy within the senatorial district and, perhaps, across the state.
The series of events undertaken by the Senator which, as a whole, can be adjudged to be unprecedented, has once again shown that 3SU is an embodiment of true representation, with a commitment to providing dynamic leadership in line with global democratic practices.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, there has never been an elected political representative in the Senatorial district or, perhaps, in the state that has made it a point of duty to dedicate a particular period of time to go round his/her constituency or senatorial district for a post-election thank-you visits and town-hall meetings, or to directly feel the pulse of the people, hear first-hand from them, get to know their needs and expectations and, where necessary, touch base with other elected leaders as the case may be.
On the contrary, what we were familiar with was politicians disappearing after winning elections and reappearing when it is time to seek re-election into same or new offices, a practice 3SU is trying to correct by informally institutionalizing constituency visits, at least twice a year. This is a commitment he already made to the people during the tour. Hence, the onus is now on the people of the senatorial district to grab the opportunity by encouraging and entrenching such a rare but necessary democratic practice in our clime.
That the four-day event took place during the legislative recess of the National Assembly was not by accident; for it is a period when legislatures are expected to attend to committee activities, carry out oversight functions, visit their constituents or go on vacation, among other activities which the weekly plenary would not permit. As for 3SU, he chose to spend part of his legislative recess to engage with his constituents, getting the necessary feedback that will adequately prepare him for the next legislative session. The events happened across locations in Patigi, Edu, Kaiama, Moro and Baruten local government areas; with the people showering encomiums and commendation upon the Senator for his performance during his first tenure, the basis upon which they cast their ballots for him a second time. Now, a brief of the engagements across the LGAs:
The series of events that characterized the Patigi tour kicked off at the hall building coincidentally facilitated by the Senator. With speaker after speaker taken to the floor to highlight the challenges of their various wards and communities requiring the attention of the lawmaker. But of all the speakers, a lady stood out with her display of courage. She told the Senator that her people were tired of receiving empowerment items; but would instead prefer many of the idle youths of the Local Government be assisted with gainful employment.
Interestingly, there was also a presentation and submission to the Senator by representatives of a community forum, Patigi Municipal Forum (PMF). It was a well articulated and comprehensive two-page document, signed by Alhaji Dabarako Mohammed (Garkuwan Patigi). The document contained the diverse needs across various sectors and communities, including major ones like the Share- Patigi Road (with special attention to Kuyi Bridge); Bidu-Sanchi-Nupeko-Patigi Road with a Bridge at Nupeko-Patigi; Patigi-Kpada Road and Patigi-Egbe Road.
There were also request for the provision of Solar Power System at Patigi New Water Works, completion of Kpada Water Works, completion of Lade Water Works, renovation of Health Care facilities at Kpada, Rogun, Lade and Ndanaku, reawakening of Sub-Step Down Station at Patigi for stabilisation and distribution of electricity to the entire Patigi Local Government, Provision of GSM network masts for Cekpan District, completion and equipping of CBT Centre in Patigi among others.
The second port of call after Patigi was Lafiagi, Edu Local Government. Just as he did in Patigi, the Senator’s first point of call was the palace of Emir of Lafiagi, Alhaji Mohammed Kudu Kawu to pay homage; a protocol required of any dignitary visiting any community of such.
Having being briefed about the Senator’s mission, the Royal Father in his remarks expressed his knowledge regarding the plight of his people, and he never minced his words while conveying such to his guest Senator. Starting with the challenges of roads, which the Emir acknowledged is the bane across Kwara North, but peculiar to Edu according the Traditional Leader, are some of the township roads and feeder roads across the many villages of the local government. Some of the roads which include but not limited to; Gbugbu to Ganagagi village, Lafiagi to Lade, through Lalagi village, Zambufu to Shegbe-Oke Ode leading to Offa. Others are Gbugbu to Cheko Shaaban passing through Gamaleg village road, more so the need to make it easier for his people to have access to the Ferris by making the road motorable.
The Royal Father continued with other aspects they will be needing intervention, such as electricity, solar power, ecological intervention, completion of Lafiagi Community radio, rehabilitation of the Lafiagi Stadium complex and the upgrade and conversion of College of Education Technical, Lafiagi to a Federal higher institution. The climax of the Emir’s speech was the mention of Kwara North aspiration for 2027 state governorship, warning that the goal can only be achieved with a united front across various divides in the senatorial district. The Traditional Leader further underscored the fact that Senator Sadiq should play the leadership role of bringing everyone on-board in the pursuit of the 2027 agenda. These were also most of the issues presented at the town-hall meeting which took place at the Local Government Council Chamber in Lafiagi
In Moro Local Government, the event took place at the multi-purpose of NEF camp in Shao, Moro Local Government, symbolised a renewed hope in the political sphere of the people. For it provided an opportunity for the factional groups in the local government especially of the APC folds, who had been at lugger-head prior to election to come together to discuss issues that were of common interests and benefits to the generality of the people the local government.
The town-hall meeting in Shao, Moro local government was also unique in a way, as there was a consensus among the people that each wards of the local government should collate their various needs and forward them to the local government APC Chairman for onward delivery to the Senator, the consensus was against the backdrop that there may not be enough time for the town-hall meeting to allow for comprehensive presentation of their needs.
Be that as it may, some stakeholders of the local government never allowed the opportunity passed-by without highlighting some of their pressing needs such as the need for feeder roads connecting several of their communities, electricity, health centres, employment opportunities for the youths and empowerment and grant for women, political appointments at the federal level among others.
To be continued