By James Ibechi
Although politicians were not in the radar of the organizers of the just held Igede Agba public lecture — as this was evident in their exclusion from the get-go to the end of the event — yet, they constituted the major issue in the front burner by the time interactions and deliberations were in full swing.
Indeed, Mr. Andyson Iji Egbodo who emerged Coordinator of Igede Progressives Network (IPN), the group that called for the intellectual event, in collaboration with Igede youths under the aegis of Igede National Youth Council (INYC), had said during the event that it was no fluke that no politician worthy of note attended the lecture, adding that their exclusion from participating in the event was a deliberate act, not only to ward off thinking in some quarters that the event had a political undertone or influence, but also to send strong signals that Igede people especially the youths and the elders had been disappointed by the present political class.
But the Chairman of the occasion and Ojikpururu 1 of Ibilla, who is also Chairman, Middle Belt Traditional Council (MBTC) South West Nigeria, Ambassador Ochi Ode Emmanuel, had mildly faulted the exclusion of politicians.
According to the High Chief, politicians should have been invited to be part of the lecture as a way to get them to feel the pulse and worries of the people against them and their performances.
That way, he said, they would have taken a word home, as to where to make amend for the good of Igedeland.
That was not to say, however, that Amb. Ochi had passed a vote of confidence on the Igede political class. No way. The man who had never hidden his hatred for the Nigerian brand of politics — not Igede politics alone — yesterday at the lecture took a strong swipe on the present political class.
Chief Ochi, in his usual fashion, said Igede politicians especially the elective office holders had over the years been displaying gross and tragic ignorance of what their duty is. A situation, he said, which has manifested in the emasculation and impoverishment of Igede majority and the land. “That’s why socio-political and economic development has eluded Igedeland for long,” he had submitted partially.
The man who took Igede politicians to the cleaner, did not forget to teach them what politics and representation entail in essence.
“Politicians should know that they are public servants. As such, they must be accountable to the people; they are there to perform community service; they are community servants.
“Instead, what Igede typical politician does is self-representation. To them, politics is about their pocket. To them, selfish interest is the basis of involvement in politics.” He blamed the situation on absence of political education, greed on the part of the politicians.
The integrity ambassador had frowned at such a parochial understanding of leadership, politics, governance and representation among the Igede few who parade themselves in the leadership of a people known for their honesty, hardwork, hospitality and integrity.
While urging that overall development of Igedeland must be foremost in the mind of everyone, and must intulstigate, he disabused the poverty and minority mentality of the people.
Chief Ochi who was honored by IPN, for making him Grand Patron of the group, had also harped on the need for transparency and accountability on the part of the leaders of the body, promising to support the propagation of the word that was to go out from the lecture.
In the lecture well attended by dignitaries, youths and members of the general public, two papers were delivered by Chief Frank Alochu and Engr. Ben Obega. While Alochu delivered the star paper titled ” Igede Economic and Political Realities: The Way Forward,” Obega’s lecture which he delivered extempore bordered politics. Details of the lectures will be published.
Organizers of the event had hinted that the lecture was a launchpad for its planned radio programme that will soon start airing beginning on Joy FM, Otukpo.