The last vote in the Senate over the electronic transmission of election results is very indicative of how the people of the South-east are being represented in the National Assembly.
Out of the fifteen Senators sent to Abuja to represent the South-east region, only eight of them participated. While two Senators voted No, six Senators voted Yes and seven Senators were absent.
I have always said that the political leaders derive the power and moral right to lead from the consent given to them by the people but given the manner in which these representatives behaved and often behave one would be left to ask if the people actually sent these politicians to represent them. If they were sent to Abuja to represent the people, are they really representing the people or some kind of special interests? If they are representing the people, did their constituencies approve of their choices to abstain or vote no or yes? How did the constituencies get involved in these decisions?
The Igbo people often cry out for the systemic marginalization done on them in Nigeria by having the lowest number of representations, but that would not make them not vote according to the people’s interests. They could use their number as the minority to secure the interests of the region even as underdogs. When the people cry out against their political leaders, it is because of such poor representation as this.
During the debate of allocation for railways, only two Senators reportedly challenged the exclusion of the Eastern corridor from the proposed loan from China Exim Bank. What exceptional way have they represented the people, one may ask? If they were representing the region well, the roads would not be in shambles and they could insist on the standard gauge railway instead of the narrow gauge as purportedly assigned.
It is not out of place to assume they behave this way because they have individually and collective interests to protect. If they are not thinking about their reelection, they are thinking about their position or their interest in seeking for higher positions. With these interests, they do not want to pitch themselves against the powers. These powers may not be the South-east people. If they were the South-east people, they would fear that they may be recalled from their positions by the people. They would sit up and represent the people well. But the people are also ignorant of their powers when they vote because they are given a plate of rice.
A vote when bought does not send a true representation; it becomes a trade and the representatives having bought these votes, do not hold total allegiance to the people. The position they hold has become their property that they can use at their own discretion.
To have a good representation, South-east people have to embark on massive political education in order to take the people off their ignorance and for them to demand that they are represented better.
In defending himself for voting No to the electronic system, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu who served eight years as the governor of Abia state, said there is no network in his village. He would not make such an excuse as it is indicting and shows that if he did his work greatly and having posterity on his mind, his village would have a network. This serves as a good example of the poor work these representatives are doing and yet while Igbo people bemoan the marginalization by the federal government, the quality of the representation by these politicians will be put in perspective. They are also marginalizing the Igbo people.
In the last few days, some of these Senators have released statements defending their actions. They do so in anticipation of exploiting such gestures to garner sympathy and votes when the time comes. These demonstrations of inadequate representation of the people have caused the majority of Igbo people to have low regard for these politicians especially as it regards fighting for the interest of the people.
These politicians have to show commitment to the people and should take decisions based on what the people want. Their personal political interests should not supplant the interests of the millions of people that look up to them to fight and to secure their general interests. Igbo people and the South-east region deserve better than what they get.
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