Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
As the 2019 general elections draw closer, the constituents of Senator Murray Ben-Bruce in Bayelsa-East Senatorial District, Bayelsa State, have said that they will not allow any form of imposition of candidates on the electorate.
They lamented the alleged poor representation by their representative at the Senate.
They, therefore, threw their weight behind Senator Nimi Barigha-Amange, who represented them in the Sixth Senate, saying that it was during Amange’s period in the upper chamber that their people had a robust and quality representation.
Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, an entertainment mogul and Chairman of Silverbird Groups, is the current Senator representing Bayelsa East District in the National Assembly. He took over from Senator Clever Ikisipo, who was in the Senate between 2011 and 2015.
The constituents comprising John Thatcher, David Obodor, Afen Bright, Wilson Abel, Oscar Egberi, Jeff Afagha, Angela Ikokote, Rev. Ranami Afagha, and Atim Atim-King, among others, expressed their positions at a stakeholders’ meeting on Sunday in Nembe, Bayelsa State.
In an address read by Wilson Abel, the constituents urged the electorate in the senatorial district to start thinking of how to produce a worthy, credible and vibrant senator that would bring honour and glory to the district.
They said the new thinking was imperative in order to avoid the mistakes of the past eight years of suffering, cluelessness and ineffective senatorial representation of the people.
The constituents vowed that the district would never accept imposition of “faceless hawks” that had no link with the people they claimed to represent.
They submitted that the people of the district should be allowed to pick whoever they believe could serve them better without imposition of a candidate.
The constituents said, “A district blessed with wealth of inestimable value has nothing to show for it. Rather, the district is seen as the poorest of all the senatorial districts in the state. Our children will one day ask what happened to our oil and gas and the answer will be inexplicable.
“This is because of the non-performing senators picked to represent the district. Whatever we have in the district is through the benevolence of the government of Seriake Dickson, the indisputable leader of the Ijaw nation.
“It is pertinent to mention that the only highway linking Yenagoa, the state capital, with Nembe Local Government Area was facilitated by Dickson. The leaders, as well as the government of Bayelsa State had single-handedly fought for the re-location to the state of oil and gas companies to their operational headquarters.
“But the call has fallen on deaf ears because our senators never tried to add inputs into this demand. As we talk, taxes due the state are rather paid to Lagos and Abuja against our demands.”
They claimed that the only period the district had a qualitative senatorial representation was between 2007 and 2011 when Nimi Barigha-Amange was in the Senate.
They lamented that there were a lot of issues the senators representing them would have handled with all seriousness for the benefit of the people, yet they turned blind eyes to them.
The constituents mentioned the Nembe-Brass road, which they claimed had been on hold for many years, arguing that the project would have opened the entire state to oil terminals in the Brass area with attendant business benefits.
The constituents noted, “Despite billions of naira being appropriated for projects, for the past eight years, no single constituency project had been located in Bayelsa East. Are we not worthy of one or two constituency projects?
“If they claim that we are wrong, let them point at a constituency project they have influenced to the district! Twon Brass, the citadel of Christianity is being washed away gradually by the Atlantic Ocean. The community has cried out, calling for embankment. But the senators representing that district have failed to pursue the project for the people.
“They should also tell us how many appointments they have attracted to the people – none as we know. Even their personal relationship with the people is nothing to write home about. Another area our senators have failed the people is their non-commitment towards the realisation of the Brass LNG, which had been in limbo for so long.”
They contended that effective senatorial representation could have pinpointed the importance of the project to the people and the nation.
They said they gathered that after two years of its final decision for the Brass LNG to go on stream, a blame game within the board and management affected the commencement of the multi-billion dollar project to the detriment of the communities and the government.
The constituents added, “Perhaps they ignored the electorate because of the circumstances of their emergence as candidates, sponsored or imposed on the electorate by their ‘godfathers, and business associates against the will of the people.
“It is this undemocratic procedure that had given them the impunity to disregard their constituencies and this situation is no longer acceptable and the people should be given the opportunity to pick a candidate that would be part of their aspiration and problems.”
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