I have been reading posts on this platform and other related platforms with focus on Bende for some time now. I have also made a few interventions on some of the issues under discussion. I will be strong to affirm that majority of us committed to doing the right thing the wrong way. This should not be if we are really pursuing the upliftment of Bende as we so regularly profess.
Using performance in governance as a barometer for comparison of people, individuals or governments, we have so visibly insulted and lampooned Bende leaders when actually we ought to encourage them to sit and do well. There are no two individuals that are the same but we have lumped our political representatives together and delivered collective bashing on them without properly appraising them and situating their circumstances as they objectively are.
It is true that Bende is at the back waters of development and we are not unaware why the federal constituency is encumbered by underdevelopment. We also know individuals that presided over the raping, violation and liquidation of our commonwealth over the years beginning from our living memory of 1999 to date.
Our problem in Bende is not party but the lack of will to do the needful. Yet, we deliberately foist inappropriate comparisons on the people by passing ‘death sentence’ on all individuals of Bende extraction that are/was in political office.
In destroying Bende, we are quick in attacking and insulting our selves for no reason; we are quick to see everything from the pigeon hole of politics; we are quick to conclude all leaders are bad and underperforming; we are not slow in showing hatred to one another. But I will want to ask ‘are we still brothers’?
The choice of words Bende people use on themselves remain most painful and condemnable. Not long ago some leaders on sundry Bende platforms exited from the groups rightly or wrongly but it is important to note that development is a conscious act, not driven by luck but a clearly crafted agenda matched with positive will to actualize same. It is this conscious attitude of leaders on development matched by verifiable will that is lacking now in Bende until the arrival of the Oracle–Benjamin Kalu (as he is now referred to by House members).
Casting aspersions on leaders is now a pleasurable pastime. If we want Dr Hagler Okorie and his team to functionally deliver to Bende, support and encourage them irrespective of your political affiliations just as the others.
In all of this and without doubt, I want to submit and rightly too that Hon. Ben Kalu might just be one of the very few politicians that prepared for the office he is presently occupying. This explains the worry of many when innuendos of incompetence and underperformance are directed at him. He remains the most vibrant and articulate legislator that emerged in recent memory from our clime these parts. Unknown to many but he didn’t hide it all this while, the Oracle has a blue print for Bende as espoused by him throughout the campaign period.
Early this morning, conversations, contestations, comparisons and arguments on the payment of WAEC fees for Bende children dominated many platforms. While many tried to compare Ben Kalu to Uko Nkole, others tried to draw a differentiation map between him and Ossy Prestige and Nkiru Onyeaguocha. It’s TRUE we all e hold our freedom of speech rights, but such rights should be expressed outside the confines of ignorance and deliberate misrepresentation. If we are in doubt of any situation, asking questions for clarification is yet to be criminalized.
One clear issue necessitating my intervention is to set the records right on a few not ALL initiatives of Ben Kalu especially his intervention in the education sector. I am doing this as the Chairman of the Education Support Initiative for Ben Kalu Foundation that supervises his education matters in the constituency.
Three clearly conceived and articulated education empowerment initiatives in Ben Kalu’s Bende Blueprint was the bursary and scholarship award for 400-500 undergraduates of Bende origin, annual payment of WAEC and JAMB fees and the establishment of a tertiary institution in Bende. The mere conception and articulation of these ideas is not just novel but indicative of an intent to go beyond the deceptive rhetorics often associated with political office and their occupants.
Moving forward and in obvious step to follow a different pathway, Ben Kalu caused it to happen as 400 Bende indigenes became scholarship beneficiaries very late last year. While many enjoyed the benefits of xmas, I chaired sundry meetings on the logistics of paying WAEC and JAMB fees for Bende children this new year. In a very short while, this will also become history. And this month, between 19 and 20th February, 2020, select students from twenty secondary schools in Bende will have incredible opportunity to be trained and retrained in several skill acquisition fields by skilled professionals from Abuja and later rewarded by way of empowerment.
Furthermore, efforts at attracting federal tertiary institution is in full gear along with licences for the establishment of private institutions by Bende sons and daughters.
I have so far limited myself to education but other areas of Ben Kalu’ s intervention abound. Agriculture, infrastructure name it and in a space of 6 months. What do we expect from a first term legislator who has obviously surpassed expectations of friends and foes alike. For the few that are unhappy and unsatisfied, Ben Kalu is receptive to new ideas on moving Bende forward.
Plagiarism maybe common in universities and other tertiary institutions but it is also not in short supply in political spaces. The Bende development Blueprint is in the public domain and anybody is free to copy and replicate in their respective environments. It’s never late for them but it only raises deep worries why nobody have conceived the idea of WAEC fees before now that the Oracle enlisted it in his Blueprint. It’s all good for democracy as many have woken up from a long and sustained slumber as evidenced in the payment of WAEC fees but sadly the repository of knowledge or indeed the ‘ideas bank’ from where all these came from cannot be cloned. I wish to admonish us to be calm as Ben Kalu’s belief in BENDE FIRST is unshakable.
For me as a person being a University teacher, I maybe at home with some of Hon. Ben Kalu’s approaches to issues of critical importance. But such approach may not be politically profitable if you like.
Hon. Ben Kalu has been calm and silent on so many things he’s involved in since he went to Abuja. Yes, he just might be a silent worker but many would prefer to know his every move and action. For instance, the appointment of at least 40 aides whose salaries will start running this month is not in the public domain at least for now and he is not saying a word about it. This has never happened in Bende before now. What we are used to was the appointment of one or two persons from outside Bende as PAs and pronto numerous consequences follow. Removing 40 adults from the unemployment market is no mean feat and cumulatively, in 6 months, this Nigerian Oracle from Bende would have removed about 70 people from the agonies of want.
For the pride, promotion and elevation of Bende, the ongoing initiative of mass producing BENDE RICE and making it a national brand has reached advanced stage with broad interest from diverse quarters. The quantum of benefits from the establishment of Bende rice is better imagined including but limited to employment opportunities. Yet, Hon Ben Kalu is making no noise about all of this. He is just silent. I will not know why. It’s true that a tiger must not necessarily display its tigritude but for appraisal that is unavoidable in situations as this, it is important that the scorecard of a performer must of necessity be on public display.
The consolation, I believe should be that in due season and at the appropriate time, the silent but salient interventions of Hon Ben Kalu will be attested to by all who know.
I remain your brother:
Prof. Victor Ukaogo