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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Ekene S. Imelikachi: Community mobilization and development, imperatives of citizens’ participation

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When we talk about government at the grassroot, we are simply referring to government’s presence, by way of development in areas at the local level. In clearer terms, it entails bringing social amenities to the doorsteps of rural and semi-urban dwellers.

The provision of cottage hospitals, community health centres, trunk roads, etc fall under the remit of local government authorities/area councils. The benefits of these facilities to rural dwellers cannot be over-emphasized. Even the Federal Government has every incentive to aggressively complement local authorities in grassroot development, as it helps to decongest the city centre, reduce pressure on infrastructure, and evenly spread development.

That is the ideal scenario.

Sadly, the reality is the exact opposite of what is obtainable in a society that works. We need not rehash the facts, as we all are at the receiving end.

How did we get here? Years of neglect and non-responsive leadership by successive governments at all levels have produced the undesirable outcomes of failed and deteriorating roads, rationing of electricity and in some cases, blackouts, lack of access to healthcare and electricity, just to mention a few.

Every Nigerian is virtually a government of themselves, to themselves and for themselves. You fix your roads, procure back-up generators to power your homes, provide your security to guard your homes against criminals, drill boreholes and dig wells to source for water, the list is endless. New political term alert: SELFTOCRACY.

Those are the responsibilities of government. We all know that. But the core question is, should citizens continue to fold their hands and wait endlessly for government? Certainly, that is a big NO.

As citizens, we have a myriad of options open to us. One of which is voting right to effect the change we seek and desire. Two is persistent advocacy to push government to live up to their responsibilities. The third is Citizens’ participation in grassroot development by contributing their own quota towards the realization of our collective goals and aspirations.

Citizens’ participation entails everyone putting their hands on the plow and deck in driving change for accelerated development, engendered peace, and unfettered progress.

In other words, while we use our voice to speak out against bad governance, our legs to kick out poorly-performing office holders by thumbing for the right leaders, we must also, more importantly, utilize our hands to work towards a much-improved community, a better society and a greater Nigeria.

Without waiting for government, citizens should do more in volunteerism, by carrying out environmental sanitation, opening up blocked drainages, fixing potholes in their immediate and nearby environment, inculcating ‘ownership philosophy’ through sensitization against vandalism and protection of critical assets and infrastructure, and fundraising drive for community projects. These would go a long way in making our communities more livable and conducive.

Has your community felt your impact, presence and inputs? Are there indelible contributions you made that changed the outlook of your street? Ponder on these.

Ekene S. Imelikachi,Secretary General
Pmagbe Layout Landlords Association (PLAN)

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