Poor Legislative Representation Worries JDPC Awka Diocese

By Mmaduabuchi Onwumleu

The Justice Development and Peace Caritas, JDPC, Awka Diocese, has stressed the need for quality and people oriented legislative representation.

Addressing newsmen in Awka, the Executive Director, JDPC, Awka Diocese, Rev Fr Levi Ukor, called for a rethink over what he called poor legislative representation in Anambra State.

The press briefing, according to Fr Ukor, was in line with the mandate of their community development project tagged Community Legislative Interactive Platform – CLIP, which, he said, was funded by the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, CAFOD, and supported by the Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria, CCFN.

‘Over the past four years, JDPC Awka has been at the fore front of promoting effective relationship between the legislators and the community members in order to ensure quality representation and impactful policies that will deepen good governance among the citizens.

‘As a result of this, we have carried out series of town hall meetings, advocacies and interventions to ensure that the legislators pay proper attention to their constituencies and address their needs in line with the many promises they made to them during the campaigns of the 2019 elections.

‘Campaigns are here again and as usual, the politicians will come again with their promises. In the spirit of the CLIP Project that focuses on the legislators, I implore you to see this season as another opportunity to take another look at the qualities of the candidates parading themselves to represent your constituency in the next dispensation.

‘For those who were there before, going for another term, it is time to develop the courage to ask them of their score cards. Have they fulfilled their promises, have they moved motions that have transformed your life and made things easy for your communities? These and other questions you should have at the back of your minds as you make your choice.

‘As for those who are running for the first time, can you trust them with your votes? What are their track records? How do you perceive them? What are their sources of livelihood and many more,’ he elaborated.

The Executive Director said that recently, JDPC Awka CLIP Team gave out 12 suggestion boxes and banners to be positioned in various public places in communities, noting that it was to ensure that the community members took advantage of the boxes to express their thoughts about quality representation by their legislators.

‘This time you can approach your candidates with those demands that can bring development to your communities face to face.

‘Furthermore, as part of the mandate of the CLIP Project, JDPC Awka CLIP Team conducted a sample poll to find out how many of the legislators have constituency offices. We can proudly say that as at 2019, out of twelve of them, just about three had constituency offices, but with the intensified efforts of the CLIP Project Team, the other twelve now have, making it twelve over twelve. But also note that presently Awka Diocese has nine constituencies with the creation of Ekwulobia Diocese from Awka Diocese.

‘In view of this achievement, it is your responsibility to make sure you follow up with your legislators not to convert these constituency offices into campaign offices.  We thank God for the amendment of the Electoral Act and the introduction of BVAS, a machine that has been created to produce a free, fair, credible election,’ Fr Ukor said.

He said it was not the time for engaging in vote buying and snatching of ballot papers, but time for people to make good use of their conscience, participate fully in the electoral process and wait for the votes to be counted.

‘Furthermore, as the campaigns begin, look out for the manifestoes and work plans of the candidates and ensure you scrutinize them critically to know how sincere they are. Don’t just focus on the monetary benefits of the campaign but be wise,’ he said.

Fr Ukor thanked the Catholic Bishop of Awka Diocese, His Lordship Most Rev Paulinus Ezeokafor, for ‘his unflinching support throughout this CLIP project’, and also appreciated all the JDPC members and volunteers and reminded them that they had a very important role to play in the forthcoming elections.

He said that JDPC in Nigeria had a mandate to observe the elections and assured that they would continue to help the people develop capacity in that regard.