By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
As the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa set to rob minds with Deltans through town hall meeting scheduled to commence Tuesday May 9, 2017 at Isoko Local Government Areas, the people are looking forward to having a fruitful and result oriented meeting.
One, is however forced to be skeptical about town hall meetings in the Nigeria polity going by past records and experiences. Town hall meeting in the Nigerian system seems to be a normal outing of which no one bothers about the end result or the impact of such meetings. Town hall meeting in Nigeria is more or less like one of those meetings where the talking and request are made and thereafter outcomes of such requests are dumped in the dustbin probably right at the venue of such meetings.
Ordinarily, town hall meeting should be a platform through which government activities and programmes are taken to the people at the grassroots and government in return receives the people; a platform through which the government meet directly with the electorates and know their immediate needs and what they are passing through, but unfortunately these so called town hall meetings have not in practical terms yielded any meaningful result so far.
Town hall meeting is not new to Nigerians as recorded in the past administrations particularly the immediate past government, where the government used some of her best brains to inform the electorates on her intended policies, sold her ideas and presented all sorts of promises, and the electorates in return poured out their minds and grievances about the government. It was indeed an avenue for the then government to make change where necessary and opportunity for a high performance. If whether the government really used the feedbacks from the meetings as guide in governance is a question begging for answer.
Recently, with a view to ascertaining the level of development and reason for the continued militancy in the Niger Delta region, the Federal Government, using Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as her machinery, embarked on a town hall meeting across the region. The town hall meeting was held across the state capitals and notable cities and the Vice President and his hosts were seen discussing salient issues and even proffering solution to some of the challenges in their deliberations. The positive change or changes these meetings have brought to the region are still scantly, if at all there is any.
Similarly, governors of different states in this present government have also organized town hall meetings yet the status quo seems to be maintained.
Consequently, as Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa set to join the league of ‘Town Hall Organizers Governors forum’, serious effort must be made to ensure that, the town hall meeting set to kick start Tuesday May 9 is not one of those town meetings where discussions are seemly consigned to the waistbin spontaneously. Purpose of the meetings must be clearly spelt out hence it must be result oriented. Any agent of deviation from the real purpose of this meeting must be dealt with. It must be therefore sounded to all concerned that town hall meeting is not avenue to campaign or an opportunity for electioneering by any political aspirant. It is for delibration between the govern and governed.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa must put all government apparatus who would take note of all raised issues without missing any point into place. This would go a long way in planning reasonable for the electorates. Town hall meeting is a platform through which the yearnings of the people are known. But knowing the people’s yearnings alone is not enough. Attending to these yearnings through well programmed and tailored policies are necessary.
This town hall meetings must go as scheduled, that is, all local governments headquarters must be touched. It is on record that Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa during his governorship campaign declined to visit Burutu town, headquarters of Burutu Local Government Council on the excuse of acquaphobia, this should not happen in this town hall meeting. The importance accorded to those in towns accessible by land should be the same with those accessible by river.
Deltans in their own part should not presumed this proposed town meeting as one of those town hall meetings in the past and therefore stay afar. They must come out from their comfort zone to meet the Governor the moment a meeting is schedule to hold in close by. This is another opportunity for everyone to make known to their governor the area their shoes are pinching them. Anyone, group, community, town which has story to tell must attend whenever one is scheduled nearby. Missing this opportunity is like missing a lifetime opportunity.
It is worthy re-emphasing once more that this town hall meeting must be result oriented. As the people would be pouring out their minds, it is pertinent the Governor with his team go back to the drawing board and chart a course with a view to implementing all that were discussed.
Above all, it will be a waste of resources if after touring round the local government areas and at the end nothing tangible to show for it.