There is every reason to celebrate Senator Hezekiah Ayuba Dimka, the representative of the Plateau Central Senatorial District in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly. KATDAPBA Y. GOBUM takes a look at his recent tour of the district to meet his constituents, taking into consideration their needs and where the Chairman, Senate Committee on Narcotics and Drugs has always wanted to take them to.
There are times in most constituencies in the Nigerian political space that the voters wish they had given the mandate to a different person other than the person in power. Reason: The doors are always shut on them as soon as the elections are over; but only to return as another election approaches to canvass for votes.
A number of such representatives believe that the Nigerian electorate would always be on their side, for as long as the depths of their pockets are able to contend with their needs. Or at best their positions could be consolidated by any other means than the usual. Democracy has since gone beyond this stage. A number of constituencies have lived with these absurdities over time. While some have gotten used to it; a number have woken up to the realities that modern democracy is about people and meeting their needs.
A representative performs only to the extent that his support base is people-generated; short of it means the journey hasn’t started. The people’s total abhorrence to stick to the ways of the past is understandable; indeed, we are in an age where working with the people is not to be disparaged.
No doubt the people matter, as they set the tone of the journey. The constituents are desirous of constant quality interactions with their representatives, even as they know that doing so enables them chart the course they have always wanted for their communities to move forward.
It is in regard of the above that the Thank-You-Tour embarked upon by Senator Hezekiah Dimka to his District, Plateau Central is situated.
Those that he needs to return to thank are in various categories. There are local government chairmen, party officials and members, traditional rulers and religious leaders, stakeholders, women, students and myriads of youths who sweated to make the dream come true. But apart from that, he needs to further establish and build new relationships with other people in the district. He never took that for granted.
The tour which started on Friday, November 29, 2019 was carefully planned to meet with the people that make the zone: Pankshin, Kanke, Kanam, Mangu and Bokkos. The return to say, ‘I am grateful for the mandate you have given me, I have returned for more inputs for the journey’; is instructive on several fronts.
Knowing Senator Hezekiah A. Dimka as we all do, he would have since returned to the people to thank them. We can however quickly hazard three major reasons for the delay: One, he needed to settle down to understand his assignment in the National Assembly and two; there were litigations on the election from his major political contender at the Tribunal and the Court of Appeal; and three, there was a budget for the country to be handled and completed by the Senate.
The hurdles have been crossed and all distractions put aside; now it is time for serious legislative business that would put the business of the people as the major plank of his agenda. That is one of the major reasons for his return to meet his constituents and listen to their cries.
On the day that the tour began, @YoungLeadersNet in a tweet, significantly in agreement with the senator’s initiative wrote: ‘Town hall meetings are important for constituency growth, never demean it, ask for it with your legislators’. Now we know as Joseph Stalin once said that ‘ideas are more powerful than guns’ and such are the ones that will rule the world.
The initiative in many respects is an idea which time is now. The fact that the people should drive the mandate with him only goes to prove that those who underestimate the power of the electorate do so only in so far as they are no longer interested in it. The person under review desire to use power for the sake of those that gave it to him.
The Plateau Central Senatorial District among others has lots of projects that need to be revisited, and these were some of the myriads of requests that were handed to Senator Dimka. Take for instance the Panyam-Bokkos-Wamba road and the Gindiri Water Dam, where both projects have, despite swallowing so much money are not at any level near completion. Despite repeated assurances for their execution, we are where we are for no known reason.
The tour took him also to Kanam, Kanke and Pankshin apart from Bokkos and Mangu, where the people came out in large number to receive him under various platforms in the areas. He attended to the needs of several people, wards and LGA executives of his party, stakeholders and communities in various forms; while assuring them of continued assistance where he can.
In Kanam for instance, he was told that since the return of democracy in 1999, no Senator had returned to thank the people so earlier as he did. He set a record, for being the first to do so. Whether it was in Kanam, Kanke, Pankshin, Mangu or Bokkos, he had a message for the enthusiastic party supporters and stakeholders: Be united, believing a greater central zone district is possible through our resolve.
These are critical projects that would impact on the state and its people, therefore whatever is genuinely needed to ensure their completion should be identified and pursued. The funds that have been paid out in the past are enormous enough to be left to go down the drain. Much more, the economic benefits that could accrue therefrom should not be lost on us.
There are other concerns that trouble the zone to the point that the people feel they may have been neglected. A concerted effort to redress them is not an idea that would be toyed with, hence the visit to listen to the voices of his constituents; who feel and naturally should be beneficiaries of any federal or state project.
It is reason why to establish that linkage between Abuja, where he is with the constituents, the need for a Constituency office is paramount for effective discharge of his legislative work. For now, complaints that affect the people would be channeled through the newly inaugurated office located at Pankshin, the zone’s headquarters. The initiative to build an office, six months after inauguration cannot be anything but setting a pace; Nothing can be more appreciative to the zone than for constituents not to travel the long distance to Abuja for either consultations or issues that pertains them.
There are numerous aides who have been appointed to man several areas of the needs of the people of the zone, who would compile such concerns for the Senator’s attention. They all have a responsibility to drive the process of helping him meet the expectations of the people through the senator. To be fair, that is how democracy works and should be in order to sustain a workable relationship between his office and the people. It is not for fun that he is one of the few senators who have a functional constituency office; as several others don’t currently. It is for this same reason that some senatorial districts in Nigeria would not get adequate attention of the services of their representatives, so long as there is no one to stand in the gap between them. In some cases, seeing such representatives is like passing through the eye of the needle.
Not for Senator Hezekiah Dimka, as he has repeatedly assured the people that they should not lose sleep over any genuine issue that affects the zone. The fact that there are numerous assistants in charge of their welfare is enough reason to know that he won’t toy with the mandate, which was freely given to him.
If anything, the tour has afforded him the opportunity of coming face to face with victory and how the people would want him to manage it. If, as he saw, the sheer large number that genuinely turned out is a representation of their expectations. He can only be truthful by opening his doors to their expectations.
Gone are the days when representatives take their people for granted and expect that they cannot be taken to task.
It is another new dawn; an era that not all the needs of the people can be met, but efforts are made to listen to them through visits and town hall meetings to discuss how the zone can move forward. Even as he is determined as always, Senator Hezekiah Dimka, who derives strength from the people of the zone’s contributions, will stop at nothing to drive their enthusiasm to reality, by working assiduously for their communities to be developed as others.
If by reaching down to lift his people is anything to go by, we can be sure that there is a purpose in Senator Dimka’s politics. The office has not changed him; rather the purpose is to drive the zone and give the people a voice.
Senator Dimka concluded his visit in Pankshin with the inauguration of a five man 2019 Christmas Celebration Committee for each of the five LGAs. He called on the committee members to exercise the fear of God, equity and justice in the exercise of their responsibilities for which the assignment demands of them.