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It is another election season when some Nigerians say that politicians visit their neglected communities only to make promises while seeking their votes.
Such forgotten people and communities are often courted by politicians at such times, making them beautiful brides for the season.
For example, Mike Ejeagha, a musician who specializes in making classic Igbo folklore hits, has not heard anything for several years. While Ejeagha's music was not as popular as it was in the 1970s, the musician himself literally disappeared from the public eye.
The artist, popularly known as "Gentleman" and referred by Wikipedia as "folklorist, songwriter and musician". comes from the state of Enugu, where he began his musical career in the mid-20th century. He has influenced the evolution of music in the Igbo language since he released his first hit in 1960.
His style of music – narrative texts with proverbs and accompanied by the guitar sound – was unmistakable. The fact that his songs are in Igbo language made him a household name in the Southeast.
He is said to have made over 300 recordings in the National Archives of Nigeria to the music of folk music of Igbo.
But in recent years, when his fame faded, probably due to age and the emergence of various musical styles, not many knew that Ejeagha was ill and lived more or less destitute in a ghetto-like environment in the Abakpa Nike area of Enugu ,
Ejeagha's grim state was revealed after a social media user who visited him highlighted his efforts in a post shared on various social media platforms.
The social media contribution would have made no difference anyway if he had not come to the "right time" – in the middle of the "election season".
Apparently, the post caught the attention of politicians who quickly turned the singer's seat into a political campaign. And so it happened that Ejeagha's story changed on Saturday, November 10, 2018.
Earlier this day, Senator Ayogu Eze, governor of the All Progressives Congress in Enugu State, paid Ejeagha an unscheduled visit to his Abakpa Nike residence. Residents of the area wondered what happened when the long convoy of expensive vehicles drove through the narrow streets and poor roads to the humble home of the musician.
During the brief visit, which was discussed by journalists, Eze, the candidate of APC, stated that he was worried about the condition of the 84-year-old musician. He noted that it was regrettable that people like Ejeagha, who contributed to the cultural renaissance of their people through their gifts, were not recognized by successive state administrations.
Eze assured that if his government were elected governor in 2019, his government would recognize the contributions of the members of the Society and would grant them due recognition.
"We are here to inform you that we are fighting for the government's government position. Our government will ensure that people like you are remembered. Just see where you were forgotten and left. We will give you the respect that you and others deserve. " The APC candidate, a former chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, said.
Eze assured that his government would provide the singer with adequate accommodation if he wins the next election. He also promised to impress the Copyright Society of Nigeria to ensure that all royalties due to Ejeagha for his songs were paid.
The musician was also asked to assist the APC governorship candidate and told him to "talk to your people to support the APC."
"Do not be put off, God will answer your prayers" Ejeagha told the APC candidate while happily commenting on the visit.
As interesting as the event might have been, the matter would have passed, but the "Ejeagha Affair" took an even more remarkable turn, than just hours later, on the same day, Eze's biggest opponent in the election of vice presidents Enugu government was The Democratic Party candidate, and Acting Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi also visited the musician.
However, sources in the Ugwuanyi camp claimed that the governor had already planned a visit to Ejeagha that day before the APC candidate allegedly got wind of the planned visit took the first step.
However, a statement released by the Enugu state government after the governor's visit to the musician revealed that Ejeagha had "approved" Ugwuanyi for a second term.
The statement, in which Ejeagha was described as an "iconic" musician, states: "Legendary highlife musician Mike Ejeagha has endorsed Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State for a second term to ensure a good term and adequate security in the state ,
"The Ezeagu-born indigenous state of Enugu state was confirmed when Ugwuanyi gave him a visit to his Abakpa-Nike residence in the county of Enugu East.
"Chief Ejeagha, who expressed his joy over the governor's visit to see how he is doing, was extremely impressed that the governor is changing the state of Enugu for the better and is also rooting peace and security in the state and assuring him of his support his re-election in 2019. "
At the end of the visit, the governor promised to pay Ejeagha's medical bills and asked the musician's family to pay his medical attention to Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu, with appropriate attention.
Ugwuanyi also thanked the members of the Ejeagha family, "the wife and daughter who took care of him, and offered the daughter a full-time job so she could take care of her father accordingly."
Efforts to discuss development with Ejeagha were unsuccessful at the time of writing.
However, the story of Ejeagha reflects that of some neglected communities in the country, which are only perceived by politicians as elections approach.
One of these communities is Arepo in the state of Ogun, which is adjacent to the state of Lagos.
For the people of Arepo, the main concern is how they can have good roads, a dream that has lasted so long and whose reality is difficult to achieve. During a visit to the church, our correspondent noted that the roads leading to the church were in poor condition. The unpaved roads are filled with potholes and dust surrounds the streets as the vehicles pass by.
The bad, dilapidated state of the streets gives the community an abandoned, ghostly feeling.
Politicians, who usually visit the community to seek votes during election periods, promise to repair the main road leading to the community for several years.
However, with the approaching elections of 2019, the promises remain unfulfilled.
Mr Victor Olajide, a community leader in Arepo, told our correspondent that politicians from various political parties only remember the area during the election campaigns.
"It has become a trend, they will come during the campaigns to promise us heaven and earth – they will promise to repair the road – but when the election season is over, we will not see them anymore. The next time we hear from them is the next election season. " Olajide told our correspondent.
Olajide expressed regret that the presence of the government is felt only in the community when the politician asks for votes.
He added, "Some of them visited before the primaries, and we know that before the parliamentary elections, politicians will make further visits to the community, after which they will leave us again. But we asked her to address our problems. We want them to repair our roads. That's our biggest challenge. The road is our biggest problem – they should fix our roads. "
Our correspondent learned that Arepo residents have taxed themselves to raise money to provide basic infrastructure in the community.
Olajide, who condemned the "promises and failures" of politicians, described the situation as "unhappy."
The story is the same for the people of Makoko, a community in Lagos Lagoon. The majority of the community's inhabitants, estimated at more than 100,000, reside in houses built on stilts along the lagoon, while others are located on the mainland. The government of Lagos, which sees the community as an illegal settlement, destroyed in 2012 in a demolition of several houses in the area and made many families homeless.
However, the community still lives, albeit in a neglected, poor condition, as recently noted by a visit to our correspondent in the area.
"Unfortunate" is the most poignant expression to describe the living conditions of the unfortunate inhabitants, who live practically in waters that are nothing but open, flowing sewage, from which the stink of dirt and decay permeates the atmosphere.
In the lazy slum, residents are forced to cook, eat, bathe, and run in the open water. This poses a great threat to public hygiene in their community.
Even schools, churches and businesses need to find ways to exist in the seedy environment.
Makoko simply stinks of neglect. But politicians keep reminding themselves of the area when it's time to ask for votes during the election campaign.
Dickinson Odeh, a resident of Makoko, said that politicians visit the community only during the campaign season.
"The politicians, including those of the government, always come to a campaign and ask us to vote for them, but after that we hear nothing from them." said a sad-looking Odeh as he drank a bottle of Zobo, a local drink, next to an open, stinking sewer that could fit a small river.
Countless flies that seemed to emerge from the sewer buzzed and seemed to be fighting to share the drink with Odeh while he continued to complain about the deplorable situation in Makoko.
"Some time ago, the government decided to demolish the community. Many houses were demolished, and so many people lost their homes, several people were killed.
"The demolition was suspended and the community remained neglected, but it is so unfortunate that they are still coming to seek our votes whenever it is in the elections. This means that they have deliberately neglected us, even though they know that people like themselves live here. It's unfortunate, "Odeh said with a note of frustration.
"Take a look at the surroundings" Said Odeh and ran his hands over the open sewer. "Even wild animals do not want to live in such a state."
Odeh, who said he had not been able to look after his family since losing his job at a Chinese company, said that in addition to the poor living conditions in the region, the biggest challenge facing the inhabitants of Makoko was unemployment.
When Odeh showed our correspondents in the area, several other young people joined the expedition and urged the government to create jobs in the community.
One of the youth who identified himself as John said the unemployment situation in Makoko was out of control.
"Most of the young people you see here have no job, not just the youth – the majority of the population is unemployed and that's why we have so much poverty here." He added that the situation is related to a lack of basic amenities and education.
John, who further explained that most of the community's employees worked with Chinese companies, found that the government had done nothing to protect them from exploitation and intimidation by their Chinese employers.
"Most of us manage to find work with Chinese companies, but they oppress, harass and abuse us in our own country. The intimidation is too much and most of the time they refuse to pay us. We complained to the government, but nothing was done. It is as if we had been left to our own destiny; they do not care if we exist until it's time to seek our votes, " John said with despondency and misery on his face.
Other "forgotten" individuals who suddenly enjoy the attention of the high and powerful in society during the election season are thugs and louts and even downright malicious rogues who are suddenly entitled to become part of the campaigning machinery.
These individuals are suddenly organized in Partisan forces ready to mutilate and kill at the behest of their masters, just for a small appetite.
It is known that the government is taking action against the disruptive activities of the National Union of Road Workers, but as soon as the elections are due, the group's violent riots are tolerated and even encouraged as long as they contribute to the electoral victory.
Endangered groups such as tricycles or Keke drivers and motorcycle or Okada drivers, who are usually threatened with bans by the government, are tolerated and even embraced in the season of the campaign.
A similar gesture applies to various groups such as widows, market women and rural dwellers. Neglected and forgotten in normal times, they all become beautiful brides when politicians need their votes.
They are practically driven into commercial buses and dressed in the colors of the political party or politician concerned, to summon the numbers at rallies, where they sing the praise of the aspirant or High Heaven nominee.
With 2019 election campaigns officially starting on Sunday, November 18, 2019, these scenarios are likely to resume. At this time, the long-lived rural wives of politicians who have come to ask for their votes, get cups of rice, some cans of tomato paste and some onions.
Unemployed young people, who have not been able to afford new clothes for a long time, will suddenly receive a collection of jackets and shirts with pictures of aspirants they have "mobilized" to support their bid for public office.
An unemployed adolescent who identified himself as Ekene said he already had a selection of shirts he received during the primaries of the 2019 polls.
Interestingly, Ekenes does not discriminate against "new wardrobe" when it comes to political parties and candidates.
"In recent months, I have purchased several new shirts and even hats, which we received for various election campaigns organized by various political parties and aspirants." Ekene told our correspondent, adding that he has shirts with the colors of the APC, the PDP and some other political parties.
Ekene was able to receive such "gifts" from politicians because he was one of several unemployed youth in his community who were available at all times and ready to be "mobilized" by politicians, regardless of the political party involved.
"Life as an unemployed youth has been hard, but it usually gets better during the campaign season – the politicians suddenly remember us.
"Even our lawmakers in the National Assembly and state assembly houses who did not pick up our phone calls call us back. They become our friends and if they missed our phone calls because they were busy when we called, they called us back. We will be very important to you this season. " Explained Ekene.
Our correspondent noted that the constituency offices of some lawmakers in the country, which are usually abandoned, were suddenly repainted and brought to life as elections approached.
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