Jul 1, 2008

Philemon Dewan Passes On

According to close associates, the decision by Philemon Dewan to join politics was a respond to a call from his senatorial domain in central Plateau State. Plateau state has sons and daughters doing great things for the nation. It is only when they join politics that people begin to dig into their past to find out their towering resume. Philemon Dewan is one of such persons from the state.

Dewan born in March 28th, 1956 is from Tuwan in Kanke Local Government Area of Plateau State. His life time though average in duration was replete with excellence. His distinct academic records were noted from his elementary education, reaching a crescendo in 1979 when he backed an Upper Degree in Business Administration at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, He followed that, immediately, with a Masters Degree from the same institution. The fifteen professional certificates he obtained between 1979 and 1995 points to the fact that he was a man that loved books for their sake and not because of the rewards attached to reading them.
It is common knowledge that when you do a thing for the sake of it you become a master of it and rewards are usually spontaneous.
Samson, the younger brother of Philemon, when asked to give a catalogue of his brothers working experience often ends up with a sad expression. This is because he often forgets some of them. That is an injustice to his late brother’s heroic status. The rewards of Philemon’s academic brilliance and love for books are seen in his collaboration with limitless organizations that includes the Nigerian Stock Exchange, where he was a first Plateau man, Nigerian Airport Authority in Kaduna, Arthur Anderson and Co in Lagos, the Jos International Breweries, Lion Bank of Nigerian Plc and so on. At one time or the other he held very managerial positions in a number of boards that included Julius Berger, Lion Bank, Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority. At his death he was a member of the Board of Directors of Consolidated Breweries Plc which had a few Nigerians with him as the first member from the North.
In 2003 Philemon contested for the senate from Plateau Central Constituency on the Platform of the Alliance for Democracy, AD as a challenger to the incumbent, Ibrahim Mantu, who was the Deputy Senate President. The result showed that Philemon lost the battle but voters felt otherwise and took to the streets in protest. Chaos broke out as a result. It ended up with trails of blood in the streets of Pankshin town. Political observers say Dewan worked to prove that the powerful Mantu was not unbreakable after all. His reversal of the earlier decision to challenge the verdict of the polls at the election tribunal was considered by many as an outcome of out-of-court settlement between Mantu and he. Mwantu however, denied ever knowing Philemon in person.
In 2006 one of Dewan’s three sons died in a ghastly motor accident. The boy, according to neighbours and intimate associates was Philemon’s most beloved. The death of the boy complicated his father’s already diabetic condition leading to a stroke. He never really recovered till he eventually gave up on June 25th, 2008.

Ordinary People and Dividends of Democracy in Plateau State

“The truth shall set you free.” This is the Biblical statement meant to play up the significance of righteousness to he who wants freedom from the bondage of the devil. Looking at secular contemporary issues, it will be seen that the same rule applies. One unfortunate reason why our politics have failed to be productive is the syndrome of the one-eye view of issues. Whenever an incumbent government is appraised, the opposition is usually not interested in seeing its brilliant face no matter how bright it may be. This opposition will not stop there as they go as far as brain-washing the people to accepting its position as the ultimate truth. Hence a good government may be difficult to recognize and whatever it does may not receive proper recommendation. It may thus be discouraged into dormancy. The cycle of underdevelopment continues.

Past governments in Nigeria are noted for their stiff-neckedness, preferring to hold on to the unpopular style of administration that has notoriously failed the nation over the decades. The rich keep multiplying their wealth while the strangulation of the poor by indigence gets even tighter. The poor, mostly uneducated women and children have remained in the spectator stands for so long. They lack access to quality education for their children and their unborn generations are bound to inherit the tradition of destitution. They are admonished to take to farming but the relevant incentives remain unavailable to them. They are encouraged to take to petty trading but not all have inborn inclination to trading. They cannot take white collar jobs as they lack the necessary qualifications. The best thing you can do to such an underprivileged person is to provide him with a job that guarantees a regular income

The life of an uneducated and unskilled widow is extremely miserable. These are the type of persons that have been provided jobs by the street-cleaning programme of the Jang administration. Minimum pay in the regular service of the state government is about N 5 000. The one thousand five hundred women earn about N8, 000 monthly for sweeping the streets a few hours everyday for six days of the week, as it is a contract employment.

On the average every single woman has three dependants. By extension, the lives of six thousand persons are affected. It is note-worthy to make clear that the poor are those that cannot afford the basic things of life such as portable water, decent housing, quality education and affordable health care. On this basis, the six thousand people whose lives are affected cannot be classified as poor.

Kumbo Davou, one of the women who started work in December, 2007 said she now pays school fees for three of her children as a result of her new employment. In addition she employs additional hands to assist her in the farm besides buying other inputs for her farm. When her husband died, they were staying in a one-room shack. She is now working on a second room and is confident to accomplish this goal as long as her job remains secured.

Kumbo is quick to stress that the completion of her room construction depends on the security of her job. This is because a recent confusion led to the firing of a few of these women and the incident must have reminded the others that the job may not be everlasting. The conversation with Kumbo helped to reveal the indispensability of the job to these women. Thus the street-cleaning job represents duty to the electorates. If the government must win the second tenure at ease, then it must work hard to avoid failure of the programme. The women bring the votes more than any body after all.





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