JOSHUA MACIVER: THE FOOTPRINTS OF A FREEDOM FIGHTER.
By Ade Bakare
Hon. Joshua Maciver, the Ex Southern Ijaw Local Government Caretaker Committee Chairman, is a short man with tall dreams. One of his vision is the emancipation of the Ijaw nation from the ‘Nigerian state’s oppression and economic exclusion’. He believes men are born equal and that the Ijaw stock is a major stakeholder in the Nigeria project. As such, he could not stomach the situation where the Ijaw will be regarded as second class citizen in the country. More so, the bulk of the resource that pays the bills for the nation is right at his backyard.
Another source of his concern is the ‘deliberate’ underdevelopment of the Niger Delta by successive federal authorities. A region whose people are exposed to so much carbon in the name of oil exploration and uninhibited gas flaring, but has no quality hospital, no good school, and no potable water. This is inspite of so much contribution to the economy of the nation. He could not accept or stand-by while poverty becomes the lot of his people. These are farmers and fishermen who could no longer engage in any productive activity because years of oil and gas pollution has soiled their arable land and poisoned their water.
He resolved and joined people of like-minds to fight the oppression with a view to securing development of the Ijaw of the Southern Nigeria. Their agitation for better deal was initially ignored but it never abated. Many have posited that the fallout of his agitations and those of his colleagues gave rise to the nomination of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the Vice President and subsequently President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Militancy has its limit. With the changing realities of the time, he became convinced that a non-violent approach may be the queen in the chess board of actualizing better life for Ijaw people. He felt developmental politics may be one viable option in this regard. Therefore, he was one of the first principal agitators to accept amnesty declared by the then President, Umaru Yar’Adua.
Destiny seems to have a way of putting one on his toes by holding one up to his words. Or could there be better explanation for his appointment as Caretaker Committee Chairman for Southern Ijaw Local Government? Destiny seems to be saying “you said things were not properly done. You took up arms to redress the situation. Now, you have the chance. Do it yourself”.
Hon Maciver heard the voice of destiny loud and clear. He knew the appointment is a challenge to his integrity. Whatever he may choose to do or not do will determine whether he is a genuine freedom fighter or a self-seeking individual.
Fourteen months after his appointment, this simple, strong-will, highly emotional, kind-hearted and highly cerebral freedom fighter has given a good account of himself in many fronts. He has continued to invest in a number of life enhancing projects. The four House of Assembly constituencies in the council have developmental projects to show for the one year two months administration of Hon. Joshua Maciver. The even distribution of projects across the constituency gave Hon. Maciver out as a fair-minded man of honour.
The first assignment he undertook was to provide residential accommodation for principal staff and other categories of workers with a view to making them regular at work. Before he assumed office, absenteeism among workers was widespread.
Workers often blamed their inability to come as regular as expected on lack of adequate residential accommodation. Rather than invoke relevant section of the rules, he decided to provide residential accommodation for the staff in the council’s headquarters at Oporoma.
The accommodation was tastefully furnished to serve as part of incentives at making the staffers stay at work and give their best.
With that done, the wheel of developmental projects rolled. Lack of internal road network in most communities in Southern Ijaw Council was an area of concern to Hon Maciver. Ayanma was the first to be visited by the chairman’s desire to turn things around. A 520-metre concrete road was constructed within a record time. This singular act has made movement in the community easy. In Opuama and Angiama, 6 by 300-metre concrete road was constructed in each of the communities.
Ikibiri 1 recently became another beneficiary of internal road. The council under Hon Maciver watch also constructed a 6 by 602-metre concrete road in the community. At Olugbobiri, a riverine community, he also constructed a standard Concrete Jetty to enable easy access to the community. One of the hallmarks of the projects the administration undertook is their high quality and standard.
The Southern Ijaw Caretaker Committee Chairman also completed the motor park in Amassoma; a project which was started by his predecessor in office. The Park is provided with quality facilities including about forty lockup shops, offices, waiting and booking offices and 6 units of modern toilets.
The chairman also inherited some river crafts and buses. The six buses inherited were in serious state of disrepair ditto the five boats. They have all been refurbished and put into use.
Another foray of Hon. Maciver is in the area of health. He embarked on a number of health programmes. The programmes include; Testing and Counseling for those who are living with HIV/AIDS, Maternal and Child week as well as Immunization Plus Day (IPDS).A number of Health Centres in the local government area have been slated for renovation and rehabilitation.
The Southern Ijaw Local Government has committed huge resources to teachers salary and other welfare programmes. The award of scholarship to five students leaving with disabilities from the council to study in the University and Polytechnic is an insight to what Hon. Maciver could do were the funds available.
Hon Maciver has answered the call of destiny to service with integrity, vision and unusual candor. The projects he led the council to execute are indelible and excellent footprints he will be leaving in the sands of time in Southern Ijaw Local Government. They are the footprints of a visionary and peacemaking freedom fighter.