The Senator Representing Southern Borno senatorial district, Ali Ndume, wept after casting his vote at the Gwoza camp for internally displaced persons where thousands of his kin cast their votes.
Mr. Ndume is a native of Gwoza town of Borno state, a rocky community where Boko Haram had forcefully taken and declared the headquarters of its so-called Islamic caliphate.
Over 20, 000 residents of Gwoza including their emir were forced to flee to Maiduguri, the state capital, while many others were forced to flee into Cameroon.
Though the military were able to liberate Gwoza on the eve of the elections, the people of Gwoza had to vote for the first time in their history at an IDP camp.
Mr. Ndume who is contesting the senatorial seat for Borno south for the second time said “anytime I try to come to the IDP camp where my people are I restrain myself, by trying to put myself together, but my emotion always fail me; because these people share the same background with me and here they are in a camp. Each time I enter the camp my people would come around me with a lot of expectations; it was too much a pitiable situation and in most times I am left in doubt if we can ever meet their expectation.
“Here we have the people that are electing us to power so anxious to play out their parts by coming out to cast their votes; and they did that by coming out early in the morning, some had to trek over 10km to get to the Gwoza IDP camp where their centre is located just to exercise their civic responsibilities. We found ourselves in this situation because we in the leadership have failed in our role of leading the people right; and their expectation will continue increasing until we decide to do things right.
“We just hope that the votes we are casting today will bring about the true change that the people are yearning for. But going by the mood of the people I see here in this crowded camp, this change has already begun; and may God give our people a true country where leaders will remain awake for the followers to sleep with their eyes closed”.
The Senator said part of the reason he broke down at the camp was because “many people I know in Gwoza who are men and women of means have now been reduced to near beggars who had to wait to be given hand-outs before they feed. This moved me to tears seeing landlords and heads of households casting votes in a remote camp far away from their ancestral homes. I weep seeing them still hopeful as they want to cast their votes believing that voting in the right direction will bring them succour”.
He commended the military for helping liberate Gwoza.
“Gwoza has been recaptured but we are still here; Gwoza is not habitable yet. The military deserve commendation for this. But we would have been happier today and wouldn’t have been emotional today if we are casting our votes coming from our homes and not from the tents of IDP camps. It even saddens me the more seeing that I could not give better accommodation to my people who are living in a very uncomfortable situation here”.