_Gabriel Akhabue Iruobe_
March 20th, 2022.

There is a saying that “evil thrives; not by the increase of bad people, but by the silence of good people”. In same vein, we can posit that underdevelopment thrives not by the dearth of intelligent people but the lackadaisical attitude of elites and significant elders – home or in the diaspora. Thus, Ebelle development roadmap fails to be accomplished for now, not by the difficulty of achieving it but by the silence of those that should promote and support it.
Weeks have rolled by since we started the debate about Ebelle Development Roadmap. A few of us have suggested how we can, as a people, fashion out a suitable and sustainable development roadmap, yet the elders that should be at the forefront are themselves waiting in silence for a white paper to drop from heaven or the shrines of the ancestors as Ebelle Development Roadmap. Only a few elders have shown concern openly or at the corridor about how to go about it.
I think I know what they are waiting for – the blueprint that will be brought to the table to be shredded in pieces in order to make a mockery of the exercise and ridicule the initiators.

We thought the initiative was loudible enough to receive commendation, suggestions and support. For now, it appears it has become the problem of the EUF Admin only.
It is true that we have stopped open idea contributions at the Ebelle Roadmap platform or the general Ebelle Unity Forum following a deadline declaration. But looking back at the contributions and the contributors, we are afraid the envisaged Roadmap may suffer the problem of legitimacy as most elders have not given it much thought nor have monitored events leading to the blueprint. As an elder rightly observed and warned, “the idea of a development roadmap might fizzle away if we sleep over the issue for too long”.

We are still expecting sponsorship since the extent we can go would depend on the funds that are available.

We are not even at the palace here where ideas are carefully guarded against misrepresentation, yet elders are silent. Most persons here are not chiefs who would engage in self censorship in conformity with the oath of loyalty sworn to at the induction ceremony at the palace, yet there is such a smothering silence. Those that should be leading the discussion along this line have the excuse of being very busy about their professional callings.
Ebelle therefore have come under a serious abandonment like that of an ill-fated orphan relying only on the goodwill of accidental helpers.
Some persons even show an attitude of “planning is not needed; only prayers do”.
Many are shying away from the fundamental problems and disagreements that could result from the debates.

We are in an era of a Social Media guarded and conscripted behaviours and accounting system in which people can be quoted about their behaviours and utterances at any time. Thus, elders that speak with both sides of their mouths are less likely to enjoy the new social reality. They would rather be silent than quoted. It is a shame that elders can’t stand on the truth they know or offer sustainable recommendations.
Some elders are not only sceptical of the fallouts of their words and advice to a community but sometimes also afraid of their own children who wouldn’t want their images dented by the unpopular ideas espoused by these family figures. No body wants to vent an unpopular idea; neither would they want it for a close relative. At the end, a frigid silence is naturally observed at the detriment of a whole community who would have benefitted; more or less like a conspiracy.
Ebelle, and by extension, all Esan communities, would have benefitted from the participation of the elite class in community or traditional administrations had people not censored themselves against the truth and ideals that doesn’t bring personal benefits.
But the Ebelle people must be reminded that Angels won’t come down to force development through our throat. We must become active agents to this development. It often starts by voicing out our opinions when we are in the position to do so.
Elders who shirk the responsibility of legitimizing truth are themselves accomplices to falsehood and blatant lies. Elders who are not thinking about the wellbeing of the next generation after them are the very ones failing not just the community but humanity. It shouldn’t be about our gains anymore than it should be about our priorities, prioritisations and the generations after us.

Today, we regret the company of elders who have no time to think about the next generation and to chart a cause for us. Ebelle cannot be allowed to run on its own without a major plan that most people would subscribe to and use as a document for political negotiations and economic empowerment.

We stopped where the colonial masters stopped and having positioned ourselves in akimbo we wait for an illusive and impregnable divine interventions.
When waiting on some spiritual magic fails, we hope on government’s intervention that has become a problem to itself, with a blueprint for itself that has not worked. We wallow in poverty everyday but admire the societies where things are planned and implemented for communities. We look at them as angel yet they are men like us.

It is time to tell ourselves the truth, we don’t have men of integrity anymore that will look beyond their personal gains to pursue community gains. I must conclude by saying, if we can’t live beyond our conveniences and gains, we have lived a life of childishness as subterfuge elderliness.
If we can’t programme the next generation after us to taste of true and planned development, we are a shame to God and the ancestors who depend on us to lead humanity into a life of ecstasy. The boredom of moronic silence must be jettisoned if Ebelle must move forward. Let the elders wake up!
Ebelle Ogha mhen!

About Gabriel Iruobe

I have a background in Sociology from the University of Ibadan. Although, an industrial sociologist, my interest in rural societies have grown over the years. The sociological insight gained in my school days have had me define development in a fashion slightly different from an orthodox orientation. Studying or researching on rural life is quite easy for me since I spent my early life in a rural setting, viewing all the attractions often overlooked by the urban elites. If the rule of sustainable development is to be followed, no aspect of the world's cultural heritage is to be ignore or neglected. This is my obsession.

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