An entry in the 2016 Crocodile Prize
IMAGINE you have genuine business to conduct with your provincial Governor, the man people like you have given a mandate to serve.
Say you want to follow up on the K100,000 he has committed to your group’s community-based vegetable project under the special agriculture grant roll out.
The money has been budgeted but not released and the year is about to end.
Your group members are frustrated and pressure you as chairperson to personally meet the Governor and collect the cheque.
You get up early one morning and walk up the mountain, along the valley and cross swamps for three hours fighting the chill and mosquito bites. Then you reach the nearest main road. You wait an hour for a PMV to arrive.
By the time you get to the provincial government headquarters, half the day has gone. You spend another two hours standing in a long queue, all of it wanting to see the Governor.
As you stand there, the atmosphere starts to get tense and eventually the people in front of you become rowdy.
The security guard and one of Governor’s sidekicks at the entrance to the great man’s office are answering the people’s queries and forcing them to go away.
The people are not satisfied with this. They are angry and want to force their way into the Governor’s office.
The guard threatens to call the police if they don’t leave immediately. Knowing what the police are like –brutality first; talk later - the people slowly and reluctantly leave, thoroughly dismayed.
Only a few, people who appear to be the Governor’s acquaintances, are allowed to see him.
By now you are thinking hard about how you will convince the guard and get in to see the Governor. You feel more uneasy as you move closer to the top of the queue.
After what seems to be a million hours, your turn comes. The first question shoots at you like a missile: “What is it you want to see the Governor about?”
The missile is delivered with a tone of power and authority that you did not expect. Your heart beats faster.
After a moment of silence, you give your reason.
“There is no money. Come back next year.”
“I want to see the Governor,” you insist.
“I told you, there is no money. Are you deaf? Now get out and come back next year. Stop wasting our time.” It’s the sidekick.
“When exactly next year will I ...?”
You haven’t finished your question and the guard shouts out to the next person who shoves his way to the front.
Feeling lost and disgusted, you take the slow steps like those who went before you.
“If only you knew where I come from ….”
The thought sweeps back to swamp, mountain and mosquitoes. You are engulfed with feelings of sadness then anger and hatred.
You look to the sky and the grand old sun is about to perch on the western mountain top. You check your mobile phone and it is four o’clock.
The thought of the long and gruelling journey back home enervates your soul. Nevertheless, it has to be done, as you have no friend or wantok in this town.
You force your legs to stride to the PMV stop and get on the back of an old and battered Land Cruiser. You know the vehicle is a road menace but you risk the journey anyway because at this time of the day you have no choice.
Finally you reach home around midnight, feeling sore, tired, hungry and disheartened.
Next morning your happy group members gather at your house to welcome the K100,000 cheque from their honorable Governor. Instead, to their increasing dismay and detestation, you tell them the story.
They feel sorry for you and hate the Governor to their bones. They grind their teeth and vow to get even at the next election. Ol i kaikai tit the tok bai ol i lukim (mekim save) long taim bilong nupla ileksen.
Have you ever experienced or come across stories like this? People who have genuine business matters to discuss with the Governor or some other elected leader are handled by secretaries, security guards, drivers, tea boys, briefcase carriers and sidekicks.
People don’t go to the politician’s office to be seen by these ignorant and arrogant fools. They go with one thing in mind, and that is to get an answer from the mouth of their mandated leader, be that answer negative or positive.
Only then they will be satisfied.
Instead the nincompoops guarding the door are the mouthpieces. They demand to know the reason to see the grand personage and, when they are told, they provide an answer as if they are the MP himself.
When people tell them that they are not satisfied and want to hear it from the MP’s own mouth, these lunatics say that they are telling them what the MP is going to tell them.
When the people insist, they are ordered out or simply ignored. In extreme cases , they are ushered to the gate which is shut in front of them.
This is real and happening all the time at Kondom Agaundo Building, the Simbu Provincial Government headquarters in Kundiawa. It is also happening elsewhere in our country.
The briefcase carriers or sidekicks think they are doing a great job. What they don’t realise is that they are destroying the MP who employs them.
Those same people who have given the politician the mandate return home with anger and hatred. This will not be forgotten at the time of the next election.
Papua New Guinea has a high turnover of politicians at each election. And this is one of the reasons that contributes to their downfall.
It’s up to the politicians to ensure their electoral staff facilitate the process of accountability and answerability to the voters, not trash it.