Friday, August 30, 2013

Meet Ngum Jerome The Award Winning Mayor of Elak-Oku

 By Fai Cassian
Ngum Jerome: The Award Winning Mayor
 One of the major challenges and  debate nationwide has been the  capability of some elected officials to tackle development process in their sphere of influence. The mayor of Elak-Oku Council, Ngum Jerome has been able to delineate that politics is development and that alleviating poverty and miseries in rural areas is precedence of priority that makes politics and development bedmates.
Life, they say is a combination of trials and tribulations but great people look beyond trials and tribulations. They look beyond the horizon that appears to be the end of the world and see other opportunities that nobody imagines can exist. And their interested act of dreaming, acting and realizing the dreams have positive multiplier effect on society. This is because they are born with talent and to make things happen, they combine talent with hard work and determination. The very essence rural development is that you need to have vision since you can’t blow an uncertain trumpet. Nevertheless, innovation distinguishes between a great politician and a charlatan.
Ngum Jerome is the Mayor of Elak-Oku in Bui Division. For the past six years, he has taken the development to the doorsteps of his people. But unlike ordinary visionaries who see far and remain on their original position, Ngum Jerome did wait for things to happen for his municipality. As a great lobbyist, he lobbied and obtained financial support from FEICOM, PNDP, GP DERUDEP and other partners in development to achieve his vision. The most interesting thing about this innovation mayor who was voted by readers of The Eye Newspaper as the Best of the Best in Bui Division has rumbles of serious innovative ideas that have kept afloat all development initiatives. For these reasons, Ngum Jerome is succeeding where others have fumbled, stumbled and tumbled over.
Rudyard Kipling, one of the finest English writers once said that “if you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs and if you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat the two the same, yours is earth and everything that is in it”. This is a straightforward reality and in fact there is no doubt that Rudyard Kipling had this inspiration from the obstacles and barriers we often crush to get to prominence. In our contemporary society this statement could only be referred to one person, Ngum Jerome Njiloh, the Mayor of Elak Oku.
What is important about this award winning mayor is that he is innovative, down to earth and fertile in expedients. He falls within the ranks of the new breed of politicians born with extra abilities to surmount all sorts of barrier to emerge successful. If we go by Albert Einstein who declared that genius is 1/10 inspiration and 9/10 perspiration, Ngum Jerome is a genius. This means that for somebody to be termed a genius that person must be a workaholic. In this light, Ngum Jerome Njiloh merits to be mentioned first among development luminaries if not the story of North West politicians will remain unfinished. What is so interesting about this pragmatic mayor is that he has done extraordinary things in a very common way.
 If has  become a celebrity it is because he is doing extraordinary things and he is entering history books in great names: Meet him for a discussion then you will discover you have met an honest intellectual. The courage and the frankness he expresses tell you that he was naturally born a workaholic. It is this frankness, hard work and determination that have made him the most admired man of all men in action.

The Great Politician
John Quincy Adams says that if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. Ngum Jerome is a politician with exceptional leadership qualities. Being a great support of President Biya and the CPDM, his actions are litmus test of what a politician ought to be. He is a shoulder on whom Prime Minister Yang Philemon would lean to pass the ideologies of the CPDM to his Constituency given that he masters grassroots politics and is constantly in the field. And since the final test of a politician is that he/she leads the young as their role model. Ngum Jerome is actually the role model who doesn’t talk about development politics in speeches but puts them into practice. In getting to where he is today and especially excelling in local politics, he toiled labourously to transform President Biya’s vision into concrete reality. That is why today he is building common frontiers for all segments of society. In doing this, he followed the principle outlined by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow that ‘heights by great “men” reached and kept were not obtained by sudden flight but, while their companies slept, they were toiling upward in the night’. As the CPDM Mayor elected in 2007, he could have decided like others to do the simple things, but because he believes like Lance Armstrong that ‘greatness is not a measure of how great you are but of how great others came to be because of you’, he decided embark on the disenclavement of his municipality using politics as a tool. Putting politics and development in one basket to sermonize the ideologies of the CPDM has put him into the minds of all and sundry. That is why as a pragmatic politician he is loved, admired and cherished by the poor and lowly in the municipality, the middle class and the rich without any barriers. Today, he is scoring high for the CPDM because of that firm choice.
 What makes him the shinning political icon in the eyes of his people is that he is a politician with a vision who acts promptly. Vision and action are two cardinal ingredients for success and as the Japanese proverb hold: ‘vision without action is daydream; Action without vision is nightmare’. He neither daydreams nor entertains nightmares. This is because of his zeal to recreate passing through politics and knowing like Abraham Lincoln who once said that ‘the best way to predict the future is to create it’; Ngum Jerome puts into CPDM vision the necessary ingredients that make him to succeed.

The Result-oriented Mayor
As September 30 approaches, one of the major challenges that some elected official will face will be to present their stewardship to the population. But Ngum Jerome on the contrary would be hailed for being result oriented at the helm of Elak-Oku Council. From Mbam to Jikijem, down to Ebai, every community in the municipal has something to be proud of.  For being a mark of difference in the fight against poverty, Ngum Jerome’s legacies ranges from the provision of potable water to construction of classrooms, market sheds, slaughter houses, community halls, health centers, farms to market roads, etc. In fact Ngum Jerome has proven exceptionally that his being there at the helm of the Elak Oku Council was by merit and not a favour. He established a program aimed at supporting local initiatives and projects that are geared towards sustainable development. From all practical demonstrations, he is going into history books in big names: the development luminary, promoter of sustainable development, Best Mayor etc…Ever since he became mayor, the administrative account of the council has registered sanity and has also risen. Elak council area is the largest and most populated as per the last census, yet Ngum Jerome has generated the best results in the region.

Infrastructure Development: Priority of Priorities
Developing farms to market roads and linking villages to villages was one of the major axes of the Elak Council under Ngum Jerome from 2007. In collaboration with GP DERUDEP and FEICOM has been able to develop and open the highest number of earth roads in the North West Region. The council also adopted an approach to stimulate community work by villages on road maintenance. This new approach ignited the council to empower road maintenance committees of some with basic road maintenance tools made up of spades, wheelbarrows, digging axes etc we learnt from a young man along the Oku-Noni Road. The construction of the Tolon-Balu road from HIPC Funds as well as the bridge over river Mii.
In order to restyle Oku town, the council also carried out maintenance and rehabilitation work on a number of streets. Taking into consideration the construction of the Elak Council Chamber at the old market, there was the need to give the site more visibility.
Ngum Jerome Njiloh, the council lobbied and obtained funds from FEICOM for the construction of a Council Chamber to accommodate all the council services. Elak Council became the first in Bui Division to put up a befitting Council Chamber which enabled council services to move from the old building to a befitting structure. The Council Chamber is one of the numerous legacies of Ngum Jerome at the helm of the Elak Oku Council that always attracts the admiration. Moving the council from an obscured location to it present site according to Ngum Jerome has helped to bring municipal services closer to the population. Oku council under Ngum Jerome also embarked on providing marketing avenues in the municipality. The construction of sales points and market sheds in the have been cited among some of the projects whose impact is tremendous on the population.
The construction of bridges and culverts were also part of Elak Council’s priorities, such as the bridge over Ketume have disenclaved the municipality. The construction of classrooms through FEICOM, PNDP and GP DERUDEP support has resulted to an improvement in pupils and students performances. Under Ngum Jerome, every village and quarter has a good testimony of his work.

Improving Access to Potable Water
Before taking over the council, one of the major problems in the municipality was the scarcity of water. To Ngum Jerome, keeping the population without potable water was not safe at all especially at a point in time much is being talked about cholera.
With the collaboration of the government and development partners some giant water schemes were constructed to serve three communities in the municipality.

Promoting Sustainable Development through Mini Agro-pastoral shows
Elak Council generates more than 75% of its revenue from the buying and selling of agricultural and livestock produce as well as Non Timber Forest Products-NTFPs (honey). The most interesting thing about Elak Council is that with Ngum Jerome, the promotion of agricultural, forestry and livestock produce is primordial. This could not leave the council indifference in promoting these activities. Since 2007, the Elak Council has made the farmer’s jamboree a yearly event. It council sponsors the show every year as a way for farmers to share ideas, knowledge and experiences.  And at the end, distinguished farmers are awarded prizes and certificates as a way to stimulate growth and perfection. To the mayor, the best way to go industrial is to promote the agro-pastoral and apicultural sectors. Through the show, the best speculations in the municipality are promoted and awarded compensation for hard work.
The scope of intervention of the Elak Council in the fight against poverty and promoting sustainable development, the mayor acknowledges that in providing assistance to beneficiaries as indicated above, “ we take into consideration the needs of the concerned and it should be an ongoing project that it impact will reach the entire community or village”.

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