Federal lawmaker under fire over comment on student’s request for financial aid

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Clement Jimbo

By  A Special Correspondent               

A member of the National Assembly from Akwa Ibom State has come under criticism on Facebook for asking a student who begged him for financial assistance to take up menial jobs. The lawmaker, Clement Jimbo, who represents Abak/Ika/Etim Ekpo Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom State in the House of Representatives, made a post on Facebook under which the user had commented asking for financial help to pay his school fees. “If you want to break even early in life, you study, understand and practice delayed gratification. #YouthSlot nuggets,” Mr Jimbo wrote on Facebook on 30 March.

In response to the post, Tony Ofon, whose Facebook profile shows he studied at the Federal Polytechnic, Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, wrote in a comment under the post: “My MP Inemesit Clement Jimbo please I need your help to pay my tuition fees. My semester exams start Wednesday next week.”

Mr Ofon’s comment garnered several comments by Thursday. But the response of the lawmaker, who tagged his campaign “Youth Slots,” to Mr Ofon’s comment angered many people in the state who took to Facebook to criticise him.

“Roll your sleeves and work on a construction site. A day’s work as a site operative earns a minimum of 5k,” Mr Jimbo, replied to Mr Ofon’s request. Mr Jimbo did not respond to media requests for comment on his response to the student when contacted.

This is not the first time the federal lawmaker harshly responded to constituents on Facebook. A prominent Nigerian newspaper last October reported how Mr Jimbo said he would no longer give out money to his constituents who seek financial help for burial. “All financial solicitation for burial is hereby suspended till further notice,” he wrote on Facebook last year.

His latest response to school fees request from a student has put him in the spotlight, generating several criticisms after a Facebook user, Itoro Etti, posted a screenshot of the comments and Mr Jimbo’s response. Angered by the response, many Facebook users went under the comment section to remind the lawmaker how he begged for money on Facebook while he was campaigning for the office. “That response was harsh, MP Clement Jimbo. Dear Hon. Inemesit Clement Jimbo, that response to a constituent in need of help didn’t go too well sir.” “I’m sure you’re aware that your mentor and senate President, Godswill Akpabio would not have given such a response to a helpless citizen of Akwa Ibom no matter where he or she hails from.” “I recall vividly a year before last when you made an attempt to contest as Reps member, you came here on Facebook, solicited for funds, some people mocked you while some were bold enough to key in and support your vision which was at the time a tall dream but that tall (dream) became a manifested vision today.”

“The only crime the young scholar did was to seek help to pay fees. Dear MP, you no try for this one,” Mr Etti wrote on Facebook, where he shared the picture of the lawmaker.

A journalist, Ndifreke Enefiok, was also among the critics.“This guy has been goofing around since he entered the office. He was the same person who published a press statement telling his constituents not to approach him for funeral needs again. This very same person who posted his account details for support during elections is the same person feeling like he’s arrived. Tomorrow we’ll say let’s give youth a chance. Now see this one here and to think that he’s representing Etim Ekpo people too makes me so ashamed on his behalf. He should do better and stop acting like a cocky rep who will spend eternity in Abuja. He’ll come back home and ask for votes again. We’ll be here to show him the road to every construction site to go work for his win,” Ms Enefiok wrote in the comment section.

Another user, Samdede Krt, however, supported the lawmaker’s action, saying that the student should have sent him a private message.“I support this MP, go and hustle. If he had wanted a mild reply, he would’ve respectfully sent a private message,” Mr Krt wrote. Before his election, the lawmaker was not popular in the state, the basis many people believed he benefited from the popularity of the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, to defeat the PDP candidate in the election last year. Messrs Akpabio and Jimbo are from the same senatorial district. Mr Jimbo’s election is one of the two federal constituency elections in the state whose results were declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission. He later won the supplementary election.

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