ALL BOUGAINVILLEANS of sound mind know that in the 1990s 20,000 people perished on our island as the result of a civil war in the name of freedom.
Our relatives’ lives were lost for our island to be free from the claws of Papua New Guinea and its exploitation and subjugation of our land and people.
When our young men took up arms and violence in 1988 against the PNG national government, Bougainville Copper Limited and the illegal Papua New Guinean squatter settlers, we the people stood up for them with our hearts.
The sacrifice is not much recognised by our present day leaders. Post-conflict Bougainville is a massive fireball of opportunists tearing apart the Bougainville our people died to save.
The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) budget is fast going beyond K300 million whilst tax collected by the Bougainville’s Internal Revenue Commission is snailing behind. In 2013 it’s predicted to be around K12 million.
Despite our ambition for nationhood and despite this alarming financial gap, our people still run around desiring compensation for crisis-created losses.
The few businessmen we have are reluctant to pay tax, loudly calling for compensation for all they lost amidst the ten-year old conflict.
We all lost.
As ordinary Bougainvilleans around my area, the Tumpusiong Valley near Panguna, see it, our politicians ignore the fact they are public figures who should lead the Bougainville people by example to really respect the issues we fought and died for on our island.
To most of us, painfully observing the shit in Bougainville politics, many of our politicians and bureaucrats do not live by the values and directives of the offices they hold.
Many public officials are an eyesore and nuisance to the community. They do not uphold the principles our people died for, instead leading Bougainville into the realm of corruption and personal prestige and power.
In these desperate times, leadership is challenging since the people are also powerful, perhaps more powerful than the government itself.
The people in the Tumpusiong Valley vote people who are weak into power; or we get old timers who had not walked with us through the path of the crisis.
They easily put on PNG shoes to play the game since they do not share the vision of those of us who suffered.
Many ABG parliamentarians are noted by the ordinary people as looters of the public offices they hold.
For reasons well known to lawyers, I won’t name names.
Many Bougainvilleans dream to lead Bougainville; yet they lack the power to influence and educate. It is about time Bougainvilleans start practicing leadership on their own families.
When Deputy Administrator Andrew Pisi died in 2007, his extended family members of Moroni village in Panguna came and ransacked the Administration office in Arawa.
They walked away with office materials like computers, furniture and a vehicle - nearly a million kina’s worth of loot.
With the death of Chief Administrator, Peter Tsiamalili, in late 2007, his family appropriated his official vehicle; all efforts to get it returned failed.
This problem was also present with two former ABG presidents. Presidents have entitlements when leaving office but it should be noted that family members of the pair went beyond the entitlements.
When the first ABG president, Joseph Kabui, passed away in mid 2008, his official vehicle was locked at his residence in Hutjena as a bargaining tool for the release of entitlements. But when the entitlement was honoured, the ABG vehicle was not returned.
The question is: ‘Are leaders and ordinary people interested in saving Bougainville for the benefit and betterment of future generations?’
Ordinary people of Bougainville struggle to make ends meet, yet our lazy leaders leave office with wealth and tell people their island needs more money to run.
With this trend, more money for the island will mean more corruption and possible derailing of Bougainville’s progress to independence.
Can the current Bougainville President, John Momis, and Administrator, Raymond Masono, change this?
I wonder when the ABG will start getting out amongst the people of Bougainville and finding out what their thoughts are about their island.