By KELVIN JOE
DELIRA Momo was only 28 when people approached him to be their ward councilor in the Koari Rural local level government in Kairuku Hiri, Central.
He told them it was out of the question because he had a permanent job in Port Moresby and just started a family.
“They wanted me to be their councilor. They had trust in me to lead them. But I told them I have a young family and a job in the city.”
His resistance did not last long however. In 2013, he relented and successfully contested the ward council elections. He retained the seat in 2019. Delira, 35 is married to Magret Sei from Gaire. They have three children.
He attended Goldie River Community School in 1989 and completed Grade Six in 1994. But he left school after Grade 10 at the Laloki Secondary School in 2000 because of school fee issues. He was employed by PNG Concrete Aggregates as a supervisor for more than five years. But during one his annual leaves, he was asked by the people to be their ward councilor. He had no choice but to accept.
“Now I am happy to serve my people even though we don’t get allowances on time and no funding made available for community-based development.”
He has already negotiated a K1.5 million five-year infrastructure development funding involving five projects. The first one is a water project Goldie River is no longer safe to use.
Then he will focus on education and health services.
He also negotiated the upgrading of a road from Goldie Barracks to Osabewai village for K1.3 million.
He was also behind the building of a footbridge funded by the AusAid programme to connect Osabeiwai and Madoguba villages in 2019.
“The villagers are excited because in the past it was not safe for the elderly, women and children to cross during floods.”
He had feared that as a first-timer in political leadership, people would eventually turn against him.
“But as times passed, I got confident and knew that the people gave me power to lead them.”
Delira began to realise the hardship associated with the leadership role especially on law and order issues.
“There were lots of offensive weapons I had to remove from people to stop conflicts. The work of community leaders, councilors and village magistrates are very challenging and risky. They face a lot of hardship daily but always managed to keep the people in order.”
He gets paid K200 fortnightly although it is always late.
“It can be delayed for up to six months, even 10 months.
“Sometimes my wife and children ask me to resign and find a decent job. But I don’t want to give up even when we don’t have money.”
Delira feels he has a duty to serve the people.
“I am looking forward to completing the community hall through the initiative of the former councilor to use it as my office so that all council work will be done there.”
There are about 450 people in his ward and he knows every man, woman and child by name.
“I now believe in myself that I can lead the people with confidence and meet their expectation whenever it is necessary.
“Sometimes I cannot eat and sleep well at night thinking about the people. I open my house to everyone. I told my wife that our house is for all, share whatever we have with everyone and not hide things from them.”
The people have certainly made the right choice for their leader.
By KELVIN JOE