It is the duty of the citizens to actively check the activities of the leadership to watch for government excesses
By Joseph Agunbiade
As Nigeria prepares for another general election, it is important to note that by the end of the tenure of the next president, we would have spent 24 years under democratic rule. While some may want to dismiss any argument on the basis that we are a young nation, we must not forget that unlike in other centuries when we had a limited number of examples to follow, today, we have a plethora of governance models to copy. Countries such as Singapore rose from extreme poverty with hardly any natural resources to rank among the most significant economies in the world.
One major challenge we had was the British Colonization of Nigeria. And although some of our heroes past fought for our freedom, we had barely started to get our footing when the military coup strike which aborted our numerous opportunities to build a powerful institution and infrastructure needed to grow both our political and economic institutions.
Then came the second wave of ‘heroes of democracy’ that themselves are the products of the same extractive political and economic institutions that although they succeeded in “Saving us” have created an extractive channel for their prosperity at the expense of the people. And the society is built by learning from leadership, we have succeeded in producing a “generation of men with brains, men with stomachs, men without chests and no heart.” – C.S. Lewis
Today it has become challenging to hold public office holders accountable because of the nature of our weak institutions shrouded in secrecy and lack of transparency.
And just like most global examples we know, our natural resources which were supposed to be the seed funding for our new startup nation, is now gradually plundered by the same men who once fought to liberate us.
The dream of democracy is to create inclusive economic and political institutions which include free and fair elections, an independent judiciary, uncorrupt legislative and executive branches. And just as the evolution of democratic structures set the stage for the growth of inclusive economic and political institutions in England. We must decide as active citizens to use the forthcoming election as bait to demand that whoever is going to lead us must sign an explicit contract only to do what will bring us the prosperity we deserve, and, not just what they want to do for us.
Now is the time to get the potential political leaders to agree to beneficial schemes like OPEN CONTRACTING that makes all procurement and contracts transparent, make the BUDGET OPEN and every bit of the public finance transparent and be accountable. And should they fail to keep their promises, be prepared to resign?
Every Citizen must understand what governance is, and, what it is not. That a political leader, either elected or appointed, is selected to represent the people and not become an untouchable King.
We must become Active Citizens that demands what is rightly ours. Ask questions, write petitions and if possible sue a political leader for lying to us.
The process of demanding accountability is not a passive one. No politician does anything for the people. No! They are a part of us and if they fail should be recalled.
Town hall meetings must be a regular practice and demanded by the citizens at least every quarter. The citizens must have a benchmark against both our political and economic expectations. And only then and then will the fight to get our political leaders to become more accountable get started.
Editorial Note: This article was originally published in The Spark Magazine. Find the magazine here to read other articles.