voice for democracy

Achieving a responsibility-centred democracy — Opinion — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News – Guardian

Sir: Going by the wisdom of the sage, great leaders are characterised by their ability to create positive impacts on the lives of their subjects. They achieve this feat by placing heavy emphasis on the understanding that the economy would look after itself if democracy is protected; human rights are adequately taken care of, and the rule of law strictly adhered to.
In effect, their nation’s affairs are centrally planned over a period of time with their actions outlined for both normal and contingency conditions. By contrast, for Nigeria, like other nations with not-too-impressive leadership, in addition to non-possession of these attributes, mistake coexistence with harmony. Nigerians on their part successively failed to access the traditional but universal responsibility of questioning those in authority, a role which participatory democracy and election conferred on them.
There are countless examples of how government daily disconnects from the people, the first being their inabilities to recognise that public order, personal and national security, economic and social programmes and prosperity is not the natural order of things but depends on the ceaseless efforts and attention from an honest and effective government that the people elect.
Another element fueling the practice is the barefaced illusion by leaders that they are more nationalistic or patriotic than other citizens. Forgetting that globally, individuals, groups and communities have a right in decision making, planning and implementation of programmes that affect them – and the government has a duty to enable people affected by its policies and programmes to participate in ways capable of transforming their social, political and economic conditions rather than merely using them as instruments to legitimise predetermined goals and priorities.
Not only did the research report argue that for the advantaged (Haves) to remove the obstacles that the disadvantaged (have-nots) face, they must first, recognise that these obstacles exist, it submitted that such recognition must entail the advantaged seeing the world from the disadvantaged perspective.
But considering the present reality that we are in a country where public office is considered as an opportunity for promoting private gains as against the public good, can our leaders ever see the disadvantaged (have nots) perspectives?
Substantially, the culture of money politics has turned ‘consent of the electorates’ into a commodity to be purchased by the highest bidder and as an effect renders public offices responsibility-free. Having paid for the votes cast, leaders conclude that they owe the people no obligation.
In the final analysis, in the interest of harmony is to be vigilantly guarded, there are vital points that leaders of our nation must not fail to remember and they are in this order; when we serve, we rule; when we give, we have; and when we surrender totally to selfless service, we become victors.
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the programme coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos.


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