Accountability-between a docile masses and thieving public officers

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One of the greatest challenges militating against our democracy which I have identified is the issue of the led not holding their leaders to account. This has created multifarious problem the greatest of which is corruption. When leaders feel that they are not accountable to anybody or would not be challenged to account for their leadership they run riot against all. Sadly, we run a system where there is a mass of illiterates, few unconcerned enlightened fellows, docile and nonchalant masses against wild, voracious, corrupt, thieving public officials.

Appropriately, there is supposed to be entrenched in every process an inbuilt mechanism that is supposed to ensure control and protect the system from collapse. All of these are found in our establishments but in reality they are circumvented deliberately or made to fail by human effort. All of these human contrivances occur because the perpetrators are certain that they can do this without consequences since no one would raise an eye brow.

I think it is a cultural thing that we do not get our public officers to account for their performance in office. Even at the domestic level how many of us as parents get our children to account for their performances in school or for the bills that we pay. We either think it is unnecessary or feign lack of time. We are more negligent over this especially when we have abundance of resources and there is a surplus to fall back on if wastes occur. This is exactly the case with us as a nation.

The seeming everlasting oil revenue indulges us into wasteful and unnecessary spending but the experiences of the moment appear to be awakening our consciousness to prudent management. No matter how much we preach or pretend it, lack of accountability and transparency is more pronounced in the public than in the private sector. The managers of business in the private sector knows they will account to those who have injected their resources and since their successes determine their growth, stay or withdrawal in the organization they get more committed to produce the desired results.

This is unlike the politicians who owe their loyalty to a certain god father or the millions they injected to win election. The perception that government business is no man’s business holds sway and greatly influences virtually every business activity in the public sector. Some years ago, one of Nigeria’s prolific writers and author of ‘Things Fall Apart’, the legendary Chinua Achebe of blessed memory had earlier dimensioned Nigeria’s problem as belonging to the realm of bad leadership.

Providing right leadership remains a basic and critical tool in the management of the affairs of men. The leader is like the head of the body. It is said that when the head is sick every other part of the body is also deceased. This is typical of the scene playing out in the affairs of Nigeria. We have never gotten it right in this area and this is the reason poverty and lacks have continued to embarrass us even with the various changes experienced in leadership.

The process of throwing up the leadership is even faulty and so the system itself cannot give what it does not have. Bad leadership manifests in the form of corruption, election rigging, mediocrity, nepotism, and other forms of negative indices. The depth and magnitude of bad leadership which manifests at all levels of governance in all aspects of our national life is exemplified by the fact that each succeeding administration in the country’s affairs has never fared better than the government it succeeded. There could be very few exceptions though.

A factor that plays out which impedes the idea of accountability is the perception the masses hold of our leaders and also the perception of the leaders against the electorates. This is different from the places we copied the so called democracy we are practicing. In the advanced societies leadership roles are seen as opportunities to serve and do great things for ones fatherland.

Here it is opportunity to serve ourselves and jettison others. Worst, the people view the leaders as a privileged class that must be worshipped and revered, who must never be questioned even when it is clear they are stealing us blind. We fear that if we open our mouths to ask questions they would withdraw their provisions and punish us. There is fear of insecurity. We are more concerned with our lives now forgetting that the reckless actions and decisions of the leaders will hunt our children tomorrow.

Who else but our children that are going to bear the brunt of the loans we are securing now and not put to good use. In like manner the so called leaders also view the electorates as conquered people who should not question their activities but accept what they see because they hold the knife and the yam and can only give to whoever they wish.

They impoverish the people; make them weak and feeble by looting the common wealth which turns them beggarly leaving them with no choice than to crave for the crumbs that fall from the masters table. Indirectly through this culture of silence over evil we give a nod to corruption. When there is accountability there is the likelihood that things will be done much more transparently.

And when this is the case we are likely to stem corruption. Today the activities of government are not transparent. Everything is done under cover. The people for whom government activities are meant for are not given the opportunity to know or make input on issues concerning them. There should be some injection of private sector practices to make the public sector more efficient and effective. Imagine the way some bills are smuggled in and hurriedly passed just to meet some interests.   

Experience has shown that the masses have been so tolerant of all the ills of government yet they remain the losers and some selfish ones turn praise singers seeing nothing wrong in what goes on. While they feast from the crumbs that fall from their masters table they forget that they have kits and kin who also suffer. Have you ever seen the recall of any legislator by any constituency in spite of all the rubbish they indulge in? It is necessary to remind that those who shield corrupt government officials are also accomplices and will profit from their punishment. People should begin to ask questions and challenge unpopular policies of the government. Sadly, the activities of civil society groups and human rights activists have shrinked considerably. It is time we take our destiny in our hands. However, what the society turns out is entirely our own making. The docile masses should wake from their slumber and roar against the thieving politicians and they would flee.

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