Our Voices Have Been Heard

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

One of our frontline politicians in the National Assembly was quoted to have said that 'one of his greatest achievements in the National Assembly is that our voices have been heard'. By that he meant that he has spoken on behalf of his people and his voice was heard in the parliament.

And so the voices of the people for whom he is representing have been heard. One begins to think about the reality of a voice being heard and what precisely was said. The practice of democracy involves representation; hence democracy has a representative character. It is always being defined as 'the government of the people by the people and for the people'.

Some people are given the mandate to represent the interest of the majority and speak on their behalf. [t is a sacred trust. And so the onus lies with the people. It is also the interest of the people that should determine the ebb and flow of governance.

Therefore a meaningful representation must take cognizance of the people in the sacredness of their rights. And so when one says that 'our voices have been heard' in our context, one begins to wonder what has happened.

Does the Parliamentarian wants to tell us that he / she has represented our interest properly at the National Assembly? And what is that interest precisely? And how has that representation impacted in the life of the people for whose mandate the Parliamentarians are sitting and eating at Abuja? How can the voices of the Parliamentarians at the Assembly translates into the voices of the people when there are hardly any points of contacts and mutual exchanges between the people and their so called representatives?

True democracy at all levels of governance ought to have inbuilt-mechanisms of correspondence between the people and their representatives.

In our contexts, Town Hall Meetings and the Constituency Offices are the most popular channels of contact between the people and their representatives.

But who understands the workings of these channels? How often does a Councillor for example call members of his Ward for a meeting and interactions? How does the man or woman at the State Assembly who does not have any office within his constituency interact with his people, for whose interest his / her voice would be heard in the Assembly? Or what of the demi-gods at the National Assembly; whom are they representing?

They have moribund and non-functional Constituency Offices, with no staff, no agenda and no regard for the sensibility of the people for whom they pretend to represent? How can the voices, if any, of such arrogant politicians, who have their heads at Abuja without their feet at home, be the voices of the people? Do they have the feelings of the people they are representing? Do they know their needs?

It is a parody of representation when the so called political leaders and stakeholders who have the mandate of the people do not know the people of their representations in their needs and their priorities.

In this way, there is no way their voices can be the voices of the people.

The sheep knows and recognizes the voices of their shepherds and not that of brigands!



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