Voice to the People ...?

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

One bitter experience of our practice of democracy in Nigeria is the indifference of the citizens over the actions of government and that of the so called stakeholders and representatives of the people.

The citizens do not feel themselves concerned about the policies and decisions of government. Sometimes they are ignorant about government decisions and programmes of actions.

On her part the government presumes that she is carrying everybody along having made use of the state arsenals for information. Most times there is a dis-connect; the people and the government are on their different lanes.

Probably the information did not get to the grass-root. The so-called representatives at the various levels of government do not do their work. Even when they try to do a few shoddy things they are used to, the people do not feel involved.

Everybody goes about his or her daily business. The result is aparthy about government. Another consequence is that the government would go on doing its own business without any forms of checks and balances from the people.

This is one reason why most of our governments at all levels are corrupt. The people do not ask questions about what concerns them. The government throws caution to the winds and lives as if it has all the powers.

Its policies and programmes of actions are not known and appreciated by the people. We discover a situation where the people do not feel parts and parcel of the state and the government itself does not go the extra-mile to reverse this oddity.

The attitude is that of 'you are there and we are here', each doing his or her own thing without recourse to the other. Take for instance, the government has awarded a road contract in a community to a construction firm, and the people do not know about this contract.

The contractor begins the work without any input from the community. He gets the money from the government and signs documents that the contract has been accomplished, when he has scarcely begun.

The result is that the road is abandoned; The government has failed in its supervisory roles and has paid the contractor in error. The people continue to grumble about their roads and suffer the hazards of such a bad road.

And this scenario has repeated itself severally among us in so many communities.

The People's Voice Initiative is that attempt to motivate people in our various communities to rise from their slumber and raise their voices in such matters that concern their welfare.

People should ask questions about what concerns them. The government is the servant of the people and not vice versa. The power belongs indeed to the people.

Even when the government does not care about the rights of the people in the matters of their own interest; the people themselves are encouraged to take the bull by the horn. The people must learn to ask their own questions.

For instance, nothing prevents any citizen from asking the Councillor of his or her ward, what he or she has done about the poor infrastructural situation in their community?

This question can be repeated at all levels of government to all the representatives of the people. And their candid responses are important. Accountability Forum is one in which the people take their representatives to task, asking them about their stewardship all these years.

It is therefore important that the people become aware of their rights and duties to raise their voices and ask questions, whether in the church or in the state about their welfare.

It is your legitimate right and duty to raise objections to the oddity of any system in which your welfare is jeopardized!



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