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Accountability will make Nigeria work again

By Emmanuel Okoroafor
04 April 2021   |   2:58 am
To make Nigeria work again will not depend on the choice of candidates for President, Governors, Senators, House of Representatives, the usual politicos, but rather on public office holders

To make Nigeria work again will not depend on the choice of candidates for President, Governors, Senators, House of Representatives, the usual politicos, but rather on public office holders that accept accountability for their offices. Not a few members of the elite care about the characters of our public officers. They go to any length to get their candidates to get into public offices. They follow it up by securing “jobs for the boys and girls” that made it happen. That is the reason for the carnage of impunity, looting of the treasury and reckless unaccountability that pervade every level of government in this country. This has been the case for so long. And the rest of us Nigerians can only look on helplessly and wonder why the country is not working, why things keep going from bad to worse. No one seems to have an answer to how to make Nigeria work again to become a country every one of us will be proud of.

Some consider setting up businesses, private schools and universities, private medical clinics and hospitals, as worthy contributions, and answers to the ills of Nigeria. Yes, they are notable patriotic contributions, but one must not forget that such contributions are hardly novelties: many in the past had done the same, and some still do. But their best efforts and worthy contributions did not advance Nigeria in any way; rather the country has been on the path of regression from its colonial epoch. 

In Lion King, the vultures repeatedly asked one another: “What are we gonna do, what are we gonna do?” Such is the predicament of Nigerians, notably the educated class. Most Nigerians are so fed up with hearing or reading about the country´s ills that on social media platforms, they tell their compatriots to stop complaining, stop whinnying and do something about it instead. Sadly, most people seem not to know what to do. They have no idea where to start from.

The starting point is recognising and accepting that Nigeria’s major malady is a lack of accountability in every sphere of the country’s life; acknowledging that it is the absence of accountability that breeds and reinforces all manners of ills and malfeasance in Nigeria, that is the starting point. 

Accountability is the ability and/or duty to report (or give an account of) events, tasks, and experiences. Accountability is the sine qua non for a functional organization or society. Without it, it is difficult to get people to take ownership of their actions. Where it is lacking, impunity reigns, because people will not face any consequence for their action or inaction. In business, organisations that follow the principles of accountability―transparency, participation, evaluation, and feedback―tend to be more successful.

Accountability lies at the heart of democratic government. Strong accountability matters―when it works, it benefits everyone. It enables people to know how the government is doing, and how to gain redress when things go wrong. It ensures that public officers and servants are acting in the interests of the people they serve. Thus, it increases the trustworthiness and legitimacy of the State in the eyes of the public. And it does improve governance, by generating incentives for responsible individuals to act in the interest of the public. Sometimes, this means that ‘heads must roll’ following a major failure. It is needless to say that a healthy system of accountability promotes improvements in how government works.

Nigeria and its citizens should wholeheartedly engender a culture of accountability, embrace, and accept it as a way of life, and consistently requested it of everyone all the time. Accountability does not connote punishment; rather, it is an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions. Henry Evans, the author of Winning with Accountability, describes accountability as “Clear commitments that—in the eyes of others—have been kept.” To this, one may add these two components: 

• Answerability – which means providing information and justification for how one’s actions align with expectations. 

• Enforcement – which means being subject to and accepting the consequences of failing to meet these expectations.
Accountability does not happen by chance. It must be implemented. Gordon Tredgold shared a few tips about accountability that everyone needs to know:

• To create a culture of accountability, it got to start with you. You want people to take ownership, then you must be seen to take ownership. When you make commitments, you have to be seen to meet those commitments. If you do not, then why should anyone else be interested in doing so? You must walk the talk if you want others to follow you along the accountability path.

• As a leader, you are accountable for any failure, as well as any success that your community or organisation may have. Accountability comes as part of the job description, which is why, if you try to duck it, it will harm the levels of accountability that already exist.
• Accountability is not a one-time, sometime thing; it is an all-time thing. Those people who do not want to be accountable, or be held accountable, are always looking for opportunities to get out of it. Any slip or gap in your accountability will give them the leeway to only be accountable when they deem fit. You need to be seen to be always accountable.
• When you are looking to hold people accountable, there is no room for favouritism. Accountability must be consistently requested of everyone, all the time. If you chose to let one person ignore their accountabilities, then it opens the door for others to be selectively accountable too.

• You cannot delegate accountability. Accountability is something that must be accepted for that person to feel accountable and to have them take ownership. 

When people do not take accountability and things, start to go awry, as they do not feel ownership, they go into spectator mode and watch things fail. If they thought it would fail from the outset, it is even worse; they go into ¨I told you so¨ mode, which nearly always becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Where people take ownership, if things start to go wrong, they step into solution mode. They start to try and figure out what is going wrong and try to fix it. In business, successful teams are full of people that go into solution mode. They are full of people who not only care but take care. It is reckoned that accountability is the single biggest differentiator between successful and unsuccessful teams.

•You cannot just tell people they are accountable and then leave them to it. Yes, it may work for some, but not for all. You have to check in and see how people are doing. This serves two main purposes:

• Letting them know that they will be held accountable for the activities.

•  Offers an opportunity to provide support in case things start to go awry, as well as to offer praise and encouragement when if things are going well.

Thus, Accountability is a task that must be worked at, and with a clear and consistent strategy on how it is going to be implemented and validated. 

It starts with you, and it must always apply and to everyone. By simply reporting or speaking up when things go wrong or are not what they should be, you are holding someone to account. So, there is something every Nigerian can do to hold everyone accountable. 

When we can do that, it will help us create a culture where the society will start to hold itself and others accountable, and this culture of accountability, which will have a massive impact on making Nigeria work again.