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‘Its time to hold politicians, office holders accountable’

By Kehinde Olatunji
27 November 2019   |   4:22 am
Experts have noted that it was time both the electorate and civil society organisations began to demand good governance from those elected in last February general election in order to have a better country.

Chairman, Men Missionary Union, NHBC, Dr. Afolabi Campos (left), Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, Mr. Wale Ajani, Deacon Olufemi Aladejebi, and Member of the political summit, Dayo Orolu

Experts have noted that it was time both the electorate and civil society organisations began to demand good governance from those elected in last February general election in order to have a better country. They stressed that the demand for good governance should be at its peak now and politicians and those appointed into political offices should be held accountable to deliver on their promises.

The pundits noted that it was time Nigerians began to reap the benefits of democracy, which they listed as tolerance, rule of law, freedom of expression, accountability, and transparency of government officials among others.

These views were expressed at a post-election parley tagged “After Election: What Next?” organised by New Heritage Baptist Church in Lagos. The experts also urged youths to engage in advocacy, consultation and be actively involved in politics in their respective regions ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Specifically, the gubernatorial candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Mr. Jimi Agbaje, noted that after election, both the civil society and the electorate should organise themselves to ensure that the political class delivers the dividends of democracy.

He said: “The civil society and the electorate should organise themselves in a way to ensure that the political class delivers dividends of democracy. After elections, people shouldn’t just go back to their homes. The civil society, political class, and the electorate have roles to play.

“There is need for accountability from those that occupy political offices. This way, the political class will sit up. We are also saying that more credible people who want to deliver, offer dividends of democracy, those who seek power for service rather than for self should show more interest in politics, so that we don’t get the wrong people to govern us.

“We have a docile but resolute younger generation. They should be able to demand accountability from those who they put in offices. They must begin to show that they want dividends of democracy.”

Secretary of Transportation in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Kayode Opeifa, noted that before the next election there should be advocacy, networking and citizenship and community participation.

“Young people should get off the block and start marketing their potential, not selling it,” he said. “You will not be recognised by your age. What matters is the combination of your youthfulness, activism and participation in your community and the political party you belong to. More importantly, it is time to stay with God, because out there is tough; only those who stay with God will survive.”

He described the #Not-Too-Young-To-Run Act as a fraud, contending that age had never been a barrier to holding political office in the country. He said elections are not won based on age, but rather on active participation in political matters and antecedents built over a period of time. He further advised youths to make themselves more visible in political matters if they must be taken seriously.

“Nobody will yield power to you because you’re young,” he noted. “The fact is youths below the age of 30 have always played important roles in Nigeria’s political development, even before the bill was passed. So, I don’t see what the noise is all about. Most of us joined politics at very tender age and contributed our quota. It was quite an easy transition for us because even at the university, we were quite active. We didn’t wait for older politicians to relinquish power because they also mentored us and saw our antecedents.”

Also, Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa, noted that accountability was key to driving the development Nigerians desire, saying politics is about good governance and not just elections.

“How many of us know how to hold politicians accountable?” he asked. “How many of us know where their offices are? How many of us have ever written a letter to a politician after an election? There is need to participate in politics after election. Political parties have started their meeting. How many of us have registered for membership so that we could understand what politics really is?”

Global Advisor, United Nations Population Fund, Mr. Wale Ajani, noted that it was time everyone got involved in politics. However, he stressed that the electorate, because of excessive demands, put politicians under undue stress most times.

According to him, “Sometimes, the electorate put the politicians under pressure that what they only think of is how to make money. However, after elections the electorate needs to put searchlight on the elected officers. It is not only those elected, but also those that are appointed. We should be asking them, ‘what are they doing to make life better?’ How do we monitor them, ask them questions, and challenge them?”

Also, youth and teenager Pastor, Ikotun Adebisi, urged youths to develop good character and competence needed to transform society.

“A lot of them (youths) have charisma, intellect but they lack character,” he noted. “They must learn to develop integrity and a profound character, and with these attributes they will be well placed anywhere in the world.”

He lamented that the country’s political system is structured to discourage youth’s participation, adding, “Basically, the way politics is structured in Nigeria is designed to keep the youths away. The cost of running politics in the country is high. How do you imagine a young graduate who has love for his country and yet to be employed raise millions of naira to buy ticket of a political party? This is deliberate.

“We need to structure the cost of running government in this country beginning from the process that leads to the emergence of our leaders at ward levels, so see how we can make it less about money but more of integrity, skill and proficiency in what people do. Those who are old in politics should begin to see how they could mentor the next generation and give them the support they need.”

In his keynote address, Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, who was represented by Bashir Abiola-Are, stated that what happens after an election is that everybody goes to sleep until the next four years, lamenting, “Citizens’ participation and demand for accountability become almost zero. Many of those who can talk and be heard want something from those in government and the civic space becomes constricted.

“After election, we should have more engaged citizens who should hold the feet of those in leadership position to the fire. The demand for good governance should increase and politicians should be held accountable to deliver on their promises.”

He added that political parties should organise and engage in citizens’ education and enlightenment on their programmes for the party in power, and those in opposition should not wait till the next elections.

“The civil society organisations should deepen the civic space by getting more involved with citizens and expose the ills in government where necessary for better performance,” he summed up.

Dare, however, urged the citizens to help those elected to succeed in their various assignments, noting, “Fact is, there are challenges of governance, especially in the areas of meeting the needs of the people in the face of limited resources. We must sustain the debate and continually have contestation of ideas when debating government’s policies and programmes. I recognise that those in government do not know it all; that is why we must use our influence as a group, faith organisations, and individuals with access to those in power to influence them in a positive way.”

Chairman of the Planning Committee of the summit, Deacon Olufemi Aladejebi, said there was need for the church to encourage members to participate in politics and fulfill their civic obligations. He said the summit was to create awareness among church members, neighborhoods and Christians so that they could participate in politics, public governance and make informed decisions on political matters.