Citizens or Politicians: Who Should Call the Shots In Nigeria?, By Ademola Adeoye
In saner climes, the office of the citizen is higher than the highest political office in the land. The citizens are supposed to be calling the shots, not those who are voted into power. As a citizen, you are superior to any politician you vote into power. You are the employer, while he or she is the employee.
On September 10, 2017, I was inside my home, keeping an eye on how the United States of America was responding appropriately to Hurricane Irma that was destructively sweeping through the state of Florida. It left me cringing and thinking almost at the same time. I cringed because the nation that is affected is a developed one. Also, it made me think real hard when I remembered my fatherland. I asked myself a series of questions: “If what is happening to America were to be happening to Nigeria right now, how in this world are we going to live to tell the tale? How prepared are we for global mishaps as a people? Are we ever thinking of what to do in case such hits us as a nation?” I do not think so.
It was while I was dancing between the two ladies of ravishing cringe and fastidious thought that I switched my phone on to have a look at what was going in the world of social media. As an effect of this, I decided to stroll for a few minutes on the dusty streets of Facebook. While looking here and there, I saw on the timeline of a friend, Seun Okinbaloye that he would be interviewing one of the senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the finger-pointing and accusation of Professor Itse Sagay against the eighth National Assembly that they are sucking life out of the wheezing country. Right before the whole world, our honourable senator stylishly danced round the market without buying anything. He refused to answer the interviewer. It was clear as water that Seun, in a point of fact, wanted him to put Prof. Sagay wrong by giving our esteemed citizens the true figure of the take home pay of each senator of the federal republic. The spokesman for the eighth Assembly said that Prof. Sagay is deceiving Nigerians, but he refused to disclose how much each senator goes home with monthly.
About a year ago, a senator was brought on a radio station to uncover the same issue that Senator Sabi tactically avoided for about twenty minutes. It is only in Nigeria that those who are voted into power feel higher than those who vote them into power. It is only in Nigeria that holding a public servant accountable within the confines of our constitution is seen as a religious sin that would later attract the punishment of God. It is only in Nigeria that employees (politicians) are superior to their employers (citizens). It is only in Nigeria that citizens sleep on the floor, while their representatives (politicians) sleep on “water beds.” It is only in Nigeria that those who are voted into power are recession-proof, while those who vote them into power are daily languishing in the hot-hell of hunger.
Let me leave the issue of Senator Sabi for a while and talk about the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Since the president came into power, he has only had one media chat with the citizenry. This clearly shows that he does not respect those who voted him into power. Also, the Federal Executive Council meeting has been cancelled twice in recent times. He spent over a hundred days beyond the shores of Nigeria without his employers knowing what was actually happening to him, their employee. How do we hold the senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria accountable for how much they are pocketing when the president has not deemed it fit to tell those who voted him into power how much was spent on him in the United Kingdom?
Who exactly calls the shots in Nigeria? The politicians or the citizens? Immediately our politicians are voted into power, they become larger than life and bigger than the constitution of our beloved country. While seeking votes, they can affect the cheap populism of eating popcorns, plantain chips and drinking sachets of pure water, but immediately they access political power, the sons of nobody that they sat with yesterday are not able to sit with them anymore.
I challenge Prof Sagay to put the same searchlight that is being put on the legislature also on the executive branch. I believe very strongly in the principle of fairness. Can we demand for how much every component of the executive goes home with every month? It is only in Nigeria that people do not care how the nation is being governed.
In saner climes, the office of the citizen is higher than the highest political office in the land. The citizens are supposed to be calling the shots, not those who are voted into power. As a citizen, you are superior to any politician you vote into power. You are the employer, while he or she is the employee. And it is your alienable right to know how you are being governed daily. It is your constitutional right to know how much those who are elected to serve you are being paid. Politicians are not doing you any favour in constructing fairly-good roads, supplying water twice monthly, giving four hours of electric power supply daily, etc. The truth is: You deserve more than you are being given!
On the condition that you will not demand for what is constitutionally yours, it will not be given to you. It is high time you started to demand for what you voted those who are currently in power to do. You deserve to be respected by every elected public servant. You are supposed to be calling the shots, not them.
Ademola Adeoye is a public affairs analyst.