For those who seek and desire a greater Nigeria, we welcome the evolving critical challenge in public spaces, we accept the amplifying public voices of independent-minded people determined to change this country by improving public services, insisting on transparency, accountability and responsibility.


Change is gradual but constant. Let those who serve in public office and private organisations be on notice that there is an evolving culture of public scrutiny in the polity and social media is leading the charge. People have access to information, they see development all around the world and are able to make comparisons. The more they understand their rights and the power of their voices, the more they will make their voices heard against the few who exploit them for minority gains. Let those who think they are gods beware!

The evolving culture of public scrutiny is a rising demand for accountability and responsibility. Even if alien to us, given the level of our degeneration in the last two decades, accountability in public life is not a choice, but an obligation. When you serve the needs of many, in a position of trust, you must accept responsibility for your actions. One of my favourite aphorisms is that accidents are caused; they don’t just happen. In Nigeria, almost everyone has the mindset that accidents are not caused, they happen by themselves or are engineered by malevolent forces. It is the reason why no one takes ownership nor responsibility for accidents like project failures, security breaches, bad work ethic, disgraceful customer service, malingering and other common ills.

As a public servant, every incident on your watch is your responsibility. You own it, it is a reflection of your management skills. Management is not the ownership of power alone, it is also the ownership of responsibility. This perception must be part of the organisational culture in our local government, state agencies and the federal government. Every organisational failure is another example of incompetence. We cannot achieve excellence if we do not admit failures and learn from them.

Living in the public eye has its pitfalls and temptations, as well as attractions. Accepting to serve has its responsibilities. You must comb your past for kinks and admit to them. Even teenage indiscretions must be admitted, lest they come back to bite. The offence or crime is often not as bad as the cover up. Whoever accepts to serve must do the self-examination first. Being placed on a pedestal or taking on a public role has its requirements. When on a pedestal, as an object, you may turn out not to be as shiny as believed. Be prepared!

Long suffering Nigerians demand openness, transparency and leadership by example. Public servants owe it to Nigerians to accept it when they are wrong and apologise, instead of doubling down or looking for more dirty ways of concealing dirt. A transparent public servant is not defensive, reactive, overly cautious or seeking to manage the media.


The exit of Mrs. Kemi Adeosun shows that publicity is a powerful disinfectant. PREMIUM TIMES dug into her National Youth Service Certificate (NYSC) issue and it exposed one of the abuses in the system that can be fixed. Yet again, PREMIUM TIMES highlighted the role of the press in exposing abuses, corruption, injustice, and rot, as a potent and honourable responsibility. In the age of social media, information is available to everyone at an instant.

Long suffering Nigerians demand openness, transparency and leadership by example. Public servants owe it to Nigerians to accept it when they are wrong and apologise, instead of doubling down or looking for more dirty ways of concealing dirt. A transparent public servant is not defensive, reactive, overly cautious or seeking to manage the media. An upright public officer encourages a culture of openness and disseminates information to the public and lets them be the judge.

You cannot expect to escape any criminal behaviour for which an ordinary person is prosecuted because you are a public servant. No one wants to fall from a pedestal with the attendant loss of status, respect and prestige. We know that. That is why prevention is better than cure. That is why Nigerians are now up in arms against government officials long used to intimidation and harassment when confronted with their less than honourable conduct. President Buhari’s chief of staff has been accused of using the Department of State Services (DSS) to intimidate his enemies. Many in government often use the police and the military to hound and harrass whoever they have issues with. The groundswell of awareness among Nigerian publics shows they are no longer going to tolerate the abuse of power, and of office.

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Exposure and accountability are the price of public office. Whoever is unwilling to pay it should remain a private citizen. Public office comes with so much power. The custodians are expected to be above board, and be clear of illegal and unethical acts. We chose them and charged them to uphold the Constitution, to discharge duties on our behalf and to be fair to all.


For those flummoxed about the rising awareness for accountability, it is our civic duty to call public figures to account. Those who govern us routinely make decisions that affect our livelihoods, quality of life and security of lives and property. Exposure to the public spotlight is our only defence against white-collar crime, corruption, bribery and the abuse of power. There is increasing awareness that every voice is essential for preventing social crimes. Nobody is born to become a public figure. We the people put them there to work for us. Whether people are selected, appointed or elected, they accepted to serve of their own free will. When they do, they forfeit their privacy, either out of a desire to serve their people, or for the rewards public office brings.

Exposure and accountability are the price of public office. Whoever is unwilling to pay it should remain a private citizen. Public office comes with so much power. The custodians are expected to be above board, and be clear of illegal and unethical acts. We chose them and charged them to uphold the Constitution, to discharge duties on our behalf and to be fair to all. In addition, we expect them to be clean of wrongdoing, and be above suspicion. For their conduct and service, we reward them with a lifetime of local and foreign contacts that translates into tangible rewards, gives them liberal benefits in and out of service in addition to the power, honour and respect that has made public life one of the most profitable ventures in Nigeria.

For those who seek and desire a greater Nigeria, we welcome the evolving critical challenge in public spaces, we accept the amplifying public voices of independent-minded people determined to change this country by improving public services, insisting on transparency, accountability and responsibility. A greater Nigeria is possible if and when failure to meet goals, objectives and expectations are met with consequences. In the words of Chris Edmonds, “The reality is that, without consequence management, you are not leading, you are creating chaos.”

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo