Politics-too important to be left to the politicians

Politics-too important to be left to the politicians

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 4:32 pm


Olufemi Mosaku Johnson

By Olufemi Mosaku-Johnson

The worst Illiterate is the political Illiterate. He hears nothing, sees nothing, takes no part in political life. He doesn’t seem to know that the cost of living, the price of beans, of flour, of rent, of medicines all depend on political decisions. He even prides himself on his political Ignorance, sticks out his chest and says he hates politics. He doesn’t know, the imbecile, that from his political non-participation comes the prostitute, the abandoned child, the robber and, worst of all, corrupt officials, the lackeys of exploitative multinational corporations’.-Bertolt Brecht

There is an overall reluctance by honest, well-brought-ups and professionals in Nigeria to associate themselves with partisan politics. Among the key reasons is the lack of trust of professionals in their current elected representatives. There is often a perception among professionals and people of incorruptible integrity that politicians are generally corrupt and whoever associates with them is bound to be corrupted. Most often good people say “We are not politicians, we are citizens and we don’t want to be to be stained by politicians and the rigors and complexities of political parties,” They say they want to stay nonpartisan in order to continue to hold politicians accountable.

Yet by refusing to hold political office, professionals and well- meaning people appear to be denying themselves opportunities to participate in policy making and changing the laws. Other problems they face when they want to run for election include intricacies of corruption and lack of democracy within the political parties and eligibility issues. Bribery and corruption involved in being nominated by the parties and holding meetings with people we tag as miscreants.

Professional skills revolution is needed to unlock the potential, the energy, the creativity and the talents of the nation. The professionals group must ensure that the nation fully benefits from the opportunities offered by its knowledge on how to tackle unemployment, through creating jobs, transforming economies, including through diversification, modernising and industrializing agriculture and investing in young people were the ways forward.

We must support professionals and honest people to channel their energy, creativity and aspirations and become political leaders and activists. We must initiate programmes that build young people’s skills, knowledge and confidence while helping them more effectively express their voices, build relationships with political leaders, and break down socio cultural and institutional barriers to participation.

Public office is for service- you don’t need to have money, what you need is integrity, knowledge, probity and honesty of purpose.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Attributed to Edmund Burke, including by John F Kennedy in a speech in 1961

A barely literate person cannot be earning millions in a month, while a professor cannot be earning paltry sum. This is unacceptable. Once a person can force his way to the political office, he can now be a demi-god earning more than people who put up hard work and are building the nation in their own way. There is no legislator that works or produces more than an average primary school teacher who goes to work every day, prepares his teaching note, teaches, prepares the class for examination, conducts examination, counsels, records, examination marks, prepare results etc.

There is dangerous danger, if noble people decide to leave the destiny of the nation to those whose interest is basically the pep, pomp and pageantry of political offices and nothing more. The country is too important to be left to mediocres. Every citizens must be concerned on how they are ruled and governed, how the nation’s resources is being expended, who is getting what, what the politicians must know, do and deliver. Someone cannot just come to the political office without making effort to fulfill the promises made when they are vying for the offices. They should not only be held accountable, but must be seen to be thoroughly accountable. The ear of state governors obtaining states allocation without having to give account is over. An adage says, “he that fries the popcorn for the community, must be whistling”. Everyone must,  as a matter of compulsion and as a matter of necessity be made accountable, including religious leaders, university administrators and lecturers, kings and traditional rulers and NURTW men.

We are not saying that everyone must engage in partisan politics, especially those that want to maintain their integrity and doesn’t want to be stained by the murkiness of the politicians. Yet, all without exception must be concerned about how

Charles De Gaulle (1890-1970)says “Government is too big and too important to be left to the politicians”

Our experience so far, twenty years of full blown democracy, has shown us very clearly that our politicians cannot be trusted with money, resources, time, talents and destinies. They have proved to be terribly unaccountable, uncharacteristic and untoward. 1.9 trillion has been allocated to both house in the last 20 years with little to show for it. We have advocated very strongly for part time legislature as it is done in many countries.

Worldwide, 61% of the countries practice unicameral legislation. Countries such as China, Honduras, Egypt, Finland, Eritrea, Estonia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Ghana Greece, Israel and many more practice unicameral legislation, yet the quality of our legislation is nothing as compared to this countries.

Bicameral. … The word bicameral originates from the Latin bi-, meaning “two,” combined with camera, meaning “chamber.” Chamber is just another way of referring to a legislative branch of a government or other official organization

While the major advantage of a bicameral system is that it can provide for checks and balances and prevent potential abuses of power, it can also lead to the gridlockthat makes the passage of laws difficult. A major advantage of a unicameral system is that laws can be passed more efficiently. A unicameral system may be able to pass legislation too easily, however, and a proposed law that the ruling class supports may be passed even if the majority of citizens do not support it. Special interest groups may be able to influence a unicameral legislature more easily than a bicameral one. Because unicameral systems require fewer legislators than bicameral systems, however, they may require less money to operate. For a country like Nigeria that is battling under the weight of infrastructural deficit, what is good for her is Unicameral, so as to throw the huge money legislators are collecting to the area of dire need like railway system, road maintenance, Hospital and viable educational facilities. Considering the situation of these in place, 10 million employments would immediately be created.

It has been said severally that our legislators, indeed public office holder are the highest paid in the world. What a tragedy! I was discussing this malaise with a serving senator that I met at the Airport. He told me frankly that “Chicken cannot support Christmas” He said it is the citizens that will fight this out as the beneficiaries of this evil cannot fight it.

Are we going to continue to do as if we are not concerned? Or to think that things will change by accident?

We cannot and can no longer put our destinies in the hands of these politicians and go to sleep at home as if everything is alright. If nothing is done now, our future would be worse than today.

If these politicians think we will leave them to continue to do as they wish, they are making a big mistake. We are all stakeholders in this country. We will not open our eyes for debris to enter into it. An adage says’ ‘If you leave a mad person to do as he wish, he will kill his own mother’

We will not all enter into party politics, but as good citizens, we will ensure that the right thing is done, through advocacy, challenge, lawful protest and positive noise making. Rather than creating EFCC and ICPC, we only need to prevent corruption digitally. From my last check, prevention is better than cure. The available checks are as follows: Enhanced Due Diligence, Internal Risk Assessment, Internal Risk Assessment, Natural Ownership Structure / Link, Governance, Risk and Compliance Check, External Check Analysis, Automated Data-Backed Screening.

We must ensure that government at every level deliver on programmes:

 

Growth, including jobs, infrastructure, power, agriculture and financial access.

Governance and social development, including democracy, public management, justice, community security, gender equity and social protection.

Human development, especially health, education, nutrition and water and sanitation.

There are 8 criteria for governance performance, but if these first 3 criteria are achieved, that government can count itself as a performing government.

 

In Nigeria, we must continue to ensure integrity and value for money through the concept of absolute integrity, and in areas such as:

Additional scrutiny of high-risk spending, eg programmes in conflict-affected areas, allowance received by the legislators on oversight spending, constituency allowance should be managed by the ministry of finance to ensure checks and balance and major commodity procurement

Dedicated commercial advice, checks and balance to ensure robust procurement and contract monitoring as well as maximizing value for money in Nigeria.

Strengthened feedback, accountability and oversight from citizens that ensure all the citizens benefits directly from programmes in areas such as water and sanitation, health and education

 

The rate at which corruption is going in our country leaves much to be desired.

 

Corruption can broadly be defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. The word can cover a whole range of abuses. On one level it can refer to the risk of taxpayers’ money being fraudulently spent or stolen. On another level it can refer to corruption within a country and its institutions, with the negative impact that this has on development prospects. We must sets the highest standards for the manner in which the country’s money is spent. We also must work to reduce the prevalence of corruption in our country. We cannot afford to go this way. It’s everywhere, even at home. Majority of the civil servants are working with fake certificates and many of the lie about age.

 

All hands must be on deck in tackling corruption through:

Framework for entrenchment of strong advocacy for fighting corruption:

Providing assistance, at Federal level and in states and to improve budget transparency and financial management in order to prevent corruption.

Promoting transparency and accountability in the oil sector, and providing strong technical advice on a new Petroleum Industry Bill.

Increasing the focus on anti-corruption in the genre of service delivery programmes on health, education and water.

Supporting anti-corruption agencies to recover stolen cash and assets and to prosecute people who have stolen public funds.

All civil society groups, ordinary citizens must stand up to make the National Assembly and government to account for the use of public resources.

All public office holders must be made to give account-It’s a criminal situation for someone to collect so much on behalf of the people and he is not rendering account to no-one.

Accountability (in the public sector) is the process whereby public sector entities, and the individuals within them, take responsibility for their decisions and actions, including their stewardship of public funds and all aspects of performance, and submit themselves to appropriate external scrutiny. It is achieved by all parties having a clear understanding of those responsibilities, and having clearly defined roles through a robust structure. In effect, accountability is lacking in every facets of our national lives, thus something must be done urgently to address this situation.

Across the country, there must be increase public and media scrutiny to raise the

bar for ethics and compliance in both business and government,with regulators following suit.

The reputational damage caused by bribery and corruption are rocking the foundations of organisations and institutions, even spelling the doom for some firms.

Enforcement agencies are comingdown hard, but cannot cover all the ground on organisations as well as the individuals involved in corruption.

The challenges of the fight against bribery and corruption in the country are daunting. Organisations need to place corruption policy on the leadership agenda and ensure the nuts and bolts are in place to monitor corruption threats

and manage the risks appropriately. Every public office holder must be thoroughly screened by the public before getting to the office. Fostering a

culture of ethics and setting the right tone from the top can help build the foundations for a strong organisational culture that is more likely to succeed.

Political and Business leaders have the most important role to play in leading from the top. Their position provides a unique window for protecting the organisation/office  by taking personal ownership in addressing these issues and ensuring that transparency and integrity is the order of the day.

In conclusion, we call on the well-meaning citizens and professionals in our country to enlist with us to envision this goal.

-Olufemi Mosaku-Johnson,Registrar, Association of Corporate Governance Professionals of Nigeria

femi.mjohnson@acgpnigeria.org

 

 


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