You might be surprised to hear that many Nigerians, including this writer, don’t know who their leaders are and the various duties they, the leaders, owe their communities. If you ask some people who they know as their elected leaders, they will mention the president, the governor, and maybe one or two ministers that feature often in the press. Ask them who is representing them at the National Assembly or the State House of Assembly, and you will find out they have no idea. Bring the query down to the local government chairmen, councillors, and even ward leaders and they will have nothing to tell you. This is how uninformed Nigerians are when it comes to matters about political leaders and their duties.
The way Nigerians have little knowledge of the political leaders they elected is still the way they have little or no knowledge of the duties these officers owe them. It is difficult to decide which political officer has which job to do. Because of this, the majority of them ignore their responsibilities since no one will hold them accountable. Of course, it’s when you know what someone is supposed to do that you can hold him responsible for failing to do it.
But here you are, you don’t know what your governor is supposed to do. You are unsure of the boundary that separates the obligations of your local government chairman and those of your councillors, that is, if you know who they are or even remember they exist. You hear about constituency allowance but you don’t even know what it stands for and what it is meant to do. They tell you there is a security vote that is shared, monthly, to all the states of the federation, depending on their level of security challenges, but the federal government is expected to send troops to protect states. What about the members of State House of Assembly? Are they not meant to handle projects in communities? What bills have they passed that will make life easier for your community? Do you even follow their activities? All these make one ask, “What exactly are the responsibilities of each of these political office holders?”
Speaking on the issue of security, just recently, the former Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, said that the military alone cannot handle insurgency and banditry without the collaboration of the state governments. According to him, forest reserves are under the control of state governments and that it was the duties of these governments to keep the forests safe. Until Buratai said this, many of us do not know state governments have roles to play in the battle against insecurity. But come to think of it, what are the governors doing with security votes if the military has to secure their states?
Coming to cases of infrastructure and poverty alleviation, whose responsibility is it to provide the basic needs of the people? Which responsibilities are allotted to local government chairmen, state governors, senators, and the federal government? What projects are senators funding with constituency allowances given to them? Does anyone even know the projects they presented before they were allocated the money? How will people know which of their leaders to call on when their roads go bad, winds remove the roofs of their schools, they lack drinking water, or need electricity? Who exactly is in-charge of what?
Nigerians, in the hands of political leaders, are like the proverbial public goat that died of hunger. Since the populace do not know who to hold responsible for any particular work, they, the politicians, ignore their basic duties. Nigerians have been searching in faraway places near them. It is high time they found out who is responsible for which duty so they can ask them to do their jobs. It is time for grass-root governance to begin. But it can only become successful if there is proper enlightenment on political leadership.