By Abdulrazaq Hamzat
The understanding of some public office holders on who they are representing and who they owe account need to be probed and corrected.
There’s also need to correct certain misperception amongst the people, particularly individuals or group of individuals who arrogate superior power to themselves in matter of public engagement.
This is necessary to ensure that we are shifting away from bad precedent, into ideal democratic practices.
An elected official is not representing his party, his group or those who voted for him alone, he or she is representing the totality of the people residing in his territory and he is responsible and accountable to them all.
This is so because, when an elected official is paid salaries or allowances, the money didn’t come from his party or those who voted for him, it came directly from the collective treasury of the people.
If projects are executed, the fundings are not from any group or party, but from public treasury that is belonging to all.
So, people in government and their appointees should stop segregating the society into my party, my people and others. Such practice is against the principle of democracy that brought them into office.
Democracy is defined as government of the people by the people and for the people, not government of some people, by some people and for some people.
This definition is apt and underscores the essence of government in a democratic society, but not many citizens or even public office holders have come to term with this fact.
Some people still think that a government is governing for it’s party, or it’s group or even those who voted for it, a misconception that must be erased from our political life.
A government, once saddled with the responsibility of governing a constituency, becomes the government of every individual residing in that territory.
Pasuma wonder, a Fuji musician once sang, “ti aro ban ko Fuji ni Nigeria, otunba won re”, which literally means that, no matter who is singing Fuji in Nigeria, he’s their otunba and the same thing applies to public office.
Once an individual occupy public office, he or she becomes the leader and responsible for all, ruling party or opposition, intellectuals or morons, moral or immoral, each person must be properly factored in.
Good people cannot claim to own the government and seek to monopolize it simply because they are good, the bad people equally owns it and government must be fair to both parties.
In addition to the above, some elites, moral police, intellectuals and others like them who think they are the wise, and all knowing also feels that the government belongs to them or that they hold greater stake in deciding the direction of the government, but I wish to say that, while the government did belong to them, it also belongs to those not so intelligent,not so intellectual, not so moral and those not so civilized and the stake of the intellectuals are not more than the none intellectuals, that of the wise are not more than those not so wise, those of the elites not more than that of the villagers and what matters to each has to be properly factored in. This is what a government is all about.
While the political party and it’s members could make up maximum of 20 percent of the population, the none party members who are 80 percent of the population actually have more stakes in government because of their numbers. The intellectuals or technocrats, who are less than 5 percent are very important, but the rest of the population that are not so intellectual are far more important because of their population.
In essence, a government is for the good people and also for the bad people, it is for the wise and the not so wise, it is for the party and the none party members, it is for the intellectuals and the none intellectuals and none of these categories of people can claim to have greater stake in government than the others, neither can their interest or priority be superior.
This is where the concept of silent majority came to play, because the vast majority of the people do not have the time, skills or capacity to engage the government, but if the government can touch their interest positively in its programs and projects, they will reward the government with commitment and loyalty, irrespective of what is being said by the prominent and organized minority.
The thieves, the prostitutes, the liars, the sex addicts, the drunkards, criminals, etc all have equal stake in government with the saints, the religious, the chaste and decent and their legitimate interest, in form of basic needs must be protected.
While some people might be more proactive in asking questions and dragging govt to their direction, government on its own have a responsibility to strike the necessary balance, beyond the consideration of any group, whether in appointment, projects or anything at all. It is important to note that, those who have no voice or capacity to engage government have not ceded their right or stake in government to anyone, their interest must still be protected by the government. This is a contract they have signed and a oath swore to uphold before taking over.
It is understandable that some individuals or groups will not agree with government on striking this balance, but it is an inevitable balance that must be striken, if the society is to progress.
Abdulrazaq Hamzat writes from Ilorin, Kwara State