The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has identified double standard and lack of tenacity in holding governments and leaders accountable as major reasons for poor governance in the country.
Ekweremadu spoke at the 30th Priesthood Ordination anniversary of the Bishop of Nike Diocese, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Rt. Revd. Evans Ibeagha, in Enugu at the weekend.
Delivering the anniversary lecture entitled “Social Contract Between Political Leaders and Citizens: The Imperatives of Participatory Democracy for Nation Building”, the Senator, who was represented by the President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Enugu State Chapter, Hon. Alex Ogbonnia, called for more consistency among the religious leaders, civil society, and social crusaders in their opposition to bad government policies and actions, irrespective of the individual or party in power.
He said: “It is sad that many critics who led street protests against policies of the last administration, such as the attempt to remove fuel subsidy with elaborate palliative, made a volt face when fuel subsidy was totally removed by the current administration without any iota of palliatives for Nigerians.
“Those who criticised the last administration over what they termed hardship in the land and high exchange rate of about N198 to USD1 have suddenly gone mute when the real hardship is staring the nation people in the face, while exchange rate has more than doubled.
“But, if we are consistent in holding government accountable on behalf of the people, then no government will feel so comfortable that it will take the people for granted or run in exclusion of their ideas, feelings, and inputs”.
He, however, stressed that citizen involvement could only be effective if it trickled down to the least layer of the society and produces larger benefits for the common people and the less privileged.
Ekweremadu recommended the Enugu State model where he said Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi was running an all-inclusive administration in which the people, right from the grassroots, were consulted in policy formulation and execution of development projects.
“So far, Enugu has witnessed both equitable development and participatory governance. It is recalled that all the projects cited in the 17 Local Government Areas were nominated by the people.
“Also, under the One Community One Project initiative, every autonomous community has nominated a project in line with its priority. And those projects are to be executed by the communities under the supervision of the government”, he explained.
While asserting that people’s involvement in governance should not end with merely casting ballots, he, however, stressed that “if exclusive governance, which breaches social contract, is a disease, then election should be the ultimate cure by electing only those who are accountable to the people”.