BY DOTUN IBIWOYE
Lamentations over the poor standard of governance resonated at a recent parley organised in Lagos.
THE crave for good governance was again the focus of panelists at a recent forum organised by MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with the West African NGO Network, WANGONET.
The session which had the theme:”The Nigeria Governance Project”, drew panelists including Professor of Law, University of Lagos, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, MacArthur Foundation’s Program Officer, Godwin Odo, and Executive Director, WANGONET, Tunji Lardner.
A common thread in their submissions was the need for the present crop of politicians to be people oriented in their policies.
They also noted that unless citizens begin to claim the ownership of the entity called Nigeria, and begin to claim their rights as citizens good governance will continue to be a mirage.
Professor of Law, University of Lagos, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, stated that Nigerians must debunk the claim that the law can never work and as such fight suggestions that threaten confidence in the judicial process.
“We must continue to debunk the claim that the law can never work; we must fight racism that threatens our confidence to inspire the people to make the system work. Let us imagine, if you witness the police brutality what you are going to say is that nothing is going to happen as a result of which you walk away,” she said.
“Just in case that something now happens, you have not set in motion the process of making something corrective happens. So if everybody believes nothing is going to happen, and do nothing about everything, nothing is going to happen, just like a self-fulfilling prophesy.”
The Program Officer MacArthur Foundation, Mr. Godwin Odo on his part opined that Nigeria still needs mental improvement in terms of policies, laws, institutions and even values. He also affirmed that the implementation of good governance will be the solution to majority of the issues which the country is facing.
”Let the people feel the good impact of government. We should have a government that is responsive. Before policies are put in place, people should be consulted. By this time last year we all saw what happened during the issue of the fuel subsidy.
“The government said that they were going to put in place palliative measures. One year down the line, where are those palliative measures? We are making improvement, but we still have a longer way to go, we still need mental improvement in terms of policies, laws, institutions and even values.
“There are some values now that nobody will be bold enough to say that is a value in Nigeria. I doubt that anybody in Nigeria will say to you that we don’t need human-rights/democracy. Those are values which we are still implementing.”
For the Executive Director, West African NGO Network, Mr. Tunji Lardner, averred that the first step to the improvement of governance in the country is for the people to stop outsourcing all issues to religious and supernatural beliefs.
According to him, issues should rather be looked at pragmatically. Lardner further stated that Nigerians have to claim ownership and not just to blame anybody not even the government.
In his words: “Who exactly is the government? From my individual point of view, unless we begin to claim the ownership of this entity called government, and unless we begin to claim our rights as citizen and agree to take the responsibilities that are attached to those rights, nothing is going to happen.
“Next year will be 100 years of Nigeria’s amalgamation. So, you ask yourself that after 100 years since that amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria, what has evolved. And just recently, we celebrated 50 years of our independence, what do we have to show for it?”