By Emmanuel Elebeke
The absence of the Office of the Citizens across Africa has been blamed as the major cause of bad leadership in the continent.
The founder, Project Hope Alive Africa, Amb. Chibuzo Okereke, made the observation while delivering the Keynote Address titled :“Addressing Leadership Gaps in the Polity: Why Citizens Voices Matter”, at the inaugural Conference of Citizens Agenda, by Obiama Africa Network for Development, which held virtually, recently.
Okereke said the absence of the citizens’ office underpinned the need for the process of leadership of the citizens to be activated so as to have the ability to hold our leaders accountable.
He noted that when the citizens are active government works, but when the citizens are docile government cannot work, because the citizens own government.
The PHAA founder, who lamented the long absence of The office of the Citizens in Africa, said it was reason why there is so much lapses in leadership, and stressed the need to reactivate the office so that we can make our leaders deliver the dividends of democracy.
Amb. Okereke, who cited the appointment of INEC Chairman as one of the loopholes in the system, insisted that the INEC chairman should not be appointed by the President, because he who pays the piper dictates the tune, and pointed Justice Uwais Report as one among several committee reports that recommended that the duty of appointing the INEC chairman should be removed from the president to make that institution truly independent.
He said our political Parties are not known for having any political or economical Ideology, for instance in 2012, it was the same people who protested against Fuel Subsidy removal that are advocating for its removal now that they are in power doing just the same thing they stood against.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of Citizens Agenda, Dr. Victor Odoeme, noted that the conference was aimed at reawakening the consciousness of African citizens on the need to ensure that they take interest in participating actively in the process that produces their leaders and that the government is more responsible to its citizens.
On his part, the guest speaker, Barr. Israel Usman, said there is need to have square pegs in square holes and not the other way round because when you have too many bureaucrats in government the possibility of government to fail is there but when you have more technocrats in government the possibility of government to succeed is high.
He also called for proper defenition of the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Auditor General of the Federation, which he said should not be for the government alone, but for the federation that is the general public.
In her own remarks another Guest Speaker and the National Vice President of Institute of Chartered Economists, of Nigeria, Dr. Safiya Stephanie Musa, said: “ Theory of Change summary of citizen-led good governance, Provision of information and capacity development support to citizens, leads to Increased citizens’ awareness, capability, and willingness to participate, this enables the Citizens to monitor government functioning, voice concerns, and promote accountability.”
She further noted that, “Citizen voices and monitoring results are shared with authorities, media, and the general public.”
This, according to him leads to Increased public pressure on authorities to respond, change behavior, and reduce corruption, adding that authorities’ response leads to Improved governance outcomes and development effectiveness.