AMPLIFYING THE LOGIC OF THE GOOD GOVERNANCE TOUR
With the National Good Governance Tour train now rolling through the South East states after those of the North Central, and doing an exposition of what has been achieved in the states in terms of projects executed, evidence abounds that more Nigerians are readily embracing it and do desire it to be a regular and permanent feature of our political and development culture.
Respondents cutting across the social strata in Aba, Umuahia, Owerri, Onitsha, Awka and Aguleri endorsed the initiative and said it was a great idea that would keep those in authority perpetually on their guard and make them repudiate the culture of impunity. Some described it as a catalyst for speeding up the pace of development while still others said it should be institutionalised to properly capture development efforts in the local government areas.
Near to this concept was the award-winning Prof Jerry Gana-led national media tour of 2001 when he was Minister of Information. But the current Labaran Maku initiative is motivated by the grand ideal of entrenching a commitment to governance, by both the leaders and the led at all the tiers of government, as a recipe for achieving accelerated corporate national development.
For the masses who have excitedly participated in the proceedings of the National Good Governance Tour, there must be an accountability time, when those who positioned themselves for service and got entrusted with the responsibility of managing the collective resources of the people must render account of their stewardship to the real owners of the trust. Doing this, they demand, must be a transparent and open process.
For those in power, the good governance tour presents a terrific platform to vindicate them as well as to get acquitted of suspicions, innuendoes and often times outright and unfounded accusations by what one politician called 'the coalition of political enemies, the un-informed and the ill-informed'.
Importantly, the National Good Governance Tour does provide the atmosphere for hearty discussions among the various stakeholders, whereby they share of the vision, constraints and limitations of those in authority thus facilitating their buy-in of on-going plans and programmes, while creating a peaceful and participatory polity in governance.
The logic or rationale for the National Good Governance tour is succinctly expressed by its primary proponent, the Minister of Information Mr Labaran Maku, each time he speaks about it. Showing great conviction, he posits that the tour brings the rulers and the ruled, including those in the diaspora to the discussion arena and offers a veritable healthy platform to lift the culture of democracy higher.
By so doing, especially through the instrumentality of the Citizens' Forum which is transmitted live in both the traditional and social media, it situates public office holding where it actually belongs and opens up a significant conversation which is the main ingredient of democracy.
Looking back from 1999, when military autocracy gave way to democratic governance, Labaran says Nigeria has come a long way particularly in giving consideration and attending to the needs, yearnings and sensibilities of the people. He wondered who would have dared summon even the most benevolent of military regimes in their time to a town hall meeting to face the barrage of questions that the National Good Government Tour throws up.
In a democratic dispensation, the citizenry determine who rule them and such persons are bound to return to them from time to time with true account of their stewardship. For integrity therefore, that account of service rendered must be made public and be subjected to scrutiny, which the National Good Governance Tour fosters.
Amplifying the logic further, it should be stated that the greatest benefit of the National Good Government Tour is its potential of returning attention to the real issues of development which is hardly the case presently. There is no doubt that every democracy has its own issues, whether positive or negative, all bothering on claims of political contestants of who would best drive the process, plans, programmes and activities that would have the greatest positive impact on the lives of the people.
The energy, interest, frankness and hopes which the government media tour has drawn in the states so far visited underscore the truth in the logic that a properly informed polity, and a leadership that is truthful and alive to its responsibilities are what the Nigerian nation needs to propel it to greater heights.
-Chikezie, a public affairs analyst sent in this piece from Abuja