By NBF News
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SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole and the National Leader of Musilm Rights Concern (MURIC), Dr. Ishaq Akintola, yesterday challenged Nigerians to use their vote to demand for accountable and transparent leadership as the nation heads for the April polls.

Speaking yesterday at the fifth yearly lecture organised by Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Abuja branch, Bankole specifically lamented what he called the docile nature of Nigerians in asking their elected leaders questions regarding their stewardship, noting that unless the citizens develop the culture of insisting that their leaders be accountable, Nigeria's desire for credible leadership would not be achieved.

With the theme 'Fulfilling Electoral Promises,' Bankole, who was the special guest of honour, challenged the media, which is the voice of the people, to champion the cause of good governance and accountable leadership on behalf of the people.

He said 'Nigeria is on another threshold of history as we will head to another elections in April, perhaps the most crucial election in the history of the country. It is expected that to restore peoples' faith in the process, everything about the process must be credible with a lot of integrity.'

For him, since it has been established that democracy is the best avenue where people could determine those who will lead them, the full participation of Nigerians has become imperative for the process to be acceptable.

According to him, 'the leadership of the country should be determined through a collective effort. In this regard, I believe we can learn a lesson or two from Tunisia and Egypt about how the peoples' power must be allowed to prevail. Seeking the people's mandate is like entering into a contractual agreement which must be kept by all parties involved, most especially those elected on behalf of the people.'

The Speaker lamented that some politicians usually take advantage of the high level of poverty in the land to deprive the people of the benefit of governance, saying unless Nigerian electorate are prepared to use their powers of recall on non-performing politicians, the situation would continue to worsen.

The poverty, he said, allowed politicians to promise what they know they could not do, noting that sometimes, politicians who tried to promise the modest they could co, will not get elected. To ensure effective dissemination of the 'newly-found anti-corruption position of the lawmakers,' Bankole stressed the need for effective communication. Therefore, the House of Representatives, he said, has decided to re-visit the Freedom of Information which he felt could be used to expose corruption and entrench accountability and probity.

Also speaking at the event, Akintola, an associate professor and Head of Religious Department of the Lagos State University, (LASU), Ojo, said politicians must be ready to be accountable to the final judge on the day of judgment.

According to the scholar, a Muslim's word is his bound, and therefore, he/she should be able to defend what he has promised the people.

Quoting from the Holy Qu'ran, the scholar noted that Muslims must be able to fulfill their promises because on the day of judgment, they would be asked to account for how far they have been able to redeem their pledges. 'On that day, your mouth will be sealed and you will not be able to speak with it. Your hand with which you wrote your manifesto will testify against you and your legs with which you went to the campaign ground will bear testimony against you. Therefore, it is important that we are careful on what we tell the people we will do for them because inability to fulfill promises is a very serious crime with Allah,' he said.

The scholar also warned leaders of corrupt practices, saying that converting resources meant to provide good things for people into personal use is akin to taking food from the mouths of orphans, which is a very serious offence.

'Tax payers' money should be used to take care of the people because any fund for the people that is converted into personal use is like somebody consuming fire in his tummy. Political office or any form of leadership for that matter is trust, which must be kept. Once you are elected, you have been entrusted with the peoples' fate in your hand, of which you will be asked to account for on the last day,' the don said.