BEYOND THE CELEBRATIONS
SOME of the most brilliant ideas about how to make Nigeria work better are thrown around during campaigns. They seem to die once the elections are over. Candidates spoke eloquently about their plans to improve things. The abundance of promises cannot be so easily forgotten. Some said they would tackle infrastructure.
Others hinted that education and health care services should be free. Security, food, and the like were among issues that came up often during the campaigns. Doubtlessly, for candidates to bring these up means that they know the challenges Nigerians face daily.
It could also have been a ploy to entice voters to make their choices. What remains to be seen is how the politicians would manage these promises. In the midst of the celebrations, the most important thing to politicians is to access power.
They believe it is their right to deal with issue as they deem fit now they have finished with the voters. This attitude is unacceptable. The multiplicity of ideas that the campaigns generated must not be wasted. Winners - as well as the losers - can still use them if there is a determination to hold the winners accountable and constantly draw their attention to the fact that things can be done better. Most of the winners will not care to keep the promises.
The losers on the other hand, will recoil to their shells. Nothing will be heard about them until the next elections when they have little time to titillate the electorate again with the dreams of their ideal Nigeria. We consider these approaches inadequate. One of the areas our democracy has not grown is in the vibrancy of the opposition.
The opposition must at all times demand better performance from governments. On the part of governments, they should not close their eyes and ears to ideas from the opposition. Every government should be committed to doing the best for the people, no matter the source of the ideas that result in that success.
So much work lies ahead. The fanciful television shots of the achievements of governments across the country - if they are truly reflections of work done - are further proofs that the people want governments to do more. The only room left, in some cases, may be for improvements. Instances remain, however, where the people are unaware that there are governments since the authorities have neglected them, remembering them only at election time.
How is it possible for a government to forget the people in a democracy which is assumed to be a government of the people for the people? Things happen and if after 12 years of civil governance, governments still see their responsibilities to the people as gifts to be presented when their Excellencies are favourably disposed, it is little wonder that so little has changed in so many years. People expect governments to work for them.
The mandates given at these elections should not be wasted. Democracy holds high promises of meeting the expectations of Nigerians, if the authorities understand that they are in office for the people.