Those inaugurations are normal a part of democracy and were necessary
but if we really want to move the country forward and sincerely want
to reap the dividends of democracy then we must acknowledge that there
is still one more inauguration to do. After that of governments, we
now need to do the inauguration of citizens. Such inauguration will be
less expensive than the ones we saw yesterday, but it will have more
far-reaching consequences for the future of the country.
The inaugurations of elected officials were necessary acts because the
constitution says so and because they have both symbolical and
functional values. The swearing ceremony is the moment in which
elected officials legally become in charge of the affairs of their
citizens, it signals the beginning of a new era and it offers elected
officials the opportunity to make a solemn pledge to commit themselves
to the defense and progress of the land and people they are called to
serve: a rite of passage.
To complete these rites of passage and to make the vows the governors
took work, we also need to make the governed aware that they too have
a crucial part to play in the process of governance. A good way to
start that process might be to remind Nigerians that in democracy,
everyone is a citizen not just a fellow countryman or a subject of any
elected leader. And just as the until recently candidates have taken
their vows as elected officials with legal mandates to govern in the
name and on behalf of their people, so also the people should find
time to take their vows to behave as citizens of a modern democratic
The people’s inauguration can take any format one prefers. It can be
done in front of a mirror or in a group anywhere, it is the
consequences that matter. Many are the consequences that will come
from such act and they all lead to an organic consciousness of
citizenship which should be continuously celebrated. One major
consequence lies in the consideration people will have of themselves
and of their leaders. Nigeria is not a nation of orphans and as
citizens in a modern democracy, Nigerians needs to know that their
president, governors or senators are not their fathers and mothers.
These elected ladies and gentleman are there to carry out specific
duties and serve us, the people, just like our teachers are there to
teach our children and our doctors to treat our sick ones. Like
anybody else, politicians are citizens like all of us just doing a
different kind of job.
To change things and make everyone feel like a citizen is a task we
cannot rely on politicians to do, not because they are wicked or
selfish as many are quick to say but rather because they are human.
Given the chance, everyone wants to feel more special than the next
person and if permitted everyone will oppress. It is the duty of the
people to make sure that that leaders do not take advantage of their
positions and the powers delegated to them.
When we invite these new leaders to functions, let us stop delaying
the whole function and those that are there just because his
Excellency is yet to arrive. We should state the commencement time
clearly and stick to it, if his Excellency arrive later, let him just
join us, even if he is the keynote speaker. I have seen many of our
Excellencies run to catch their planes abroad, trust me punctuality
will neither hurt them nor make them less excellent.
If we really want our elected leaders to be honest and truly committed
when they serve the country, then those that have access to elected
officials should stop asking them for money and stop making outright
illicit request or demands that require them to use their position to
bend the rules. Citizens need to remember that each time a politician
doles out money he is going to need to recoup it from somewhere and
the best account to reach for is the national or state treasury.
All these and many more things require knowledge and discipline.
People need to know their rights and how to make sure they get to use
those rights. People also need to learn to rely on the fruit of their
labour rather than favours. Naturally, rent seekers and hangers on
will detest these suggestions and they will even go out of the way to
discourage and impede people from becoming citizens. The true
hardworking and well intentioned Nigerians need to wake up to them.
The civil society not the government will have to lead the process.
Our schools and various places of worship need to go back to teaching
values. Happy inauguration to all.