A Senator’s Thoughts on Good Governance

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    Forging ahead in its mandate as a research centre on sustainable development, the University of Ibadan Centre for Sustainable Development (CESDEV) recently featured Senator Peter Adeyemo who shared his thoughts on citizens’ participation in governance and inclusive prosperity for Nigeria. Ademola Babalola reports

    Centre for Sustainable Development (CESDEV) ranks as a foremost intellectual platform for helping the leadership of the country to find enduring solutions to issues relating to sustainable development.

    Recently, Senator Peter Adeyemo was at CESDEV to speak on ‘Citizens Participation for Corresponding Good Governance’. Adeyemo who served in the Red Chamber between 1999 and 2003 is a professional in the field of Architecture, Urban and Regional Planning.

    With his experience in the various committees of the Senate, Adeyemo could be counted on to unravel knotty issues in governance and seem apathy in the citizenry.

    The Distinguished Senator studied at the University of Naples, Italy from 1980 to 1987 where he obtained a Doctoral degree with distinction (Soma con lode) in Architecture and Planning; Naples. He was the President Nigerian Students Union, Campania Region, from September, 1983 to June, 1987 before crowning it with the Italian National Professional Practice examinations in November 1987. Adeyemo was therefore the cynosure of all eyes at the town and gown event.

    For Adeyemo who had supervised several M.Sc theses while at the Obafemi Awolowo University, and ranked tops at various appraisal study groups on some major government architectural design projects, the problem with Nigeria stemmed from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    Accordingly, he said there was a need for all Nigerians to rise in defense of the current democratic journey towards birthing the much-talked about progress for the country.

    Adeyemo, a prolific writer and community leader, emphatically stressed that Nigeria’s future hangs on participatory democracy, sacrifice and truthfulness on the part of those saddled with the position of authority.

    On his experience as a representative of the people in the National Assembly, Senator Adeyemo stated, “The necessity for achieving clarity in constituents’ expectation to assist the elected representatives is the main purpose of writing effective representation manual which revolves around 12 major issues of concern in representation inclusiveness and effectiveness.”

    According to him, the 12 silver bullets for inclusive prosperity for Nigeria’s operative covenant of democratic representation would enable constituents and stakeholders to monitor and evaluate performance and hold accountable those who have the constitutional obligation to perform functions and leadership roles which determine the quality of life and safety of their constituents.

    Adeyemo stressed the need for access to quality education, basic health care services, infrastructure master plan, accountability in governance, fight against corruption and necessity to engage professional, educational and research institutions to fulfill their social responsibility to innovate for business and public service.

    He added, “As the citizens’ empowerment for open and inclusive governance, non-partisan public scrutiny is essential for a healthy democracy. Transparency and accountability is never given on a platter of gold; it is usually rigorously contested and fought for. The reality of state capture in many democracies should not be treated with kid gloves; the legitimacy conferred by periodic elections on authoritarian elected autocrats makes engagement with them very difficult.

    “Each of them has a well-oiled base with the stolen wealth of the nation as a war chest exceedingly effective in poverty-ridden transitioning democracies, which is the reason for their poverty. Lack of accountability and transparency discourages participation, and lack of participation in turn encourages lack of accountability and transparency, and a vicious circle is thus constructed. Non-Partisan Accountability Committees therefore become essential for: social auditing and an open, transparent, and participatory budget process, and representation satisfaction.

    “Just the way things are done – together. All is seen, everyone considered important in the process as well as in the outcome. Autocracy, dependence on an imaginary messianic political figure should not be mainstreamed into the political culture and breed passive do-nothing citizens. A political figure that will fulfill government obligations and shoulder citizens’ social, political, and economic responsibilities, does not exist, it is utopian.

    “Citizens social responsibility is to be organised, political responsibility is to participate in democratic governance process. Economic responsibility is to be educated, acquire marketable skill, be the best he/she can, work and pay taxes mandated by law. Democracy and development require vision and what we make of the vision depends on our commitment as a democratic community to work hard and reject cynicism.”

    Going forward, Adeyemo said, “I think the future will not belong to those who are cynical or those who stand on the sidelines. The future will belong to those who have passion and are willing to work hard to make our country better.”

    At the event were lawmakers led by the speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Hon. Gunju Ojo, represented by the house spokesman, Joshua Oyebanji; the Director, CESDEV, Prof. Olanrewaju Olaniyan, staff and scores of students of the centre.