Advocacy for the common good of Society!

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

Our society is pluralistic. And so are politics and political affiliations. There are varied political parties with different ideologies and systems. There are also different religions and religious affiliations. All are seeking and exerting enormous influences in the polity and competing for recognition and relevance. As it were complexities abound at all fronts.

And therefore it becomes imperative to find ways and means of a harmonious co-existence among the various bodies. Hence the evolution of advocacy for the good of the society. Advocacy can be broadly defined as a term used to describe actions that bring about change. It is about seeing a problem, judging what can be done and then acting in such a way that it can point to and ultimately bring about a desired change. Accordingly, advocacy is essential for helping individuals, communities, institutions and neglected people to demand action around their rights. In a democracy advocacy is an essential tool to ensure that people, especially the most vulnerable, receive what is due to them.

Advocacy informs people about which authority is responsible and where and how to approach it. It is therefore essential that various stakeholders and members of the society take up the task of advocacy as a way of keeping up with the constitutional demands of being available to the parliament in its deliberations and processes of legislation. Unfortunately, most of our people do not find it worth-doing keeping an eye on the elected representatives. Yet they will grumble when the government do not deliver on its election promises.

In all intents and purposes, it must be underscored that the people have constitutional rights to demand and receive accounts of the stewardship of government. It is not a favour being done to the people by the government to be accountable; it is a duty they owe to the people. The sovereignty belongs to the people. And there can be no better way of ensuring this sovereignty than for representatives of the people to account for their stewardship in governance. After all the government exists only for the well-being of the people without which any government anywhere has no reason of being.

Unfortunately, it is a widely known bad practice in Nigeria and other parts of Africa that sovereignty belongs to the government and all its cohorts at the rooms of power. The fundamental rights of citizens as the hallmark of governance is often overlooked. It is rather fashionable to adore the men and women in power for them to perform little of their constitutional assigned jobs. And the consequences have been unpalatable. But there must be a way out of the labyrinth. Democracy does not thrive on its own alone.

It must be a joint enterprise of the elected representative and the people for whose welfare government was originally instituted. One brilliant way of making legislative process succeed and good governance a reality is to appreciate on the part of the representatives that power belongs to the people. It is for them and with them that any government lives and works. On the part of the citizens, there is further need, once again, to repose confidence and trust in the good will of the elected representatives. Affirming the good done by the Parliament-is a very good way of supporting good legislation and reposing trust in their legislative processes.

The other kind of support is to criticize bad legislation. This kind of support presupposes that the citizens are sufficiently informed about legislation and can critically discern among legislations. Of course, the democratic coin must have two faces. And therefore, a balanced appraisal would always involve the two sides of a coin. It is through oiling these democratic tracks of encounter between the people and their representative that a true process of legislation/ governance can emerge. May the emergence of true democratic processes of legislation bring forth the desired quality change in the life and work of our people!

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