Making our Representatives Accountable...?

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

Democracy is a government by representation. And the people choose their representatives and mandate them for service. The process of choice takes place during elections into various offices of government. The periods of elections are important moments in the life of any nation. When elections are properly done in accordance with the rules of the game, the people rejoice. If elections are marred with irregularities and fraud, the result is confusion and conflict.

In fact, government by representation takes into consideration the reality that not everybody in the state can be at the helms of affairs of government. Government must largely be representative. And those chosen by the people to represent them have some responsibility to the people.

Representation is on trust. But the mandate of representation belongs to the people. Yet it is our ugly experience in Nigeria that those chosen or selected to represent the people do not do their jobs of representation well. A good number of our representatives at the various chambers of government are sleeping on their duties.

Take for instance, the quality of representation of a Councillor in the legislative councils of our local governments? What of the chairmen of such local government councils? Do they come to office regularly to do their work? And what are the results of their stewardship?

It is a pity in some local government areas of Enugu state for instance, that most local government staff are being owed six months arrears of salaries. But are men and women of the lower and higher chambers of parliaments doing better?

Do they have constituency offices where they ought to meet with their Constituents? How well do they do their oversight functions? What of the Constituency projects under their charge? What of the Constituency allowances for constituency developments? If the parliamentarians are performing below acceptable standards, are the governors with their executive powers doing better? Of course, some have tried.

But the corruption and abuse of public funds among a good number of them speak volumes of their profligacy. It is still worrisome that even the presidency with all its promises for change and transparency, they are not yet scratching the people where it is actually pinching them. The truth of Nigerian situation is that government of representation does not bear the expected fruits. The dividends of good governance do not reach the people.

There are too much of avoidable sufferings among the people. The situation of the people would have been something to write Rome about if the representative were even attempting to do their bounden duties. It is against the background of their ineptitude that this reflection is directed.

It is therefore part of the work of the people to make their representative to wake up from their wicked slumber. To do this well, the people must take up the task of inviting their representatives to an accountability forum. These fora can be multiplied and the people would ask their representatives about their duties. Accountability fora can be organised several times in a given year.

It affords the opportunity of interaction between the people and their duty-bearers in government. The representatives would be made to account for their stewardship. This is one reasonable way of making the representatives sit up to their legislative responsibilities. In the event of their inability to render proper accounts of their services, the people can, following the due process withdraw its mandate. Another important way of making the representatives accountable to the people is through Town Hall Meetings (THM).

Town Hall Meetings are meetings of dialogue between the people and the representatives. At these meetings the people state their charter of demands. That is to say, they list out their pet services in their order of priorities for attention. These and other steps make it is evident that representation in government is about stewardship and accountability!

... go back to the You and Politics page.


First Name:

Last Name:

Phone Number:

E-mail Address:



Please enter the text as it is shown in the box below:*

Captcha Image: you will need to recognize the text in it.