What are the duties of the people towards the Government?

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

Last week we reflected very briefly on the statutory duties of government under a functional democracy. We saw that the government exists solely for the well-being of the people who established the type of government of their own choice. Today, we have the need to reflect on the duties of the people towards the government. One would ask whether the people owe the government any responsibility.

Is it not the government that should cater for the people? Yes of course, there are statutory duties of the people to the government. The well-ordering of the state and the functioning of the various arms and organs of government are largely dependent on the responses of the people to the demands of good citizenship.

In the first place, any good government would expect its citizens to be men and women of character who would take time to establish a good government. Here the government belongs to the people. They should be knowledgeable enough to establish a government that would serve its interests. And so the people must establish a government of its choice.

Having done that, it the rights of the citizens to give its mandate to a few of its sons and daughters in the exercise of elections for the herculean job of piloting the affairs of the state. The people will select and elect its leaders and spell out for the leaders what would be their charter of demands. The government belongs to the people and has no separate agenda of its own.

Every agenda of the government must serve the interest of the people. If the government evolves other programmes and actions inimical to the interest of the people, the statecraft will be resisted. Obedience to the laws of the state and respect to the rule of law are among the most important obligations of the citizens towards its government.

The rule of law applies to every dick and harry in the state. It is the total submission to the dictates of just laws for the common good. The rulers and no less the ruled are bound to respect the dictates of the law. It is evident that disobedience to the stipulated laws of the state breed anarchy and insecurity of life and property.

It is therefore the bounden duty of both the rulers and the ruled of the state to adhere to the norms of its just laws for order and progress in the state. A lawless state is one where anarchy rules. Anarchy breeds insecurity of life. Citizens should help the government to ensure security by being law -abiding.

Even though the greater resources of the state are at the hands of government, the citizens are also expected to contribute to the greater development of the state by paying promptly their just assessed taxes to the state to help supplement government efforts for the development of the state. The state alone cannot afford the enormous resources needed for the overall development of the state hence the imposition of just taxes and its justification.

This has nothing to do with the reckless practice of bribery and corruption associated with so many things in Nigeria. Good citizens do not give and receive bribes. Apart from prompt payment of income taxes, good citizens of a state are also expected to have healthy attitude to work. We must be people who are conscious of the need for hard work.

A good citizen contributes to the well-ordering of the state and the environment through the work one does. A healthy attitude to work is a sure way to development and progress of both the state and its individual members. Otherwise, the war would have been ended before the battle could begin!

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


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