What does a Government do?

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

In our reflection for last week, we focused on fishing out the ghost workers in government ministries and parastatals. Today we wish to ask the question about what a government does. Yes, the work and responsibility of a government are many and varied. First and foremost.

A government in our context and in the context of society and statehood is that group of men and women, elected or appointed and constituted by the mandate of the people, through an oath of office to act on its behalf in the affairs of the community. A government is established not for its own sake, but for the sake of the people who agreed to form a government. It is not the government that forms itself.

It is the people who determine the type of government of its own choice. And the choice of the people is determinant. And so a government comes into existence and acquires legitimacy through the mandate of the people to whom it belongs and serves. Yes but what does a government do concretely?

The government is established to serve the people. And these services are varied. It must be stated inter alia, that the government does what the individual members of the society cannot do for themselves, for their general well-being. The government was never established to serve itself. It exists to serve the people in whose mandate it subsists.

In fact, the government has the mandate of the people to take charge of the resources of the state and employ same in its services. It is expected also to provide security and protect the lives of its people. In the use of the resources of the state, the people expect utmost financial discipline and parsimony on the part of the government. This is to enable the government carry out its essential duties to the people. A reckless government is a disaster to the people.

The same is true of a corrupt government that feeds its leaky pockets with public resources to the neglect of its statutory duties. It is our experience that we have had the misfortune of bad and corrupt governments over the years in Nigeria. It is therefore not surprising that our situation in Nigeria is a difficult one.

It is a serious crime against the public mandate of the people to have a government that does not care about the welfare of its members. Nigeria is a classic example of such a government. For instance, the three levels of government in Nigeria-the Federal, the State and the Local Government council, in imitation of the popular practice of democracy in the developed world exist in name.

These levels are supposed to be channels of services to the people. But the practice is different. For example, the local government council in most states of the federation exists only in paper. The local government council is the government at the grass-root. It is the nearest government to the people, purposely designed to ensure grass-root attention and services. But today as before, they have become channels of fraud.

In fact, the local government councils exist for the stakeholders whose job it is to share the local government allocations as soon as they arrive. This explains the dilapidating situation of most of our local government councils. It is shameful that the reason of being of government-that is the well-being of the people is not being attended to. The people do not matter.

The people become useless appendages in the wheels of government. What a perfidy? What a disaster? Yet, the government exists for the people. And there can be no government without the people. It is therefore urgent for the people to withdraw its mandate on any government that derelicts on its duties. This calls for urgent and massive mobilization of the people to wake up to its rights!

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


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