By Kayode Crown
The political atmosphere is about to hot up as the Ondo State Independent National Electoral Commission (ODIEC) has scheduled the local government election into the positions of the chairmen in the 18 local government areas of the state and the various councillor positions in the third tier of government for December 1, a little above three months from now.
The Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has made it clear that what he wants from ODIEC, which is reflective of what the people want, is for the election to deepen democracy and not a heist of the will of the people.
Those who rig election to gain power today may be on the receiving end of the same tomorrow and when they start crying wolf, they would be reminded of the time they committed the same error.
The political parties will now have to put on their thinking caps to field credible candidates at the grassroots, those whose names resonates with the people for their passion for their cause in the past. The candidature of anyone should not be based on the amount of money he has, rather passion to serve the people and go all out for them.
It is at this local level of governance that the youth can really shine, since the lower age limit for councillorship candidates is put at 25 years and for chairmen, 30 years.
Not to be accused of ageism, let me make it clear that I am not saying only those of younger age should be picked, but truth be told, the reduced age qualifications for those who will contest provides a great opportunity for those young in age and with lesser popularity capital to make a move towards gaining political experience by making themselves available to contest the primary election of the different political parties. And if they get picked by the party, it becomes a golden opportunity for the younger ones to cut their political teeth. And that becomes a launching pad for their future political aspirations.
The only word of caution I have is for them not to follow the evil of “if you can’t beat them, join them”. And as the Bible says, they should not join the multitude to do evil.
It’s becoming harder and harder to find politicians that stand out, who can wash their hand clean at the end of the tenure, beat their chest and say that they did what is best for the people all the time and conducted their affairs transparently.
Many people are only interested in how much they can accumulate, and give contracts out in a way that will result in the biggest amount of kickbacks to themselves. Because they now have political power, they want to use it maximally to translate to financial gain to themselves and their hangers-on.
Therefore, those expect to bring change of fortune could only bring change to their pockets. And at the end of the three year tenure of the local government, what we would see would merely be expansion of the circumference of potbellys.
The elected officials, more often than not, allow themselves to be pushed away from holding on to the ethos of probity, accountability and openness. Lies are used to cover lies as they take a detour away from the pursuit of what would be best for the people, to what is best for their pocket.
Their fall for such temptations is most times partly due to the weight of expectations that now lies on them, as many people start seeing them as financial “saviours.” This is really a sorry state of affairs.
Nevertheless all is not lost. Since, what the people want is money. What if the local government elected officials occupy themselves by looking for ways to enhance the earning power of the people? That would be a way to kill two birds with one stone. The people’s lives would be bettered and it would not be because of compromise in anyway, and transparency would be better entrenched in the polity. It won’t be easy but it would be worth it.
What this means is that if the people love themselves and don’t want to be taken for a ride for the next three years, they need to do everything in their power to elect those who will not just be selfless in service but those with the idea capacity to effectively deliver on the hopes and aspirations of the people.
The elected officials need to also harness the strength of the workers at the local government level to sustainably maximise their deliverables. They need to motivate them and spur them to action, impress on them the important role they play.
Not only should they operate an open door policy, but the elected officials need to carry the staff along in their plans and help them to see their work, as not about what they can gain.
The point is that there should be a zero tolerance for corruption.
A shining example for that is seen in the “miracle” of the internally generated revenue of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, being one of the gains of the Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government.
The agency remitted N5billion into the federation account in 2016 and 7.8billion in 2017, as against the “pittance” that has been recorded in the history of the establishment, which has been put in the region of N200m to N500m.
Even for this year 2018, the Board plans to remit N4.26 billion into the federation account, said its Registrar, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, who noted that though the agency is expected generate N14.691billion as Internally Generated Revenue, N7.744 billion of the money would be used for overhead cost items while N2.683 billion is earmarked for capital projects. He added, while answering questions earlier in the year from the Senate Committee on Senate Committee on Tertiary Education and TETFUND, about the Board’s budget, that the examination body was given zero allocation for overheads and capital expenditure components of the 2017 budget, adding that with the 2018 budget proposal, the examination body plans to fund its capital projects from its projected IGR.
That is definitely a positive development and an example for others to follow. Professor Oloyede could have chosen to go the way of the previous Registrars, and do whatever they used to do.
Now when everyone is complaining of lack of funds, JAMB is virtually funding itself even to the extent of funding its own capital projects.
That is definitely the result of having a man who wants to do the right thing at the helms and not just a political opportunists.
The people at the different local governments would do well to put this in mind as they make the decision to elect their representatives at the local government. They should be those who will do the right thing, not interested in learning the evil ropes of how to siphon as much money as you can.
They need people who are stickler for the rules and not those who are always looking for how they would be bent to serve spurious ends.
But sincerity of purpose is not the be all and end all of good leadership. It bears repeating that we need people with good thinking capacity to bring water out of the rock, if need be.