The much-talked-about social contract expects the citizen to pay tax, submit loyalty along with all weapons of violence to the Sovereign. In return, he gets protection from the Sovereign.
It is a deal. Modern governance or democracy adds liberty and equal access to a good life as part of the deal. To enhance this deal further, the citizen is allowed to have a say in how the Sovereign/King/President is selected or elected. This way, the ultimate Sovereign becomes the vote that employed the functional Sovereign who becomes the Chief Servant or Prime Minister or President.
Last week, this thought came to mind when platforms were floated to press citizens to register and vote out bad leadership. Many considered the message as very marginal, what they call truth by half.
Citizens of voting age do not register because they encountered a bad government and must rise and vote it out. First, voting out ‘bad government’ is not a guarantee that a good government has been voted in.
It is a docile citizen that seeks to vote out a bad government. A functional citizen strives to vote in a good government; in societies where votes are allowed to count.
The task of voting in a good government is not easy. To vote out a bad government is simpler: Just vote “no”. To vote in a good government first requires a citizen to know what good governance is all about. The first point of call in learning about good governance is understanding the fundamental piece of legislation that governs the steps of any administration in fulfilling the desires of the citizen: the annual budget.
In it, the sitting government/administration scours the national or state boundaries to pitch together all the possible sources of revenue. But new administration tries to identify areas previously untapped and collates them all. Next, it rolls out the allocation of the estimated resources according to its prioritization system.
What sets an administration apart from another is its ability to identify untapped areas and the degree of discipline in assembling these areas with less or no leakages. This makes the new administration’s budget higher than the ousted one. The next is what the new administration tables as number one and number two down the line. The budget is the annual contract booklet between a citizen and the government.
A country (like Nigeria) where citizens do not know this or do not care about this mechanism is doomed. Is Nigeria doomed? We should make ourselves functional citizens who state clearly what their government should do and how they should do it.
We must be citizens that pay attention to annual budgets, suggest where money should be made to do the many things we want to be done. A budget that can only fetch N7 trillion but expenditure is stated as N13 trillion is surely not realistic without borrowing almost half of the budget. This is the crux of the citizen’s expectation and where functional citizenship is urgently needed.
Citizens don’t just register because they hate a current or present administration. That’s not all about democracy. You register because you want to be part of making the next government/administration.
The only problem is, do the agencies of government that seem hijacked by corrupt politicians allow votes to count? It makes votes not seem to count. So, how do we make votes count?
We should encourage citizens to massively register and vote so that the leadership that will emerge will reflect the voting. Then, a people will deserve the kind of government they get. Here, is electronic voting the hungered solution or another step to deeper shit?
Functional citizens know the difference between a bad and good government. The difference is not in promising a long list of goodies but about knowing how the goodies would be produced and shared. For now, every person outside the government specializes in listing longer menus to give to the masses. They have never tried to show how they would raise funds to do these things. It’s about WHAT they will do, never about HOW they will do it. Sadly, we agree.
But a functional citizen should ask for the HOW!