How to stop Politicians from embezzling public fund
Sometimes ago, I was an adhoc staff of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) where I led a team of corps members to Ido Local government in Oyo State for registration and distribution of the Permanent Voters Card. Our job was to ensure that all polling units and wards in the local government register and obtain the PVC within three (3) days which was later extended to one week. This was the period I understood local politics and to attest to the fact that all politics are local irrespective of the jamboree on social media. Social Media as a great tool complements but does not replace local politics. This view is also validated by the recent revelations regarding Cambridge Analytica and Facebook alleged involvement in 2015 elections.
During my time in this local government which houses about 15 wards and local communities, I noticed abject poverty and pre-colonial way of living. The Literacy level of the communities was nothing to write home about and sadly, this was a local government whose chairman at the time was a Professor and now a commissioner for education in the same state. In my interactions with the young people who were jostling for councillorship positions as soon as the governorship election was concluded showed that no deliberate effort was put in place at the local level to prepare leaders for public offices. The young people of these communities just wanted to be in public offices for all the wrong reasons-satisfy a desire born out of selfishness or greed. No credible track records or future blueprints.
This same set of people was cajoling the old and elderly women/men to register for PVC and sometimes sponsored their trips from the remote part of the town to the registration point after which they collected PVC from them. These are the supposed future leaders of the communities.
The second story happened in my own local government in Osun State. After several attempts at contesting for the chairmanship position, Mr. Ogun (not real name) eventually emerged and was sworn in. At the swearing-in-ceremony was a lot of funfair from across the four towns that make up the local government. There were local drummers and dancing groups eulogising the newly elected executive members. From that moment, the trouble started for the chairman, vice chairman and other members of the cabinet. Each town, ward, polling and family units had different expectations and the politicians must satisfy them all, else, they risk being voted out in the next election.
The moment an individual is elected or appointed into public office in Nigeria, his kinsmen would begin to start placing unnecessary demands on their financials. They expect them to start sponsoring their children or ward school fees or be the one to sponsor all the family’s financial obligations. This singular act by the people put a lot of pressure on political office holders and in an attempt to keep up with societal expectations, they begin to dip hands into public funds. These cycle then continues from leader to leader.
If as a people, we want to have a good system of governance and allow a corruption free society, then we must begin to work hard rather than depend on politicians who ordinarily are placed there to serve us.
Adetunji Adeniran is a civil engineer and social entrepreneur based in Lagos.