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Public Accountability And Constitution - YAINSRIC

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In a way there is nothing controversial about the need to ensure public accountability. The need for it is widely accepted in this country. There are of course powerful groups and cliques, with clearly fascist and super-elite tendencies in bureaucracies and business companies who only pay a grudging lip-service to this and only keep quiet because the conception of the 'public' is at present so fuzzy. But in spite of this super-elitism and the fuzziness, the need to ensure that leadership is genuinely accountable to the public is certainly widely accepted. If the debate had really taken-off and without the publication of our restructuring draft and a systematic mass political education exercise it cannot take off -- some fundamental issues relating to public accountability would have been raised. The question: what is the precise purpose and objective of making the leadership accountable to the public would have been tackled. Other issues like what is 'the public' or who exactly constitutes 'the public', what does accountability mean and on what what level or levels are it operation meaningful, given its defined objectives would all have been grappled with.


It is clearly important to establish the purpose of public accountability. At the most immediate level its purpose may be a cliche intended to prevent discussion of participatory democracy and reduce it to an empty phrase. It is important to establish this purpose even if some people dismiss the attempt as theoretical, academic or idealistic for these have become derogatory word in discussion in this country, as one is supposed to have no theory, to be non-academics and to have no ideals. 

Is the purpose of public accountability essentially to prevent agitation and protest and keep the public understand what the leaders are doing for them so that they can more effectively follow and submit ? Or is the purpose essentially to render account in the sense of profit or loss of public revenue ? Or is the purpose of public accountability to enable the public to control the goals, nature, methods and operations of a political system on a permanent basis through a continuous flow of information, discussion and decision in popular organs ?

But even if we answer these questions there is still the issue of what constitutes 'the public'. All types of leadership in society, without exception, are accountable in one way or another to a public. The issue is which public?  It may consist of shareholders or boards of directors of the large transnational corporation ? It may consist of the Nigerian bureaucratic and business agents of these? It may consist of a group or interlocking groups in some institutions ? It may consist of a collection of church or mosque congregation. It may be a clan or tribal union or some such body ? It may be an old boys' association ?

The point I am making is that what we need is not just public accountability but a clear and pervasive grasp that in a genuine democracy this public should consist essentially of common people, the exploited and humiliated masses of peasants and wages earners.


Adekanye_Gcpa
Youth Awareness Initiative For Social Reform And Ideal Change - YAINSRIC

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