The Nigerian National Assembly
As long as Nigeria continues the policy of resource-capture,it would remain a trust-fund-state and it’s government, unaccountable.The truth is that,under the present arrangement,the government controls too much money.With seemingly unhindered and independent access to a limitless pot of money,the government cannot feel the need to seek the approbation of the people.If the government feels it can do without the approval of the people,it has little incentive to govern in the interests of the people.It does not need to go to the people for money ,for it’ running and administration.
The corollary to this situation,is that the people themselves will not demand good governance,since they are not responsible for the financial upkeep of the government.And unless people absolutely demand good governance,they are not going to get it.Governments,anywhere in the world,have to be pushed to perform to the satisfaction of the people.Taxation,in this regard,is central to good governance,because people will demand probity and accountability from the government,if they are financing it,with their hard-earned money.This is a “quid pro quo”. Taxation for representation.
The reason corruption is so prevalent here is because,people are nonchalant about it.I can assure you that,were people sustaining the government through taxation,reports of corrupt practices would be more gut-wrenching and visceral,with a good chance of leading to mass protests.The thought of politicians stealing your money ,not “our” money,would prove sufficient motivation to take some sort of action.If politicians understood that stealing of public funds would be attended by serious consequences,they would desist.Politicians would not behave well because they are good people,but because they fear the people.They would have no choice.
Currently,most of us have no deep conviction that government money is really “my” money.With the exception of those from the Niger Delta,most Nigerians cannot really explain how government could be taking money from them.How can you feel government is in your debt,when your ancestral lands and rivers are all intact,especially being African.How can the government owe you anything,including accountability?.Except in the Niger Delta,where the despoiled environment is proof enough that someone is taking something from them.Any wonder then,that they are the only Nigerians to take up arms against the government for purely economic reasons?
I am willing to bet that if the government were been kept by our taxes,and kept is the right word,government would be more responsive to the feelings and needs of the people.Certainly,we would not have a situation where,even though we have a GDP per capita of $2,150 compared to $48,368 for the United States,according to the world bank(2009 figures),we still manage to pay our senators $1.7m a year, compared to $174,000 and $400,000 for the American senator and president respectively.Even for a people with a gift for travesty,this is outrageous.I bet you are raining curses on those guys.Believe me,if we were paying for all this ,we would not limit our reaction to cursing.We would act too.