THE RISE & RISE OF THE CITIZEN’S OFFICE
The concept of an “office of the citizen” is not new, but it has gained significant prominence in recent years. The office of the citizen refers to the idea that every individual has a responsibility to participate actively in the governance be it in their community and country. In Nigeria, with reference to the recently concluded presidential elections, we can safely conclude that indeed the office of the citizen has arisen.
A third force made a loud statement giving the two major political parties a run for their money. Many did not see it coming though I dropped a hint in an article I wrote a couple of years ago. And no one man can take credit for it; the people, the youth most especially came out in large numbers to make a strong statement. This is a welcome arrangement for Nigeria’s young democracy. But it must be sustained and for the right reasons. There are four areas that the office of the citizen should focus on; engaging with the political structure, holding leaders accountable, producing candidates to vie for public office, and safeguarding the future of the community and country at large. Let us dig in.
One of the primary purposes of the office of the citizen is to hold leaders accountable. In many countries, elected officials are expected to represent the interests of their constituents. However, in practice, this is not always the case. In such situations, citizens should use their collective influence on demanding for transparency, accountability, and good governance. Through organized activism and advocacy, citizens should hold leaders accountable for their actions, which can help to prevent corruption and abuse of power. Once elected officials know that only a record of performance and promises kept can secure a reelection, there will be a change in thinking and action.
Another important function of the office of the citizen is to safeguard the future of the community and country at large. Citizens should play an essential role in shaping public policy and ensuring that their collective interests are represented. By actively participating in the political process, citizens can help to ensure that decisions are made with the long-term interests of the community and country in mind.
The office of the citizen also plays a critical role in producing candidates to vie for public office. In many cases, citizens may feel that none of the existing candidates represent their views or priorities. In such situations, citizens can take it upon themselves to identify, recruit, and support candidates who share their collective values and priorities. By doing so, citizens can help to ensure that there is a diverse range of candidates running for office, which can lead to more representative and responsive government. That way everyone wins.
Finally, the office of the citizen can also help to engage the political structure in constituents. Often, politicians are only responsive to their constituents when they are seeking re-election. It is no longer about voting but being involved. Joining political parties, organizing town halls and performance tracking engagements. By establishing a culture of active engagement and participation, citizens can help to ensure that politicians are always mindful of the needs and concerns of not only their constituents but the public. By engaging with politicians and political parties, citizens can also help to build relationships and foster collaboration, which can lead to better outcomes for everyone involved.
In conclusion, the rise of the office of the citizen is a positive development for democracy and good governance. By taking an active role in the governance of their community and country, citizens can help to hold leaders accountable, safeguard the future, produce candidates to vie for public office, and engage the political structure in constituents. On caveat however, and that is that the office of the citizen must not be abused to settle scores, push self-seeking agendas that push tribal sentiments, personal interests, or reward anger. Otherwise, the good intentions of the office of the good citizen will be hijacked. The last outcome we need is opportunists benefitting from the challenging work of the citizens. As such, the office of the citizen should be celebrated and supported as a vital component of any healthy democracy.