Why do our governments not respond to issues?

The governments of the day at all levels in this country face many accusations of very serious acts of commission and omission to which they say nothing whatsoever. The issues affect debts owed to citizens as workers or contractors, lack of attention to decaying public utilities, poor services, safety, neglect of poor people with no means of livelihood, introducing policies that increase suffering and hardship.
We also have the mother of them all – the immunity clause. This is the unacceptable law that makes anybody who wins election in Nigeria as president or vice president, governor or deputy governor unimpeachable, even when they are clearly lawless and sinful.
The law does not say that those people cannot or do not sin. It is a constitutional law, a law above all laws. It is not removable and cannot be questioned. It is a complete fortification and safeguard for leaders at the top when they sin. They sin and fail in their duties most. It urges them to go on sinning without consequences. The astonishing law pardons them before and after they have sinned. Their sins however heinous or grave are by law, not to be counted as sin. That’s the immunity clause of the Nigerian law.
If you ask me, I’ll say that this law is the main reason governments don’t have time to talk to anybody. If you like shout yourself hoarse or bleed to death about corruption, you waste your time.  Why do they have to bother, when they are answerable for nothing and to nobody? They have immunity. They have been told by the constitution that they can never go wrong. If they accept accusations of wrongdoing they will be going against the same constitution which they swore to defend. The law even disables the judiciary from being in a position to get involved in the matter of immunity. The Courts have no jurisdiction in it. This is a strange law that forbids the judiciary as an arm of government fulfilling its constitutional duty. It substantially takes away the power that belongs to the people in a true democracy.
Before this was inserted in the Constitution, what was the aim or intention? What did the country want to achieve by it? What was the spirit of that provision? How did it get in? Who did that? No reasoning on earth will justify a law to exonerate people in leadership from wrongdoing and culpability before an offence is committed by them. These people already have powers enough to do and undo. And this was added unto them to make the people being led much more powerless. It was a law drafted by bad people who hoped to benefit by it. Now they are taking full advantage of it and brook no interference. This is the first time I am seeing a law designed to work in favor of the potential law-breaker as well as the suspect.
Let me explain the  strange argument of those who want to defend and of course benefit from the law. They claim that without the immunity law, national leaders would be required to use a lot of their time of work to answer to frivolous complaints and accusations. What happens when accusations are genuine? Would all accusations be always un-called for? This is an assumption that a piece of legislation would normally not make. But it is made here.
Well, since the law makes this absurd and ridiculous assumption, the consequences have become inescapable. Some of them are that the leaders do what selfishly like regardless of how the masses feel; the law has been set to protect the law-breaker. The leaders use the law as what it is, a license to break as many laws as possible. They can disobey Court orders. They can owe their workers. They can disregard the principle of separation of power. They can violate the people’s right to property. They can violate fundamental human rights. They can violate election rules and regulations or laws. They can make and implement their own laws. They can neglect their duties and violate their oath of office. They will be capable of all abuses of power.  When the laws are broken at will by the leader, the people feel free to do the same. The consequences of these for the governed are inestimable, innumerable and incalculable.
All these signal to the failure of government in climes such as ours. For they have compromised the sensitivity of governments. They will not respond to issues needing their attention. They risk nothing in not doing so, but are complying with a constitutional provision that gives immunity to them when they do wrong which actually is no wrong. The immunity clause makes what we may call a wrong an entitlement which the official should claim or take advantage of in his own interest, as intended by the law.
I am trying to know why governments in Nigeria respond to no issues needing their attention. I find the answer in the immunity clause. Search no more. That’s where it is.  The clause is a cultural insertion enabling leaders to be rulers who are above the law and only will exercise hegemony over the subjects.  A person is, under that law not a citizen but a subject, a voiceless subject. This is incompatible with democratic tenets and the culture of certain parts of the country and most parts of the civilized world. But it is perfectly in order with the northern section. When a northern president or governor pronounces against corruption meaning the normal practice of converting state money into his, according to the governance culture there, he is merely contradicting himself and his people. The southern leader, in not taking to the footsteps of his northern colleague in this regard, is merely cheating himself and will live to regret it. His northern counterpart is incorrigible and un-teach-able about the practice.
That’s why Abacha took as much as he took and a stadium is named after him, to hail him. That’s why corruption will never go. It will only go when the immunity clause is removed, which will in turn remove the mentality of hegemony among leaders over the people.
There is need to revisit democracy if leaders in government will respond to issues. The hegemonic and undemocratic segments may have to part ways with the democratic segments. Or there will be serious effort to harmonize their tendencies to be intolerant of each other in the vital area of style of leadership. In Nigeria what we call corruption is entrenched, legitimate spoils of office taken as of right, while it is also perfectly in order for a leader to be answerable to nobody. People simply waste their time thinking it is otherwise and calling it a name it is not.

About the author

Christian Voice