By Basheer Luqman Olarewaju
The whole idea of democracy is to ensure that one part of the citizens does not dominate the others and that none abuses its powers and privileges. In Nigeria, most especially, Kwara State, the existence of political elites versus the masses is not alien to our governance but while it is ideal to recognize their inter-dependence, an enlightened executive governor will be careful in treating every interest of these people in order not to betray the public.
Questions are raised where necessary and anything that has tendency to subsume the powers and relevance of good governance in the name of supporting the superior stakeholders are vehemently resisted. In all actions, words and thoughts, the executive governor of Kwara State, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq must continue to guard against losing public goodwill, confidence and credibility.
However, the recent brouhaha in the state politics has evidently shown that certain individuals would rather have him be a rubber stamp not only passive and compromising but to ultimately cede his statutory function of leading the citizens aright, protecting the life and properties particularly on the innocent people of Kwara State.
Such plot if welcomed by His Excellency would only subject him to lose his substance as a pillar holding and stabilizing democracy in the state. It would as well reduce him to mere appendage, doing always the biddings of the political caucuses at the expense of focusing on driving the state to an envisioned pedestal where we all can say, this is Kwara of our dream.
Recall, a rubber stamp, as a political metaphor, refers to a person or institution with considerable de jure power but little de facto power -one that rarely or never disagrees with more powerful organs. Historian Edward S. Ellis called this type of government “a toy government”, with specific reference to Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II’s General Assembly of the Ottoman Empire, created in 1876 with the sole purpose of appeasing the European powers. One of the most famous examples of a rubber stamp institution is the Reichstag of Nazi Germany, which unanimously confirmed all decisions already made by Adolf Hitler and the highest-ranking members of the Nazi Party.
The experiences of that era naturally, coupled with some other political dynamics must trouble the minds of Kwarans for any ‘non-combative’ Executive arm of government as being a rubber stamp to the superior stakeholders. In Kwara, like what we fought against, any similar agitation for the governor to be answerable not to the generality of the citizens but certain powerful organs should be eternally resisted. And this is arguably the basis for, while avoiding being a rubber stamp, the 7th executive governor inaugurated just about twenty months ago, is being labelled a traitor, and a victim of series of unfair criticisms and unwarranted attacks.
Alas, all the claims of ‘betrayal, dictatorial, ‘ are hasty, baseless, and unfounded. This is because a government primarily is for the well-being of the citizenry, and making sure that it is known for good governance as well as representing the people without fear or favour. And it is only when the superior organs realize that no special treatment whatsoever ahead of the masses that a government can deliver in its obligations. Without this, no government can easily actualize its goals and objectives. As such it is uncharitable to wage war against a man who refused to be a rubber stamp in the public interest.
However, criticism is an essential ingredient of responsive governance. But it is only when it is issue-based and not partisan-motivated or self-serving. Also, I am aware the government- party relationship is important. It is fine if they worked it out fine. That demands patience, honesty, and a large dose of patriotism. It is watery to keep labelling Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq as a product of endorsements by the governing party and of course, the presidency, as a reference of lowered standard or compromise of principle in relation to its emergence.
Clearly, the ballot for AbdulRazaq’s election as executive governor of Kwara State cut across party lines including regional and religious divides; thus implying that his choice underscores a combination of nationalistic appeals, rich intellectual capacity, amiable personality, firmness of character, shared vision and executive prowess. One other factor central to his increasing popularity is his consistent leadership concerning a tremendously-improved and mutually-beneficial relationship with the other arms, particularly the legislature, for the benefit of the state.
Upon assuming office, he has profoundly consolidated his commitment through series of pragmatic steps. This in practical terms, validates the assertion that AbdulRazaq was voted in as Governor largely on the basis of his professed disposition to partner the visionary individuals and organizations in delivering the dividends of democracy to the people. It means also that it is an idea borne out of deep conviction and equally embraced by Kwarans. In other words, it is a corporate strategy that is not just about partisan sentiments or political correctness but about humanity. It is evidently a product of visionary leadership mentality and shared vision.
Meanwhile, as a proactive and responsive leader, AbdulRazaq, is effectively bridging the gap. He is resolute about his policy that the administration shall use all available channels to ensure a regular flow of information to the general public and encourage feedback and dialogue so that it remains responsive to the people that they were elected to serve. It is audible to the deaf and visible to the blind that in Kwara, #Isenlo. He seems determined not to lose focus and disappoint the people who entrusted him with the mandate to serve. “At the end of the day, Kwarans will win.”137