Yemi Adamolekun, executive director of Enough is Enough (EiE) Nigeria, says many Nigerians haven’t realised that they can contact their representatives in the national assembly, let alone demand accountability.
Adamolekun stated this on Thursday, while celebrating her 10th year as the leader of EiE in a virtual conversation tagged ‘Thursday Talks’.
The virtual conversation, which is held monthly to engage thought leaders, was moderated by Maupe Ogun-Yusuf, co-host of Sunrise Daily, a programme on Channels Television.
Adamolekun also noted that culture, religion and the experience of military rule are psychological barriers that influence people’s reluctance to ask politicians hard questions.
“In 2011, late Tosyn Bucknor helped start a radio programme on Mondays and we let people call in and we gave them contact with their representatives. Without fail, people were so surprised that they could call their lawmakers. People should be able to ask politicians questions,” she said.
“Culture — respect for elders is huge. Our language — calling politicians ‘ma’, ‘sir’ and ‘your excellency’; it’s hard to ask questions because these politicians are older citizens and our culture demands respect for them.
“Religion also has affected our minds and we pray a lot; praying for things that should be provided by the government. Military rule also affected how we interact with the government.”
She also noted that politicians are aware of this internalised reluctance, and capitalise on it to mismanage public funds.
“Like Rotimi Amaechi once said: ‘if Nigerians start stoning us with tomatoes on the streets, we will become accountable.’ This shows politicians understand the power of the people,” she said.
“When the government is not deliberate about teaching the citizens their rights, it shows the government doesn’t want to do its work.”