As we prepare for the local government elections, we are reminded yet again of the unfair treatment in the system that could have a serious impact on the nation in the long term. Perhaps this is the right time, if there are ears ready to listen, to make necessary changes so that the whole of our governance system doesn’t go haywire.
Governance doesn’t just start from one end of the society and end on the other side so naturally and harmlessly. It has to be built concertedly with aims bigger than benefits for small sections of people and individuals. Sadly, however, this is exactly what seems to be happening in our happy little society that has toiled so hard to foster harmony.
Democracy arrived and we have had quite a run with it. It is time we learnt how to manage our own household well. That’s the whole point as best it could be understood in a nutshell. It is almost cringingly inane that only candidates who stand for parliamentary elections are eligible for campaign funds. Local governments are as important as our honourable MPs individually, because at the heart of our decentralisation policy lies the idea of empowering the local governments.
Why can’t those manning the very foundation of the governance system be denied of the campaign funds?
There is something wrong in the way we dispense election funds when the vital sections of our government are left to walk on the burning embers, so to speak. If funds could be given to the parliamentary candidates because doing so will curb “undue influence” of money power during elections, there is no reason why those standing for posts in the local governments cannot have. The argument is just too illogical.
Elections will somehow be largely influenced by the power of money because the candidates who stand for the election will have to represent certain sections of the people. If elections didn’t cost one buck, it could have been a different thing altogether. So, why the difference? How are our parliamentary candidates eligible for campaign funds when those who at the very root of the governance system are not?
We are yet to dig the impossible humour that says a candidate standing for a local government post can spend no more than Nu 50,000 of his or her own money for the campaign. We, as constituents, have the right to know what is really the purpose of this rule?
Weakening the local governments will not help democracy mature; plans and programmes that the people wish for will never come true. The least we can hope for is a governance system where people in the power can indefinitely hold on to positions with perks and power while people at the grassroots are let to die of thirst.
The greatest and, perhaps, the clearest mark of a maturing democracy is the respect for equity and justice. If democracy should succeed, local governments must be given equal importance.