Nigerian citizens can now Interface with the Government - Bode Olugbore - Paul Ukpabio's Blog

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Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Nigerian citizens can now Interface with the Government - Bode Olugbore

By Paul Ukpabio

G2C Interface is here to stay, says the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Politics, Bode Olugbore. Education is key in the knowledge that guides the relationship of the citizens and those that govern them.

Few months ago in the thick of Covid-19 lockdown, Bode started a monthly online zoom meeting with his G2C Interface project where the people in government meet with the citizens and rub minds on issues that concern both sides of the divide and influence the daily existence of both parties and the welfare of the Nation.

According to Bode, it has been a huge learning process for everyone that has been participating in the zoom meetings which has been watched all over the world as participation on the platform has been showing globally. 

Bode does not claim he had a rosy life from childhood. Even having education was a challenge. “But I do disagree that challenges should not stop one from getting education. I can give various examples of people who had to do more, put in more before they could achieve education and they did achieve it. Such was my situation. I have been working right from the age of 17 and now I am 51 because I had to work and school: I have never gone to school on full time, never!

“I worked in various places, and attended various schools while still working. I studied at Yaba College of Tech, Federal University of Technology Akure where I studied Accountancy, and later to Lagos State University where I bagged an MBA in Financial Management. So I can equally say that there is an unseen hand in most of the things that we do. And with this Pandemic, a lot of people will believe more that God truly exist to orchestrate the steps and lives of people and what they achieve.”

Bode said that he didn’t believe in any way that one day he would be in politics. “I was doing other businesses before I got my first appointment to come and serve in Ekiti State as Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Protocol and was appointed there during Governor Fayemi’s first term. Governor Rauf Aregbesola came asking for someone to do the same thing for him in Osun State which is my state, structure the State's Protocol Outfit. Ofcourse that discussion took place and two people in his government mentioned to him that they know a particular guy who is doing such a job in Ekiti. He asked who and where the person is from, and they replied him, Ilesha. So he asked what the person is doing in Ekiti when he could be working for his own state, Osun. So the discussion went back and forth and before you know it, Aregbesola told Fayemi that he needed him to release me to him in Osun State. And the man that brokered it, is the present Vice President of Nigeria. So I switched to Osun state eight years ago prior to him becoming the Vice President. Recently, I was moved to the office of the President. 

It was here that Bode saw firsthand, the conflict and vacuum between the government and the citizen and he created G2C Interface, a platform where the government meets the citizens.

“Having worked in government for ten years consistently, it’s obvious that there is a vacuum between the government and the citizens. Sometimes the people think, that 'oh, the government understands what we are going through' , they know, but how can the person in Abuja know what a particular man is doing in Awka? In reality, what the President knows is that he is giving an ex amount of money to the Governor of each State, hoping that they will use that money to develop that State. If that Governor or the local government Chairman, whom the governor also passes the money to does not use the money to do the development that he is supposed to do, how does the blame go back to the President, who has already released money for such development? So how can we come all the way down to the lowest person in each state to a town hall where they can see and talk to their Governors, Senators and Representatives in a round table, talk to themselves and then share development ideas together. The commonest man may have ideas that can benefit the State. That’s how G2C Interface came up. 

“There are two parts of this project,” says Bode, “The first is the online that we are doing now because of the restrictions of the pandemic but the major part of it is when we go to each State as Presidency, to  leaders and governor. We have been too sycophantic for too long, we have been too full of singing praises of our leaders, and it is time to talk face to face over troubling issues. We will not have forums where one governor hijacks the programme and all the people at the town hall are his people who are also his praise singers: No, but people from diverse parts who will speak truth to government. We will be expecting the citizens to tell us the truth about their situations and we will tell them in what ways we will co-operate with them and their leaders to make better lives for them. We will have their Governors there seated, their Ministers there seated, their house of representatives and others up to the councilors seated and we will hear and act, working on deadlines as we all become accountable to one another. I think our leaders can do better if they actually have a chance of feedback from committed citizens and not praise singers hanging around the corridors of power.



Let me make that clear, government is about the leaders and the followers. Government is not all about President Buhari sitting in Abuja and Osinbajo being in Abuja and Sanwoolu in Lagos. Government is more than that. Government is the leaders and the people as a family. The people we put in charge of leadership are a part of the family we call Nigeria, they are representing us in government. They are managing our resources, our common wealth. So it is not right for us to leave the governing of Nigeria completely in the hands of the leaders that we choose. All hands are supposed to be on deck, every citizen putting their hands on deck and making Nigeria work. 

I will give you an example. It doesn’t make sense for a Nigerian to live in this country, then go to another country and tell them that Nigeria is bad. That is like leaving your house and calling your household bad names, but that is the house you came from. You are that Nigeria that you describe. 

Other countries put their good legs forward; they don’t put their bad legs forward. They show us what is good. We have to awaken Nigerians to their responsibilities which among all, is that we are to walk together and put their best legs forward. Nobody is going to build Nigeria for us.

Asked how he hopes to interface the project with corruption and the issue of presidency sending money to the states and the state not spending it accordingly, along with cases of looting and so on. Bode had this to say: “That is one of the role of the citizens which is to demand accountability from the leaders. Demand from your direct leaders. Don’t go to a hospital in Ilorin and you don’t find doctors or medicines there and then blame it on Lagos State governor. Demand accountability from the government of that particular state and then your local government chairman where that particular hospital is. That hospital has nothing to do with Buhari and Osinbajo at the centre. Ask your immediate leaders! Buhari worries about how to get money to them to do those things, they are the ones to do and supervise the infrastructures so ask them for accountability. On corruption, the Presidency cannot appoint people that they know directly. They appoint people according to recommendations. For instance, for federal appointment for boards, he gets recommendations from State Governors and so on and when he appoints such people and they go and embezzle funds, Mr President should not get the blame. It is for the citizens to see the individual and treat the individual as distinct and then the Governor and those who nominated him also join the people to hold him responsible because he or she represented them in that office.

It is time to stop passing buck from one person to another. Corruption should be treated on an individual basis point. Not even party is involved unless the individual in the matter mentions those involved with him or her in the looting.

And we have even forgotten that when someone is nominated or elected from a particular community or constituency to appointment be it in the local governed state or federal, and the person does not perform, there is what is called a re-call. You can do the re-calling. But who is doing the re-calling? How many government officials have you heard that people have re-called because they were not doing what is right in their positions?

So the citizens have been slacking in their roles of demanding for accountability. A lot of things have not been going on right. And the only way to correct it is by us waking up to be true leaders and citizens, also waking up to be true followers!

For instance it is only this government that has offered and given bail outs to States in order to pay salaries, but you hear of complaints and petitions that some Governors did not use the bail out judiciously for what it was meant for. The citizens will have to rise up and hold such governors accountable! It is the only way to get a better society.

He also talked about the citizens right, state of origin and state of residence. “We have been talking about citizenship and we have been having zoom deliberations on G2C interface. The next one is coming up at the end of the month. We have had the Comptroller General of Immigration, lawyer Femi Falana, quite a number of Nigerians to discuss citizen related issues. For instance at that forum, we got to learn that there is no such thing as state of origin in our constitution that it was just brought to our sub consciousness by the elites. What Nigeria talks about is state of residence. So we have had the idea of state of origin shoot a lot of people down, people who are qualified for offices, a case of a judge who was asked not to take up appointment because her state of origin is different, despite the fact that she is married to someone from that particular state. This is somebody that has lived in the state almost half of her life with her husband. But when it was time for her to take up appointment as Chief Judge of the state, people said no, anyway the case went to court and i think it is still in court. And that is one of the problems that we have had in the nation.

For instance, I am from Osun state. I was not born in Osun state. My elder brother who is ten years older than me, was not born in Osun state. If there is anything that comes up now and he is asked your state of origin he will say Osun, meanwhile he barely knows anything about the state. If not that i went to Osun to work with Governor Rauf Aregbesola, i didn’t know people there, maybe on a few occasions i went there to visit family members but my parents left us in 82 and 83 respectively. Why would you be asking me at this time where i originated from? That has no effect whatsoever on who I am today. I was born in Palm Grove, Lagos State, my children were born in Palmgrove Lagos state, now if you asking them for state of origin, you are asking them to go and claim the certificate of a place that they are not even accustomed to. Except that I worked at Osogbo and on few rare occasions my children came there, they do not know much about the state or anybody in that state. And so we have these crop of people who have lived all their lives in west and their origin is supposed to be from the north but don’t know any single person in the north and you are telling them that their state of origin is in the north. There are a whole lot of people like that. This came out of our discussions,

And what is the way forward for this? Bode replied, “So what we are supposed to do as citizens is to demand for a change from this state of Origin, and demand for government to embark immediately on a change to 'state of residence' . I am happy about what took place at the last NBA conference just a month after we had this same discussion on the zoom channel. We had quite a number of their lawyers who opened us up to the constitution. NBA is taking this matter up now. As long as the citizens are aware of their responsibility, Nigeria will be better. It is always easier though to blame other people but we ourselves, must take action to get better.

We must keep hope alive, for a better Nigeria. 

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