Citizen’s Charter – The Way Forward
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund) are standards that recognize and protect the dignity of all human beings; how individual human beings live in society and with each other as well as their relationship with the state and the obligations that the state has towards them. Human rights in our society predate colonialism because fundamental freedom was recognized in Nigerian traditional societies. “Things Fall Apart”, a scintillating novel by Chinua Achebe of blessed memory, paints a picture of the cordiality, harmonious co-existence, and respect exemplified in the celebration of the New Yam Festival, that existed before the advent of colonialism.t is not an overstatement that we have witnessed flagrant abuse of human rights In Nigeria in recent times. Human right as defined by
Several dispensations down the line beginning from Clifford Constitution, 1922 and Lyttleton, 1954, Independence, 1960, Republican 1963, 1979 and 1999 Constitutions of Nigeria, have made attempts at entrenchment of fundamental human rights aimed at creating a society that protects political freedom as well as the social and economic wellbeing of Nigerians.
Further efforts to ensure that human rights are protected necessitated the concept of The National Action Plan (NAP 2006) for the promotion and protection of Human Rights, an offshoot of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted at the World Conference in Human Rights in Vienna, Austria in 1993. It requested “each State consider the desirability of drawing up a national action plan, identifying steps whereby the State would improve the protection and promotion of human rights”.
The government of President Olusegun Obasanjo, though not in existence at the time of the World Conference in 1993, found it expedient to implement the recommendation of the Vienna Declaration, which resulted in the emergence of The Nigerian National Action Plan (NAP) for the promotion and protection of Human Rights in 2006. NAP is regarded as an integrated and systematic national strategy to help realize the advancement of human rights in Nigeria. It is an opportunity for identifying and agreeing on areas of co-operation between government departments, the private sector, Civil society in general, and other role players so that together we can improve the protection and promotion of human rights in our country.
Again, to provide an audit of the human rights situation in our country; identifying areas in need of protection and improvement; a commitment to concrete measures that can be adopted to build and entrench a culture of human rights for the enjoyment of all; a framework for sustained and coordinated ways for the country as a whole to protect and promote human rights.
Now, given the present trend of negative happenings in the country, it is not far from the truth that Human Rights have been grossly trampled upon. Space will not permit us to catalogue all the evident human rights abuses now, and still counting, ranging from terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, assassination, robbery, etc. to lopsided governmental appointments and negative economic indices that have eaten deep into the fabrics of our economic lives.
Recent comparative analysis of key indicators by Channels Television between 2015 and 2021 shows the following startling revelations:
|Exchange Rate||$1/ N197||$1/ N410|
|Foreign Reserves||$28.57 BN||$34.27 BN|
|GDP Growth Rate||2.79%||1.92% (2020)|
It, therefore, seems that the government is overwhelmed and at its wit end. Dwindling fortunes occasioned by unquantifiable insensitivity to the plight of the citizens!
What is the way forward?! CITIZENS CHARTER!!!
Citizen’s Charter – The Way Forward (Contd.)
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us; we are dependent on him. He is not an interruption on our work; he is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider on our business; he is part of it. We are not doing a favour by serving him; he is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.
The above quote from Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948), leader of India’s non-violent independence movement against British Rule, inspired movements for civil rights and freedom that resulted in a successful campaign for India’s independence from the colonial masters on 15 August 1947. The quote reflects deeply on the concept of Total Quality Management (TQM) developed by William Edwards Deming (1900 – 1993), an American Professor and Management Consultant, best known for his work in Japan after the Second World War and beyond, whose skills, strategies and modus operandi facilitated Japanese economic recovery.
In the TQM philosophy, apart from adaptability to changing or emerging market conditions, environmental and socio-cultural issues, etc., improved customer (people) focus and satisfaction was/is at the centre-spread.
For any economy, nay, governance to succeed, the focus has to be on the people. The people are the raw materials; they are the ‘clay’ that needs moulding into ‘a pot’ or ‘cup’ or ‘plate’, as the case may be. So, sustainable leadership places emphasis or pays attention to the people and attempts to answer these salient WH-questions: who are the people? Where are the people? What are the people doing? When do they need attention? And how can people be moulded into usable forms and shapes for their overall well-being?
Perhaps, our leaders are not asking thought-provoking questions whose answers could help reposition our economy, which is why the economy, nay, Nigeria is in a rigmarole or better put, standing on a spot.
Citizen’s Charter, a British political initiative, launched in 1991 by the then Prime Minister, John Major, is an “instrument of citizen-centric governance that confirms quality in public service delivery by holding public sector organisations directly accountable, responsive and transparent”. Its main objective is to empower the citizens in relation to public service delivery. The six-principle, Citizens’ Charter movement which revived economies globally, aroused considerable interest around the world.
Countries implemented similar programmes, though with modifications to suit their local contexts. From Australia, 1997 to Canada 1995, Belgium 1992, France 1992, India 1997, Jamaica 1994, Malaysia 1993, Portugal 1993, Spain 1992, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries comprising thirty-seven countries, etc.
The application of this concept worked and is still working effectively in these countries for sustainable growth and development. The focal point is the people and answers are provided about – who the people are? Where the people live? What do the people do? When do the people need help? And how the people’s well-being can be catered for?
Major’s Citizen’s Charter initiative encapsulates, among others, ‘quality’ – improved quality of service to the people, proper code of conduct and grievance redressal mechanism.
Oftentimes, political parties make voluntary declarations about their mandates – what the people should expect from them. The hapless citizens would resign themselves to their fate upon flagrant failure of these parties to live up to expectation. No mechanism is put in place on how to seek a remedy if something goes wrong, that is, if the political parties fail to fulfil their mandate. For decades, this has always been the scenario which is why there is an urgent need for a paradigm shift.
The present “go and grab your own” syndrome that bedevils our political landscape can only spell doom for our country as the common man on the streets is never their priority. They milk the country dry and keep galloping on our deplorable roads with their bulletproof vehicles; enjoy meteoric devaluation in Naira value against the dollar and other foreign currencies; trade-in cryptocurrencies; watch banks effect exploitative interest rates and charges; power their homes with high KVA generators unbothered about fluctuations in electricity supply and unwarranted tariff by the providers; create a monopoly for some powerful individuals for essential products; starch away looted funds in foreign banks; maintain sealed lips when they are supposed to correct the ills; unmindful of poor services offered by GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) providers; turn deaf ears to human rights violations, and all of that.
Indeed, a true reflection of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ story of “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”. So, the ‘pigs’ will have to drink the milk all alone because according to them, the burden of administering the ‘farm’ rests on their shoulders. At any rate, it was not surprising therefore when the other animals on the farm gathered and sang the “Beast of England and the Beast of Ireland” song to overthrow the ‘tyrant’ man to bring in “joyful tidings for the golden future times”.
Something positive can still be done to reshape, mould and transform our country and take it out of the present predicament. That is why we are advocating for the entrenchment of the Citizen’s Charter initiative of John Major. It worked and is still working for others; it can work for us.