#JKFeedback: Further Feedback – Let Not Your Good Be Evil Spoken Of By Kwami Adadevoh
This past weekend was a particularly tiring one for me. About a month ago myself and a very good friend and partner of mine, Mrs. Dupe Killa-Kafidipe, were offered the rare opportunity and privilege to co-organise, compere and moderate a unique event where the elected Chief Executive of a state in Nigeria would throw the doors and books of the state open for scrutiny.
My initial reaction was to humbly decline and continue on my other initiatives along with my business responsibilities, then I, as with everything else, made mention of the issue to my wife and she went “So what are the dates and would you like me to come along?” At this point I reminded her that I had not accepted the opportunity and she responds with a snide “Yeah yeah and I only just met you yesterday didn’t I, my darling? I know you want to do it and I think you should. Be a part of history. Who knows how far this may go?”
Anyways, you get that gist. I called back and got back in the groove and the rest as they say is history.
Last night I was directed to see a few tweets asking why the people who attended did not state that some cash was made available to them, my initial reaction was, and still is, that it is a bit presumptuous to demand that people who essentially did not inform twit ville that they were taking a trip should then come on twitter to declare that ‘we received xyz amount for abc’.
Be that as it may however, the issue became one of probity and I will attempt to state the ‘demands’ as I read them –
1. The Bloggers and Social Media Entrepreneurs who attended ought to have stated that they received cash whether it be as reimbursement or as honorarium- I have stated my opinion above and I am yet to see any argument that debunks this;
2. The Bloggers and Social Media Entrepreneurs should not have accepted cash or payment in any form except possibly as reimbursement which should not have been a uniform figure but rather should have been specific to each participant and should have been backed up by receipts. – I will come back to this later
3. That the Bloggers having been previously involved in slating Labaran Maku and his media tour of FGN projects ought to have avoided the event entirely – I will also address this shortly.
4. This was a tongue in cheek one, or at least I think it was – that the participants should feel ashamed that they ‘sold’ themselves for a measly N50,000 (Fifty Thousand Naira only). The assumption here is of course that the participants were offered and they received wages for their time. I think we should commend both a state that’s prudent enough with its resources to not make ridiculous amounts available for the people so as not to sway their judgment and also a group of people who were content with just receiving a sum which essentially was equal to or slightly more than they had expended on the trip. Furthermore, I think we need to be honest with ourselves and admit that most people cannot afford these trips so what would happen if reimbursements are not available is that there would be reduced participation and possibly heavily watered down discussions.
I went through a number of tweets and was unable to find one that essentially slated the content or format of the event. Neither was I able to find any one that could show the possibility of bias as a result of the ‘payment’ made. Just making a simplistic judgment of the matter I’d say this points to the fact that people don’t find anything wrong with the event and what it stands to herald in the sense of ensuring accountability and probity on the part of public office holders. In trying to also wade through the emotive rants and find substance I also deduced that most people would have been happy if the payment was tied to exact amounts expended by people. One thing I take away from the whole episode is the fact that we ought to set standards for public office holders to rise to and not leave loop holes which could be exploited by anyone.
I did find a few people essentially stating that the people should not have gone there at all and that we should only have made the Governor and His Team do it with the people of the state. With due respect to the people of Ekiti State I think we would all agree that, for the most part in a lot of the states in Nigeria we have a mix of apathy and ignorance on constitutional and political affairs. What we hope to achieve with these audit tours is to awaken the local citizenry to the actual responsibilities of the persons elected by them. I admit it is not an easy road but with time and consistent effort we shall get there.
Now to address point 2 above – The Bloggers and Social Media Entrepreneurs should not have accepted cash or payment in any form except possibly as reimbursement, which should not have been a uniform figure, but rather should have been specific to each participant and should have been backed up by receipts. This point was made by a number of people. My take on it is that this is all good but possibly the perfect recipe for an earth shattering migraine. Apart from the incursion into delegates’ independence by deciding the cost of their trip rather subjectively, how is the impossible logistics nightmare of ascertaining take-off and end-locations handled? As it turned out for this event, some (assumed) Abuja-based folks took off from other locations. Perhaps it was just right to assign a value that definitely covered your transportation and incidental cost regardless of your location. What is also possibly a best practice approach would be to make certain sums payable for trips from certain destinations so- say Abuja to Ekiti would get X naira while Lagos to Ekiti would get Y and Ibadan to Ekiti would get Z. We do promise to fine tune before the next event.
On point 3 I disagree with the fact that the two events are similar. The essential difference? There was no opportunity for questions and audit checks during the Maku tours.
Having said all the above may I just restate the fact that a changed society does not happen by chance, it must be deliberately worked for and targeted with focused effort. Something else that must be encouraged is an atmosphere where people are able to question one another without assuming guilt one on the part of the other and the questioned party(ies) must be ready to give detailed responses to the queries with the intent that clarity is achieved.
Now to the next event which shall be announced in due course, we hope that people would be available to ask more questions of the public officials as well as give guidance to the participants on the areas of scrutiny. We can only get better at this with everyone’s contributions. God being our helper
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
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