The concept of democracy has received varying definitions and interpretations from scholars and political observers depending on the ideological leaning or interest of the contending scholars. However, there are certain basic features of democracy that serve as consensus among the contending perspectives. One of such is accountability. Every democratically elected government is accountable to the people, to whom it owes its existence. It is, therefore, imperative that the people be consistently informed about how their mandate is being utilized.
This, indeed, is the major motivation behind the Ambode administration’s resolve to run an all inclusive government. Ambode’s idea of an all inclusive government is one in which “no one or segment of the society, irrespective of colour, race, faith, status, ability or disability is left behind”. The philosophy of the current administration in Lagos State is that for democracy to truly remain the government of the people, by the people and for the people, the active involvement of the people in governance must always be constantly encouraged and, indeed, deliberately courted. This is because the citizens are the bedrock of democracy. The Ambode administration has never derided itself of having the monopoly of knowledge with regards to finding the right solutions to the myriad of challenges confronting the State. It has, therefore, consistently thrown its doors open to divergent opinions and views from various sources. As a people’s Government, the administration plans to establish an effective communication strategy, which would give no room for any break in communication between the government and the governed.
Consequently, ever since its inauguration in May this year, the Ambode administration has made wide consultations with various stakeholders on diverse sectors of the State. The major goal in seeking the input of stakeholders is to create strategic ways to determine ways of evolving ideas that will alleviate the sufferings of the people and improve the quality of social life and economic development. This was what informed some of the several stakeholders’ forums which it has held especially with the aim of adopting and adapting some of the best practices in the advanced nation.
Universally, effective service delivery has been identified as a significant force that propels socio- economic development. It is, however, regrettable that since independence, Nigeria is yet to have and implement effective and reliable service delivery system. Therefore, the Ambode administration in opting to run an all inclusive government in order to provide a steady forum for local and international experts and stakeholders in public administration, drawn from the private, public and non-governmental sectors, to brainstorm and provide solutions on key contemporary and emergent issues confronting the public sector. Consequently, the state government has been able to examine the different challenges and issues confronting public governance in the state, as well as prioritizing key areas where action is needed. This would enable the state to balance competitiveness with quality of life and institutionalized sustainability.
Similarly, in order to sustain good governance through prudent management, the state government, in partnership with both public and private sectors’ stakeholders, has been examining and evaluating the existing weak revenue base and low cost recovery in the state’s public sector and proffer practical solutions towards ensuring financial sustainability. The result, of course, has been quite far reaching as it could be seen in the recent improved revenue base of the state government.
Equally related is the fact that the state government , still in collaboration with various stakeholders through its numerous public engagement forums, has equally been analysing the financial complexities involved in building, operating and maintaining public infrastructure, capable of meeting the needs of a rapidly expanding urban population; and examining the pivotal role of the private sector in contributing to enhance efficiency of public service delivery; and to ultimately; finding ways and means of harmonizing responsibilities at the state and local government levels regarding the multiplicity of agencies with overlapping and-related functions, particularly as it relates to policies, regulations, revenue generation, planning, and maintenance of public infrastructure.
One cannot but lay emphasis on the key role which all inclusive governance could play in encouraging more residents of the State to embrace the culture of tax payment. In our society, everyone blames the government for almost everything. Unfortunately, the resources available to the government in servicing the needs of the people are quite minimal when compared to the huge needs of the people. It is in order to resolve this imbalance that the state government has been stressing the need for taxable residents of the state to regularly pay their taxes.
This much was emphasized at the maiden Town Hall meeting recently held by the Ambode administration at Abesan mini stadium, Ipaja, Lagos. The forum equally afforded the governor the avenue to rub minds and exchange ideas with the people on how best to move the state forward. Similarly, the governor used the occasion to inform the people about some of the steady strides that his administration has made within such a short spate of time. For instance, the people were duly informed at the event that the recent realignment of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government in the state, as well as other re-structuring that has taken place in the state public service, has saved the government over N3billion monthly.
In order to institutionalise his administration’s plan to constantly engage the public on various issues of governance, the Ambode administration created the Office of Civic Engagement, in the Deputy Governor’s Office, to effectively synchronize engagements between the government and the public. Through this, the citizens have been provided with a platform that could make reaching out to the government a seamless task. The Office serves dual purposes. One, it enables the people to make their needs known to the government. Two, it aids the government to ensure the execution of people-driven programmes.
Given the current thinking in the state, the place of the citizens in governance cannot be over emphasized. However, in as much as the government is ever ready to carry the people along in the scheme of things, it is equally imperative that the people fully cooperate with the government in ensuring the full realization of the lofty policies and programmes of the government for the people. It is only in doing this that the state could attain lofty heights.