A political squabble over the distribution of aid to Nigerians struggling during the COVID-19 lockdown exposes the crisis of trust in Nigerian politics, a digital democracy campaigner believes.
A number of high profile Nigerian politicians have publically criticised the delivery and transparency of support payments made to those affected by the coronavirus crisis using the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).
Among them was National Assembly member Ben Kalu. Speaking in a televised interview he said:
“We are supposed to feel the impact now. The poor should feel the impact of this programme… there are 360 of us (assembly members) and all of them are saying we are not feeling the impact.
“Who are you paying this money to?.. you said you paid 100 people from my constituency, we can’t see them. Are they ghosts? Are you paying ghosts?”
Senate President Ahmed Lawan has also criticised a lack of co-ordination in the COVID-19 relief effort, stating:
“I believe that we face one critical challenge today in our fight against COVID-19. We have donations made by various organisations, corporate bodies and so on but it is my candid opinion that there is no coordination,”
Presidential advisor Hajiya Maryam Uwais hit back, claiming that critics of the programme were motivated only by the desire to personally choose which if their residents received support, claiming:
“The demand for the inclusion of candidates to the NSR from the NASS has been a recurring issue from the inception of the NSIPs”.
Digital democracy campaigner and technology entrepreneur Joel Popoola believes the quarrel demonstrates a crisis of trust in Nigerian politics.
Joel is the creator of Rate Your Leader app. The app is designed to help politicians engage directly with voters and build relationships of trust with the electorate, as well as transmitting important information to them.
The app also allows voters to identify and contact their representatives at the touch of a button, direct from their phones or tablets – and rate them for their responsiveness.
“How are Nigerians supposed to trust their politicians when Nigeria’s politicians don’t trust each other?
“Lawmakers find themselves in an unprecedented situation. Of course, there are going to be delays getting help to people that need it most as our government scrambles to create new and complex social programmes overnight. On the other hand, legitimate scrutiny of their performance and the final destination of this money should not be seen as being motivated only by personal greed.
“Rate Your Leader was created to develop relationships of trust between electors and elected, but in a time of national crisis, our lawmakers need to set a much better example by working together in the national interest.
“Our politics needs more trust, and at Rate Your Leader our aim is helping that trust to take root and grow”.
Rate Your Leader, is always free app to residents and allows voters to communicate directly with elected representatives in a way that makes abuse impossible, as well as rating them for responsiveness. The app is available from Apple and Google Marketplaces.