BudgIT Foundation, a civic tech organisation that uses technology to intersect citizen-engagement with public institutions to facilitate improved service delivery and societal change has commended Nigerian citizens for staging a worldwide protest against the culture of recklessness and impunity of officers in the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), a Nigerian Police Force Unit under the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department. BudgIT is excited that citizens elevated the #OfficeOfTheCitizen and affirm their rights of expression and peaceful assembly.
The resistance against this malfeasance began with disgruntled Nigerians taking to their social media platforms to express their anger and dissatisfaction on the persistent affront by the alleged rogue unit. This successfully escalated into full blown world-wide protests with active citizens, constituting mostly young Nigerians, demanding not only an end to the menace, but also a complete overhauling of the Nigerian Police Force. These demands were made on the grounds that the Nigerian Police has consistently subjugated both the human and constitutional rights of Nigerians – especially the younger population – through battery, harassment, intimidation, extortion, torture, blackmail, and in extreme cases, extra judicial executions, thereby defying the standards and values of democracy and public service.
Commending this viral movement that has led to the biggest public protests in the last 8 years, Gabriel Okeowo, BudgIT’s Principal Lead noted that the latest development must go beyond calling out the impunty that has ravaged the Nigerian Police Force, to a wake-up call for every Nigerian to exercise the exclusive authority in the office of the citizen, by questioning every systemic dysfunctionality entrenched in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of Government. More importantly, bearing in mind that the 2023 elections are drawing near, the citizens must not acquiesce to the quid pro quo; rather, they must engage both the incumbent and those campaigning for public offices on issues bordering social equity, economic development and good governance.
“This is not the time to lose the momentum. Citizens must question every government action disproportionate to budgetary allocations and public expectations. We also need to focus on the bigger picture, which is to extend this attitude to other public institutions in Nigeria. Public funds should work for the people, but this won’t happen if we don’t demand for it” He added.
Active citizen participation in governance at the Federal, State and Local levels is the pillar of a true democratic government, and an intrinsic driver of good service delivery as well as socio-economic change in the economy. Thus, active citizens must, first of all, elect only those who represent the true values of democracy, and continually exert their power to influence sustainable changes in critical aspects of the economy.
BudgIT’s is committed to providing Nigerians with the necessary support needed to hold the government accountable through its technology solutions and platforms such as the Personalised Data Portal, LGA.Tracka and Openstates.ng