Political Players and the Significance of Accountability


Korede Teriba

A nation practising democracy must have, as its core tenet, the accountability of its political players. Without this tenet, the nation descends into a Hobbesian state of anarchy; leaders can’t hear the led, for they’re despots. Accountability becomes pivotal if true democracy will exist in any democratic institution such as the Association of Faculty of Arts Students. Accountability requires political players to be responsible to the citizens who voted them into power. It places a demand on them to fulfil their electoral promises.

In foregrounding political accountability, American Political scientist, Philip C. Schmitter, in his paper, Political Accountability in ‘Real Existing’ Democracies: Meaning and Mechanisms argues that accountability is a nexus between two actors. The former explains and justifies reasons for actions taken. Also, he/she submits to sanctions the latter imposes for lapses in administration. The latter, on the other hand, subjects himself or herself to rules the former lays and must provide reasons for not doing so. In the context of AFAS politics, the Executive Council and the Legislative Council are the actors. The Executive is accountable to students who, through votes, brought them to power. The Legislative Council is accountable to the constituencies they represent. Political players in both arms justify reasons for actions taken and communicate their views and achievements to students. Students, on the other hand, cooperate with them for the smooth running of the body— AFAS. It’s a mutual exchange of responsibilities.

Significance of Accountability for Political Players
If democracy will be effective in democratic institutions like AFAS, political accountability is pivotal and must be considered. This is to prevent the abuse of power.

Political accountability is pivotal in combatting kwashiorkored governance. When and if student leaders understand the place of accountability in leadership, they will demonstrate their responsibility to students when they occupy an office. This accountability must be demonstrated in the student leader’s manifestos. In office, they live up to the promises made during campaigns, rather than abandon such promises and resort to excuses. Contestants contesting seats in the Executive and Legislative councils in AFAS, before contesting, must realize the onus accompanying the seats they desire. Part of the responsibilities lies in being accountable with their manifestoes. Vain promises only reveal them as hollow. Manifestoes should be properly and realistically crafted to prevent excuses. In Are You Being Served? Political Accountability and Quality of Government, Alicia Adsera, and two other authors wrote:
“As citizens have more precise knowledge about both the policies adopted by politicians and the environment in which they are implemented, policy makers have less room to divert resources to themselves.”

Additionally, political accountability in governance promotes true democracy. Democracy becomes beneficial to stakeholders when AFAS political leaders are honest in their dealings with those who elected them into office. This builds trust between the leader and the led. AFAS politics will further improve when those in power and those aspiring for offices do the needful. As another election draws near, political aspirants in the faculty will do well to note the significance of political accountability to their political careers in the faculty. Philip Schmitter, in foregrounding political accountability in democracy, generically defined democracy as: “a regime or system of government in which rulers are held accountable for their actions in the public domain by citizens acting indirectly through the competition and cooperation of their representatives.”

Moreover, political players in AFAS gain people’s trust when they demonstrate moral accountability rather than resort to manipulation to evade responsibility. Actions must follow words, not just sloganeering to sway the hearts of electorates. Being morally responsible with finances and statements is crucial for leadership. Scrutiny by AFAS Press shouldn’t be viewed as mudslinging or character assassination but as a means of promoting effective leadership in the faculty. Moral leadership is needed to curb corrupt practices in leadership, and this can be achieved through effective accountability to the students being represented.

Financial accountability, in political leadership, can’t be laid in the doldrums. This aspect of accountability in AFAS politics is significant as it puts political leaders on their feet. Matters of finance must be handled with utmost care. To avoid queries, accountability in finances is crucial. Additionally, contestants and aspirants of Executive and Legislative seats shouldn’t view the exalted seats as a means for self–enrichment, but for service to the students who elected them.

Accountability, in political leadership, is what stakeholders must treasure and it’s the key to having a true and effective democratic institution. Student leaders will lead right when they’re held accountable to those who brought them to power.

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