By Susan Okolie, EPLF Fellow
Interestingly, Almond and Verba in the book “The Civic Culture” (1963) differentiated between political cultures in which citizens were active or inactive in civic affairs, explored the relationship between citizen participation and attitudes toward their political system, and maintained that a country’s political institution must coincide with its political culture for it to have a stable political system.
In explaining the context above, a citizen is a person who, is legally recognized by place of birth, nationality of one or both parents, or naturalization and is granted full rights and responsibilities as a member of a nation or political community.
In ensuring that a citizen’s participation and attitude towards his/her political system is active, there are many legal benefits and privileges to enjoy certain rights and these rights are referred to as inalienable rights specially provided by the constitution which may include the right to vote, hold public office, to security, to health services, to public education, to permanent residency, to own land, or to engage in employment, freedom of expression, to demand accountability from your government within the ambit of the law amongst others.
Unarguably, an average citizen out of inexperience, lack of awareness, or lack of information about the inalienable rights of the citizen, may assume that it is only the people in authority or in leadership positions that have the sole right to exercise their rights, responsibilities and owe their obligations to the country. However, it is expedient to note that as a citizen of Nigeria, you have an Office, and you are charged with the responsibility to serve, support, and defend the country as much as the Government. In this regard, The Office of the Citizen in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized, because, without it, there would be no government.
Furthermore, just as Almond and Verba maintained, a country’s political institution must coincide with its political culture for it to have a stable political system, and this can only be achievable through active citizens’ engagements in promoting representative democracy and good governance.
In addition to this, other obligations and responsibilities required of true citizens include, among others:
a. Obedience to the laws, especially the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
b. Payment of taxes, loyalties, rates, and other approved bills;
c. Loyalty to those in authority at all levels;
d. Commitment towards respect of rule of law;
e. Ensuring unity and promoting diversities;
f. Protection of public properties and assets; respect for the national symbols and promoting the dignity of Nigeria;
g. Attending civic meetings as well as engaging other citizens towards national development;
h. Participating in periodic elections; and promoting good governance;
i. Ensuring accountability and transparency in public sector governance, and performing community and humanitarian services; and
j. Ensuring women and youth empowerment, promoting peace and security.
Written by Susan Okolie