A trustee is expected to take care of money and assets on behalf of the beneficiaries.
Ironically and rather tragic, the concept of stewardship seems far less embedded in society today. If anything, systemic acts of corruption, political indecency, rot in the social fabric among others attest to morals erosion.
The breach to fiduciary duty by those managing public affairs and are enriching themselves are lethargic to performing oversight, leading to more pain instead of gain.
Over time, public service has turned to serving self, and finding it difficult to grasp shocking revelations on theft of public resources exposed in audit reports.
Environmental degradation and destruction of water catchments and forest reserves, polluting water bodies by industrialists hurt man and aquatic life while politics continues endlessly.
Replacing interest of the masses with own interest if unchecked exposes the governed to repercussions of commissions and omissions by minority few.
This kind of disloyalty is a product of laissez-faire policy guided by an assumption that a free market has inbuilt mechanisms that protect societies against tyrannical excesses.
Another factor is failing to do due diligence while handling public affairs, a fundamental expectation on the part of those entrusted with control and execution of State power and means.
More often than not, those in authority get accused of veering off course by embracing acts of salesmanship, product marketing, short-term speculations, tenderpreneurship and conflict of interest in place of core values of stewardship, prudence in resource management, goals that would deliver value for money.
Notably, abuse of stewardship role in the conduct of public affairs inflicts incalculable damages and suffering to the citizenry and social order.
Probably, these necessitate a paradigm shift that makes fiduciary duty more purposeful and beneficial at improving the welfare of the critical majority of the people as noted by Justice Harlan Fiske Stone.
By adopting and sufficiently entrenching principles of stewardship in governance structures, attributes of trust, honour, and devotion to service delivery get nurtured.
These principles include putting the public interest first, acting prudently, diligently, skillfully and making a sound professional judgment.
Others are not to mislead the public by providing conspicuous, full and fair disclosure of facts and avoiding conflict of interest and corruption to fully disclose and fairly manage unavoidable conflicts in favour of the common man.
Ultimately, fiduciary duty, first and foremost, purposes to serve and promote the best interest of the common man.
That way, citizens are empowered in safeguarding her interests.
That way, Wanjiku — the common man — is empowered to check and protect her interests.