OBVIOUSLY, one of the greatest problems of politics in Nigeria (and indeed many parts of the world, since after the times of the great philosophers of this world like Aristotle, Socrates and Plato) is that many people immediately equate it to the nearly always evil aspect of it called partisan politics! This is obviously a very unfortunate thing. It is, because, as a result of this, many honest and very talented people in this regard, then stay away from it. The result of that is that the most evil, inadequate and the very wrong people for this purpose eventually will be the ones left to embrace it; and to ruin the very wonderful thing that politics itself is. However, the truth of the matter is that, properly speaking, politics is the science and the art of interpersonal and intergroup relationships and interactions that allow the person or the group to be able to influence or indeed, to capture (political, i.e., the group’s corporate) power; in order to use it for the pursuit of the greatest good for the greatest number of the people (i.e., the polity), evenly! So indeed, the purpose of politics is the common good, of the greatest number of the polity, evenly. Is this what politics in Nigeria is? Has it been the nature of our politics? Has it been so in the present era of 97 per cent and 5 per cent to the various parts of our most dear country of Nigeria, according to the perceptions of our current leaders; or even earlier? The result of those is what socio-political injustice is! And can any country, any society make ANY progress, grow in love, in charity and happiness like that?
Thus, looking at politics as properly as it should be, it is obvious that it is an utmost virtue, a duty, for anybody created in the image and likeness of God – especially those who become adults and receive a sizeable level of education at all. To my mind, this level of education should be at lease what we used to call high school or senior secondary school of old (but not the present mostly half-baked SSCE certification. At the present time this must become OND and equivalents. At that level, they would have been able to learn what in this tertiary education is referred to as GES or general studies – including some levels of philosophy, as Aristotle and their colleagues had suggested. This will let them begin to understand the concept of the common good, without which politics will remain an evil pursuit.
Much as politics is both a virtue and a duty for any normal and fairly educated person, partisan politics, the type they play in Nigeria all of the time, is obviously an evil enterprise. It is, precisely because it is about scheming how to capture power in order to use it for your own personal or group selves; and as much as possible, to undermine, if not completely eliminate, anybody else; especially those of the “opposition party”. This latter “opposition party” eventually will include anybody who tells you the truth or points out what is not good or proper in whatever you are doing! These later will unfortunately include all of us, even those who have no interest in partisan or elective politics! How sad, how miserable for the entire people, the polity! In doing partisan politics, such “politicians” (false politicians, that is) never see any good in whatever anybody in the polity is doing except it is what his party wants or approves. Otherwise, they feel a duty to pull it down and destroy it – including the persons that say or do it – even when this is in the greatest interest of the common good of the greatest number of the polity that is the real politics. They fail to be bipartisan or multi-partisan – the only way to continue to be a good politician in the face and levels when partisan politics becomes inevitable – voting and speaking for what is best, even if it comes from another party than your original one at any given time!
It is for this purpose that partisan politics is to be avoided as far as possible, and independent candidature guaranteed at every level of any would be sensible national governance. Thus in such countries, politics at the local government level must be on an independent candidature basis; and anybody with any provable partisan affiliation is automatically disqualified from contesting at it. This is so because, the size of the polity and the constituency of each candidate is so small that if the candidate is anybody of any worth whatsoever for the purposes of pursuing the common good of all the people in that constituency or polity, it would very easily have been known to the people or most easily verifiable. However, at the higher – regional, provincial, state or national – levels, the polities and constituencies would become so large that the formation and belonging to political parties may become necessary for some people. However, this will not necessarily be so for independent candidates who had begun properly from the local government, done well there; and then up to the regional and national levels. Can Nigeria do this, will Nigeria do this, and will our citizens press for and work for this way to good and proper politics for the country? Well, whether they will do so or not, it is important that people like us say so as well as remind everybody that this is our common duty to pursue.
The last two things that it remains for us to say is to remind us all that every adult educated person must be involved in politics and its discussions and advancements without having to belong to professional, elective or partisan politics. We need to do so, because it amounts to putting the talents that God (or if you prefer, nature) has endowed us with. Obviously, those who refuse to do so, will amount to those hiding and not using those talents; and wisdom prophesies that such will not smell or see, to talk less of entering, the kingdom of God at the end of time. That is the spiritual truth of it. At the level of religion, which is group spirituality and culture, it is important to remind our religious leaders that because true politics has become bastardized by evil partisanship, they have a duty to create ministries, apostolates or chaplaincies for the service of those who wish to enter into participatory, elective politics – definitely across all the parties together – so that these people will meet often to discuss good and proper politics and to protect one another irrespective of their partisan political affiliations. Without these, such persons stand the chance of immediate elimination under the present evil politics. This is the reason that most good people so far have avoided it. May God Himself help us to get Nigeria into these paths of true political growth and development. “Amin”!
°Asuzu is Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Ibadan
Culled from: Nigerian Tribune