Immanuel Kant a German philosopher once wrote ÔÇśPolitics says, ÔÇśBe ye wise as serpents'; morality adds, as a limiting condition, ÔÇśand guileless as doves.' If these two injunctions are incompatible in a single command, then politics and morality are really in conflict; but if these two qualities ought always to be united, the thought of contrariety is absurd, and the question as to how the conflict between morals and politics is to be resolved cannot even be posed as a problem'.
In a politicized world dominated by collectivist thinking, men and women become unwilling to question the purposes or actions of political leaders to whom they have given over the direction of their lives; to do so, to my mind would appear to force the kinds of internal inquiries they have long abandoned.
There is a common believe that the politicians' conduct should be judged more strictly than the conduct of ordinary citizens, since they have official public roles. In every situation there is the good, the bad and the ugly. In as much as one is not happy with the spate of embezzlements of public funds perpetuated by political office holders in Nigeria, sometimes their actions whether knowingly or unknowingly, voluntarrily or forcefully can generate a positive vibe.
For instance, it is public knowledge that the Ogbulafor the PDP chairman resigned from his post. I understand this is because he is being investigated for fraud. There may also be other untold reasons but his investigation for fraud is the most prominently held reason known to us non insiders.
I can not remember when someone in Nigeria has resigned because he is being investigated. What we usually hear is that it is for the courts to decide. There has always been this notion that all accussed persons are innocent until proved guilty. Nigerians especially politicians have used this notion and retained their seats for longer than neccessary even when they know within themselves that they are in the wrong.
This is why I think no matter what the outcome of the investigation is; Ogbulafor should be commended for exhibiting some sense of morality. He has set an example for his fellow politicians knowingly or unknowingly. I do not know Ogbulafor in person but it is my belief that if politicians can have some degree of morality in their way of politicking, Nigeria will be a much better place.
I also think that Ogbulafor's action is a challenge to even the legislative houses in terms of the issue of morality in political lives. There have been cases where Appeal courts have declared winners of elections and ordered the legislative houses to act but they kept silent and waited for their own time. WE also know of situations were despite reports incriminating legislators, they have sat tight. This is not good for the country.
The Nigerian political scenery has been so dysfunctional and has also been declining in terms of setting a national political agenda that will influence our growth so far. There is no understanding of what national interest means as most politicians when they talk about national interest actually mean personal interest. Politicians need a code of practice whether written or unwritten if they expect to have respect and trust from the electorate.
Just recently, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in the United Kingdom resigned his appointment because there were allegations about his expenses and his personal life. I guess this is unimaginable in Nigeria. I do not want to compare UK politics to that of Nigeria because we are miles apart. However, since our politicians see UK as their haven for relaxation, or even as second homes as most of them have apartments here, I think they should imbibe a few good ways of life from here. I know and believe we will get there.
Coming back to Ogbulafor's resignation; since his action we have seen that there has been a swelling number of successionist movements evoking a vigorous response from political schemers, many offering their own reflections on the morality of succession. These have ranged from the unconditionally permissive to the highly restrictive. Their new theories have engaged such challenging topics as the nature of transparent democracy, the importance of zoning, the concept of collective rights, and the content of distributive justice.
It is enough that we assume that our politicians are not fully transparent in regard to their true intentions, attitudes and dispositions. There should be a set of moral obligations to support and obey certain political institutions and associated authorities because without the moral argument, the practical arguments don't stand a chance, either. There is, however, a problem with the concept of political accountability, namely that politicians who act improperly are supposedly accountable to the public.
The impact of morality on politics is obvious for many of the issues on the political front burner today in Nigeria, from credible election, one man one vote to regular power supply to the population. But these are just the tip of the iceberg. To understand the broader and more pervasive impact of morality, consider another issue on the front burner: social security reform. There was a Yakubu Gowon committee on social security recently. We have not heard anything about it again.
But as we approach our fiftieth independence, social security can only be made possible if there is growth of collectivist thinking among intellectuals and cultural leaders in the country with the politicians spearheading the campaign. When there is an acceptable level of awareness and the desire for politicians to be morally accountable to the people they beg to serve, we would appreciate the need to take actions that are neccessary and in the best interest of the public.
We all know that politicians have turned themselves into fat cats. Most of us accept institutionally-certified lying, destructiveness, and corruption as an integral part of a "reality" that is beyond our questioning. At the same time, we struggle with unconscious forces that remind us of the contradictions by which we live. In a vain effort to quiet these inner voices, many of us become increasingly obsessed with changing the thinking and behaviour of others.
We should aim to restore to our political leadership a sense of moral principle and responsibility, which in recent years it has patently lost. For our politicians the assumption has been that Nigeria had witnessed sustained moral decline as exemplified by problems of corruption and dishonesty. The situation would only change through state-enforced moral improvement. The way forward is based on mutual interest and mutual respect between politicians and the electorate.
It has been apparent that politicians and other state functionaries are not the least concerned with "moral values," except as they can be used as slogans around which to energize Homo boobus into frenzied campaigns against their oponents. Political systems are interested in one thing only: power ÔÇô in getting it, keeping it, and expanding it. In the words of Will Rogers we have plenty of confidence in this country, but we are a little short of good men to place our Confidence in. I hope more good men will come out.