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Politics & Govt





By: Chris Onyishi  
 Published February 6th, 2012

It is only when very primitive and less intelligent people occupy power positions that governance is shrouded in secrecy so that the populace will not have knowledge of their cruelty and absurdity. That is why the government has refused to show what computation gave rise to what they call “oil subsidy”.

I had noted in the past that the unfortunate thing is that Plato’s theory of an ideal state which was akin to a cone has become inverted by the present day democracy where the seat of power has become populated with the worst brains in the land.  And the producers or proletariats have become the best brains.   You see a situation where less intelligent people now occupy power positions where they take all forms of obnoxious decisions and make all manner of stupendous policies for the larger society. Their understanding of leadership does not go beyond the number of houses they own in cities and abroad, the number of cars they own, training their children abroad after their activities have led to the collapse of the educational system in their own nation state and flying abroad for medical treatment because they have destroyed the health care services in their own land. They also go to the extent of flying home in helicopters because the roads are bad and they also feel insecure.

Politics is defined in the Wikipedia as “…a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. … the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the corporate, academic, and religious segments of society. It consists of "social relations involving authority or power and refers to the regulation of public affairs within a political unit, and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy

Government is ( Wikipedia)  “… the means by which state policy is enforced, as well as the mechanism for determining the policy of the state”.  Encapsulated in this definition is the notion that political institutions are erected to be used to implement the state policies. There are various forms of government from authoritarian, anarchism, constitutional monarchy, constitutional republic, democracy, dictatorship, emirate, monarchy, oligarchy, plutocracy, etc thru to theocracy, totalitarian, and meritocracy.

A Nation State of which Nigeria is one, on the other hand, is a geographically delineated space – internationally recognized – with people living together on a continuous basis and who are amenable to one economy with common other social systems including education, transportation, etc.  A State should be able to protect her citizens using the instrumentality of organized armed forces for territorial protection and the police system for civil order within the integral components of the state. 

Various governments may have passed through in the history of a State but the State remains except in cases of secession by a part of the entity. A State should have a constant view of how it relates to other States but it would normally have changing policies, as governments come and go, on how best to share the common wealth of the State for the benefit of the citizenry in view of prevailing socio-economic situations in the land.

There is nothing in the ancient and modern governments that suggests that it is a mystery or it should be conducted in secrecy except when relating to another Nation State that has opposing interest or ideology in which case a war situation or a near war situation is prevalent. In other climes, governance has been made as transparent as the air, at least from the point of view of an ordinary man.

But in USA, because of the operations of the CIA, there is usually a provision in their annual budget meant to be used for espionage and all sorts of things by virtue of America’s unique position in world affairs.  This budgetary allocation is what has been warped in our clime and called ‘security vote’ through which senseless and callous presidents and governors, and recently local government chairmen, siphon our collective wealth without accountability.  

American version of ‘security vote’ has a limited accountability but not none accountability totally. Select congressmen, who are on secrecy oat, are privy to the running of the security vote and, even at that, it is not left in the hands of the executives but with the agencies that are directly involved with the security operations around the world and not even within their nation except in situation where acts of terrorism are suspected within their nation.  It is then clear that all notions about security are not war against the American citizens but against eternal aggression.

Whereas America and the other civilized nations use their ‘security votes’ – understandably – to combat ideological challenges outside of their territories, Nigeria and most African nations hardly have any need for this evil conduit called ‘security vote’.  Rather, our presidents and governors use these funds to protect themselves and their immediate families while they stand in unity in dishing out draconic policies against the populace. Here you see a president’s wife fly out at the slightest headache for medical treatment while her husband president deludes the nation on his achievements in the health care delivery.

It is necessary that Owelle Rochas Succeeds in Imo State so that it will become clear to all and sundry that governance must not be conducted in secrecy for it to favor the citizenry. If Owelle Rochas fails in Imo state, it will be a great setback for Nigeria’s democracy.  He is one of the few governors in Nigeria who has denounced partially the evil called “security vote”.  But what our rulers fail to understand is that internal security is a function of the openness of government to the local people. Internal security cannot be achieved by spending any amount of money.  It can only be achieved when people in government begin to enunciate programs and policies that will alleviate the sufferings of the citizenry. It can only be achieved when people see the amount of sacrifice their leaders, and not rulers, take for their good.

Probably the greatest puzzle of all time is that one cannot effectively determine the form of government in Nigeria even though it is touted to be democracy.  In one hand it looks like a plutocracy which is a form of government composed by the wealthy class. On the other hand it wears the garment of dictatorship owing to the manner in which presidents unilaterally decide what happens and how power is concentrated on the executives at every level of government.  At some other times you have the impression of anarchy when the hope of the common man, the judiciary, becomes the highest bidder’s affair.  In one other breathe it looks like oligarchy which is typical of small group of people who share common interest.

The other pitiable circumstance is the lack of what Plato and co regarded as “GUARDIANS”; those who are extraordinarily intelligent, virtuous, and brave amongst the leadership of Nigerian nation. Plato, in one of his famous works had divided the occupants of an ideal society or a utopian state into three categories thus:  Guardians, Auxiliaries and Producers.  Plato had further revealed that there should be a defined relationship between these groups but from the revelations in the Farouk Lawan led ad hoc committee investigating the activities of the downstream oil sector, we see that even establishments within the executive arm of the government are by no means coordinated in the performance of their duties and you see a situation where it has become a mirage to ascertain the number of liters of petrol consumed by Nigerians on daily basis. The CBN has a different figure just as the Finance Ministry, the PPPRA, DPR, the NNPC, et al.

I am not a student of political science – or any of the social sciences for that matter –however, I am always intoxicated in the discussion on the issues of a virile modern Nation State and what should be the minimum standard of living that would justify the existence a modern State as opposed to anarchy.  When people make comments and bring in States such as USA or Britain, what they are doing usually is to point to what should be the minimum acceptable order in their own enclave.

A cursory look at other great Nations such as USA, Britain, Russia, China, Japan, Germany, Korea, etc reveals one thing. These great States have always evolved after a struggle with a terrific anti social and anti human situations.  The founding fathers of such States have shown tremendous patriotism and sacrifice  and  have always enunciated a creed which when they recite gives their children some insight into the conditions that had made the emergence of their State necessary and what they would never allow to obtain in the new order.

 The USA as is known today emerged as a result of various struggles from the declaration of independence in 1776 to the bloody wars between 1861 and 1865. It was actually the victory of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and his call for abolition of slavery that redefined and sustained the current United States of America.  Since then, the war has been between America and other nations. But in our case, the war has been between rulers and the citizenry from our independence.

It should be emphasized that for a nation to move forward, it must have leadership whose idea of a Nation State should go beyond the number of cars they have, the number of houses they have acquired both locally and internationally, amount of dollars and naira in their foreign and local bank accounts.  They should not be religious bigots who use religion to hold down their people.

They should be leaders – according to Plato – who are extraordinarily intelligent, virtuous and brave.  They should be creative social craftsmen and women – such as Abraham Lincoln, Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, etc – who understood that when their nation becomes properly built, they will not look inferior to other peoples of other lands. There will be no need to stash their country’s resources to other land. They will not have to run to other land for medical treatment and they will not have to send their kids for simple education abroad because all those facilities would also be present in their own land. Their kids won’t feel inferior when they stand side by side the kids of other civilized and developed nations.

There was no nation that was dropped from heaven readymade.  It has been great leaders, and not myopic and senseless rulers, who turned empty wilderness into developed nations by sheer creativity and proclivity for greatness.


Chris Onyishi(

Enugu – Nigeria.

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