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Nigerian politicians and integrity deficit


Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Photo: Reuters

I have this habit of engaging in early morning light debate.

This is in keeping with my admiration for a certain philosopher of ancient Greece who gained reputation for always going to the market square every other morning to engage his admirers in intellectual philosophizing.

In fact, another great Greek philosopher that has won my undying discipleship is the man who often go to the market square in the hot afternoon with a lighted lantern and when confronted by shocked members of the audience will tell them that ‘I am searching for a MAN.” His listeners will wonder why the search for a man in the midst of hundreds of men. 


Socrates, Plato and Aristotle who were the earliest proponents of comprehensively unassailable philosophical themes that influenced the formadatoons and spread of diverse schools of thoughts were reported by historians as also cultivating this sort of habit of early morning philosophical debates similar to what is predominantly done in newspaper selling points in Lagos, Aba, Port Harcourt and manly other media flashpants by persons identified commonly as “free readers’ club”. 

The only distinction between the incoherent chatterings done in free readers’ clubs in Nigeria and what our fathers in philosophy did was that, whereas the Greeks engaged in problems solving debates, the contemporary Nigerian free readers of Newspapers spend valuable times discussing irrelevances such as which of the political parties are better than the rest.

I must say that my early morning debate or philosophizing with a coterie of like -minds, usually centers around critical governance issues and contemporary events that shape our political horizons.

So in that usual tradition of following the footsteps of early philosophers of Ancient Greece, I had this morning engaged in the philosophical reflection on what I have chosen to call the virus of severe integrity deficits amongst the clear majority of persons parading around in the corridors of power in Nigeria as politicians.

My close pals were of the opinion that in political campaigns, pragmatic integrity isn’t necessarily and that what is important is to market the candidate even if he is dressed in ‘borrowed robes’. I beg to disagree. 

This is for the logical read on that integrity deficit has become a menace that may mar the credibility of the coming general elections unless Nigerian voters chose today to identify with only those political office seekers who are worshippers’ in the temple of political and ethical integrity. Will the electorate be wise enough to decipher between propaganda and reality?

I have often wondered in the last three years of the inception of the current administration headed by the erstwhile military ruler Major General Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was), why political actors have increasingly become paranoid and are engaged in the sickening past time of always blaming the immediate past government for all the ills afflicting Nigeria.

It is indeed laughable that from President Buhari to his loquacious ministers, all of them have come to deny the relevance of the essence of accepting that the bulk stops at the table of the man who currently calls the shots as the elected President of Nigeria. Integrity in political leadership means taking ownership of the governance process and delivering the goals which will justify the confidence the voters reposed in you. 

The holder of the office of President of Nigeria is expected to hit the ground running from inception and to implement blue prints for transformational change of the society.

Again, I have observed that on several occasions, these cabinet level officials have been caught saying one thing and ended up doing the direct opposite.

It is a notorious fact that hypocrisy has gradually become an acceptable modus operandi for political office holders in the current political milieu to an extent that the ‘loyal’ supporters who slavishly support every evil policies of the government are behaving like zombies whose thinking faculty is missing.

I begin with the President who made several campaign promises which he has conveniently reneged. The President has failed his first major
credibility and integrity test by playing nepotism in the appointment of security chiefs which are dominated by his kinsmen as against the tenets of the constitution which stipulates federal character but he has chosen Hausa/Fulani character in the place of federal character. 

Speaking about breach of solemn promises, such campaign promises like employment generation, affordable housing, economic transformation, the environmental clean up of the oil rich Niger Delta region and the respect for equality of rights have all disappeared with the winds of phantom change that heralded their arrival in the political stage.

In three years time, the nation’s economy rather than growing went into recession and in the place of employment generation, what we have witnessed is the rapid loss of employment by Nigerians hitherto engaged in both the public and private sector.

Now Nigerian youth are fleeing in their millions and are dying in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of lawless Libya and some are sold into modern day slavery.

The Nigerian citizens who out of fear for their lives due to widespread insecurity and settled in South Africa are today being killed by black South Africans who accused them of taking over their jobs.

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