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Reason and Republican equation matter


President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

In modern liberal democracies one constant and irreducible moral minimum is the supervening locutions of “reason” and republican equation in the recrudescence of power, governance and policy making. This is seen in the rise and fall of empires, monarchies and democracies alike, which is more often caused by the between the governed and the governors. President Muhammadu Buhari affirmed this liberal and republican ethos when he said, on the heel of his overwhelming election in 2015 that, “I belong to nobody and I belong to all.” This was a message aimed at redeeming the battered hope of the citizenry who desired change and relished the candle of political participation and economic rejuvenation. The light in the tunnel seems to have eclipsed though. Boko Haram religious extremism, Niger Delta insurgency, Biafran agitation, herdsman carnage, kidnapping, robbery, economic recession, hunger in the land, oil prices volatility of foreign exchange rate, budget deficit, foreign reserve depletion, unemployment, low productivity and corruption seem to have set the supposedly era of change drifting, confounding all.

In the face of an overwhelming danger to peace and stability of Nigeria, only “reason” and higher republican consciousness embedded in the virtues of sagacity, patriotism, nationalism and neutrality on the part of the president and the governors can forestall imminent collapse of the state. The President must of necessity be a President of Nigeria, standing on a high moral ground above mediocre ethnic and tribal cleavages to answer his call as the shepherd of diverse people, religions and cultures of Nigeria. His victory at the polls last year is both a cultural and political mandate. It is from this anthropological fulcrum that Mr. President can marshal a synergy among interconnected nationalities and problems besieging his mandate. What Mr. President urgently needs now is therefore, a clear and predictable definition and articulation of these problems.

The background of these threats to the Nigerian state is corruption which is caused by “unreason”, political manipulation, religious bigotry, ethnicism, tribalism, militancy, extremism and marginalisation. Corruption herein defined is an omnibus concept, systemic in nature and transcends financial profligacy to even how the leaders make their choices with regard to whether such diminishes or strengthens institutions and promotes the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. The presupposition here is that the leaders, and not only the president, must be above board morally to be able to embark on any meaningful crusade against systemic corruption which sustains financial unaccountability. He who goes to equity goes with clean hands; he who fights corruption of any kind must be morally, politically and spiritually corruption free. Only then can he be fair and free to all including the Igbo, the Ijaws, the Idoma, the Yoruba, the Hausa, the Fulanis, the Edo, the Efik and so on. Otherwise, the leader is an ethnic or tribal leader imposing himself on those tribes. Nigerian national identity is cultural amity of all the ethnic nationalities without which there will be no Nigeria; this cultural amalgam is supposed to be sacrosanct and deserves the honour and respect of any leader in Nigeria without which corruption cannot be meaningfully fought. This is the essence of the Republican Constitution.

A good definition of corruption would help lay a solid foundation for Nigerian nation-building. The nomenclature popularly referred to as “restructuring” or “true federalism” is simply an advocacy for a redefinition of Nigeria. This unfortunately is a result of bad leadership. It is therefore far from being accidental the entrance of “negotiability” of the nation-state, “restructuring”, “true federalism”, “constitutional review”, “national conference” “fiscal federalism” and so on into Nigeria’s political language. Certainly, a political and cultural redemption will give birth to a new order.

The role of reason in cultural and political engineering is the rationality behind the classical domino of “government of the people by the people and for the people”, the “social contract” and above all the Hegelian absolute spirit represented by the state, the sovereign who by the consent of the people is under obligation to provide the common good within and not without republican equation.

If the common good of Nigerian citizens is put as priority of the governments, would “restructuring” and “true federalism” sublimate in national discourse? The constant sommersaults and hiccups in many states in the world, but especially in Nigeria is evidence that ours is not a common cultural heritage, that the modus-operandi of providing common good differ from people to people and above all, that “reason” is yet to be appropriated as the arbiter in the conflict of opposites in human affairs and history.

That is why, in spite of liberal democratic capitalism’s claim to superior knowledge in governance, politics and economics, there still exist monarchies, theocracies, dictatorship, communism, socialism and many variations of all the above.

The underlining fact here is that the principle of “government of the people by the people and for the people” is no long feasible in the modern world and should be replaced by the “government of the people, by reason and for the people”. It is hoped by this equation the interjection or mediation of reason would approximate the Hegelian absolute spirit (the state as God), kantan categorical imperative (means justify the end) and Plato’s ideal state (guardian, soldiers and artisans) in revealing the philosopher king whose business in leadership is not profit and loss balance sheet, but the provision of common good for free, rational and law-abiding citizens.

The Republican Constitution of 1963 is an affirmation of unity (inclusivity) in diversity which in turn is a function of reason in a multi-cultural and multi-religious liberal democracy. Except the Executive President is a dictator, he or she along with the lawmakers and the members of the bench are collectively guilty of failure of wisdom in a failed state project. The separation of power enunciates this collective responsibility. Yet as a philosopher, the president or the prime-minister is in custody of the vision of the state and we calibrates the other two arms of the sovereign into conformity with the directive principle of state policy.

The president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must therefore see himself as the philosopher king who constantly grapples with the rigour of balancing of powers in the true federal spirit of accommodation, bipartisanship, secularism, mult-religionism, multi-culturalism and provision of common good. He should be a philosopher king rises above ethnic sentiments, religious bigotry and party loyalty. In him is the Igbo, the Yoruba, the Edo, the Efik and so on as a true expression of Nigerian personality, a philosopher king who pursues the common good of free, rational and law-abiding citizens.

Dukor is a professor of philosophy at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka and President/Editor-in-Chief of Essence Library

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