Friday, July 22, 2022 4:41 pm
By Anthony Kila
There is a prevailing and even popular idea and a call in the country among people of good will that more citizens, especially the teeming youth and the many productive professionals should leave their comfort zone and be ready to get more involved in politics and even participate in running for political offices.
The language of this idea is generally common-sensical and the crux of the message is that if you don’t like those leading the affairs of the country or the way they are doing it then you should do something about it and that something includes joining politicians in a bid to replace them.
On the surface, this prevailing and popular idea seems to be unassailable and many are willing but unable to heed the call to join; most of those not able to heed the call to join tend to be restrained by shackles of finance or fear of violence. Only few citizens can spend money the way politicians tend to do in this republic and even fewer can risk or promise the real or imagined ferocity annexed by politics in our times. That is however on the surface as we were saying, a closer look will show that in reality what we really need is to curtail the influence and even presence of politics in our lives.
Today’s epistle is aimed at proposing the idea of firewalling partisan politics rather than enabling it. Let us pause here to quickly make some clarifications here to avoid genuine misunderstanding and mischievous misconstruing. Am I asking for people not register or not to take part in the voting process? Absolutely not, rather I strongly believe that voting is a civic and even a moral duty that any qualified person should strive to absolve; the debate if any, should be around who should be considered qualified to vote and why are voters voting.
Am I saying politics is not important? Absolutely not, rather, I point out that health and medicine are also important in fact more important than politics but we don’t because of that all rush to become medical doctors, nurses nor do we spend our days following the foibles and whims of medical doctors and nurses. Why then do have to tend to or have to follow and indulge the flaws and caprices politicians? I argue that we do that because politics and politicians have become too central in our lives, it appears to me that we have allowed them to pervade our lives in an intrusive in an oppressive manner.
Just on principle and at an ontological level, there are enough reasons to advocate for the limiting of partisan politics in our lives. When we observe partisan politics in practice firewalling partisan politics becomes a fundamental need for general progress and collective mental sanity.
At a very basic level, more than other things, the two features that define and distinguish human beings are the biogeographic elements of race, ethnicity, gender and physical appearance on one side and religion on the other side. Class is beyond the very basic level.
In most of human endeavours where the trend is to surpass the very basic level of humanity, advancement is measured by the ability to muffle biogeographic differences and talent and skills in arts, science, thoughts, trade and crafts are deployed to create, engage and serve the universal human being regardless of gender, race, ethnicity and religion, all in the pursuit of peace, progress and prosperity in this scenario, partisan politics stands out like a sore thumb. Notwithstanding all the grandstanding of politicians, partisan politics is by name, in practice and even in nature divisive. It is only by dividing the people into those for and those against him or her that a politician can get into power. In Nigeria, failure and fall is abysmal, politicians have not and cannot unite people: they vie for political posts in the name and quota of ethnic and religious divisions and differences and once they get their ticket or position they recklessly and disingenuously justify self-interest and nepotism in the name of merit. A word that should rarely be used in a trade and process wherein the requirement to practice is the lowest of all possible requirements is merit.
There is something mentally, morally and sometimes even physically excruciating in watching or reading trained minds, who on paper can afford to be independent and classifiable as mature people resort to sophistry in a bid to defend the undefendable and justify the absurd all in the name of partisan allegiance, not even ideological affiliation or conviction.
It is equally painful and saddening to watch average citizens turn political discourse to stadium like support based on insults and cheering. Thanks mainly to politics, religion, that by its every essence is expected to be celestial in outlook and universal in outreach because it seeks to touch the soul, albeit to control the flesh, is even losing its celestial outlook and is being forced to wrangle over political positions and representations.
Due to the process of recruitment, progression of personnel and administration of financial and other resources managed by politics, the judiciary, conceived to administer justice and to be the major check on political excesses, has lost its gravitas and defining independence.
Given that in Nigerian political history, it is difficult to find a national political party or personality that has lived up to promises made or expectation fuelled, it is therefore save to conclude that politicians have failed and that the sacrifice of yielding our socio-political supremacy to politics has been a wasted or at least unprofitable sacrifice.
By contrast, most Nigerians are surviving and a few are even thriving within and beyond the country notwithstanding the obstructing presence of government not thanks to it. The rational step to take from such observation is to reclaim our space from partisan politics. We need to start identifying ourselves as free independent citizens that are mainly, students, workers and traders whose time is precious and whose hope is dependent solely on what they know and they can produce. We have to develop the courage to treat politics with its deserved suspicion if not disdain and the ability to firewall our lives and activities against partisan politics that has shown it cannot improve our lot.
Join me if you can @anthonykila to continue these conversations. .
.-Prof Kila is of the Centre Director at CIAPS Lagos. www.ciaps.org.