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Of Intellectuals On A Political Adventure

By Terinwa Adesipo
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The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle could not have had his observation more valid or his judgment more accurate and pragmatic when he said that “Man is by nature a political animal”. In the long and chequered history of human’s existence, politics has played a cherishable role in the progress of diverse societies as well as an ignorablerole in the destruction of some other; depending greatly on how the game is played and by who.With the advent of democracy, politics became a concept for all seasons. But what in itself is politics without the people?This is an idea that is absolutely inconceivable not to utterly say unpragmatic. This is because politics is only politics because, the people are not just merely involved, they are major stakeholder, especially in a democratic society. Although the hoi polloi generally are important decision makers in what becomes the prospectsof a society, those who they appoint, select or elect into different positions to lead themare surely acardinal factors in the accomplishmentof their craving. This is the ultimate reasonwhyleadership positions are essential and too important to be left in the hands of just the politicians, the real grounds why the people must cardinally and logically be effectively involved to decide those who wears the crown.

But who are those perfectly fitting for political positions? In sheer reality, an elementary answer cannot do justice to this demanding question, this is purely becausethe journey of politics is not only unendingbut alsobecause there are no perfectconstant pegs for the ever-dynamic and oft-changing hole of same. As I like to believe, those who are fit for a particular political position are only aptly determined by the nature, circumstances and the issuesbothering the political space at that time. Being a successful politicianin apolitical tenure does not suggest same in another. Although experience is quintessential in politics, it cannot totally fill-in for the fundamental requirements that comes with the dynamics of societal needs. Governance changes, people changes, society changes, politics changes, so also are its needs andrequirements. Why it might be that at a particular patchin a nation’s history, the only elixir to their brobdinagian problems might lay in conservative principles and approach;being governed by a radical will do no good to such society.

Maybe by some means, the needs of the societyare a crucial determinant in who is best fit for a political position.Regardless of their solution that there can be no unchangeable characteristics that can perfectly identify who is best fit for a political position, one basic hallmark remains essential and indispensable, a political leaders must necessarily be a visionary and a thinker; someone who is not a sucker for mediocrity and who is sometimes a dissenter from the usual norms or approach.Any leader who therefore is impoverished of this hallowed attributes will inescapably veer the society intoa fatal doldrums.

Realism has validly and unerringly established that the African political stage has been largely flooded by leaders who are indigent of this essential hallmark. In recent times, this set of persons have gloomingly and grimlysteeredthe political fortunes of their countries towards retrogression and degeneration.Of such manifestations are those who are quick to embezzle public funds, descend the economy into the dungeons of destruction via needless borrowing from different local and international financial institutions, indifferent about the plight and predicament of the people, political intimidation and attack on opponents and the unyielding populace, breach of citizen’s fundamental human right coupled with suffering, oppression and subjugation among innumerable others happenings that radiates hopelessness and despondency for theAfrican continent.

Joseph de Maistre, the French Philosopher of the reactionary counter revolutionary schoolonce observed that “Toute nation a le government qu’elle merite” simply meaning “every nation gets the government it deserves”. Why many of his followers have been quick to accept this observation as truistic, the burning question is whether this observationis verifiable of Africa politics?This will necessarilyinclude examining whether these Leaders that swarm the political scene are truly a reflection of the African people?In truth, the nature of the African people with specific regards to their intellectualism and forward thinking ability is nothing requiring of further corroborations or justifications, the factloudly speak for itselves. Apparently, the hoi polloiwho made up the African fabric are neither mental weaklings nor suckers for unprogressive thinking.They are evidently great achievers in various climes of the world. Although despite these mega-accomplishments, their various countries are still wallowing in retrogression while some are gradually slipped into irredeemable deterioration by political jobbers. In all honesty, this bag of guilt cannot be heaped on them. They are a set of peoplewho have been constrained by the dog’s life in their various countries where there are no jobs, no qualitative education, no progress driven policies, nothing to hold on to as hope for a better tomorrow, this reality has pushed them off to diverseforeign land in search of greener and lush pastures.

Although politics and intellectualism are different kettle of fish, any successful political leader mustpossess the former. In recent times, there have been ineptattempts by those who can be consideredintellectuals to shoulder the responsibility of political leadership in Nigeria especially in their desire for the office of the presidency. While this ordinary ought to be commendable,the defect bedeviling these ambitions has thwarted any hope of success.Whilst this set of person profess as one of their basic mantra and manifesto the progress of the country; bandyingaround promises ofeconomic resuscitation, employment creation, educational advancement, poverty palliation among many others which are although commonplace for political promises, there actions have whispersinsincerity and non-commitment to this profession. Whilstthere voyage into the political stage ought toordinarily beam hope of progress for the common man in Nigeria, it sure appears that nothing of such is at sight.Howbeitthe issue of godfatherism remains very much a force to defeat in any African politics, the sterile strategy employed by these intellectuals who are on a mission to save the society and emancipate the land is the real tragedy.

While it is not news to many (if any) as to the poverty of political ideology on the African political scene, it becomes an anti-climax when those who ought to champion its course are in a battle against its existence. For these intellectuals who are on a journey to save the Nigeria people and extendedly the Africa continent from the old school politicians, it becomes highly disappointing when rather than jointly unite to dethrone what is unproductive governance; they are at war against one another. For political pragmatist like me who believed that only a mentally enriched and visionary individual can deliver the country as well as Africa to its promise land, the manifestation of this resolution is not by any way in sight. This realism rather than expresses optimism, for the masses, radiatesin its stead hopelessness. In what is political slapstick, these individuals aredisorganized and disunited against one another while evangelizing their political ambitions under different strengthless and unpromisingpolitical parties. In reality, it sure won’t be long before what they are up against defeats them and their lassitude eclipsestheir good intentions. When those who ought to be progressive and intellectual in their approach to politics employ a strategy that is nothing but dead on arrival,anythingpolitical restitution is still far from realizableon the African continent.

As a reality check, how can a political aspirant succeed in a country with a brobdinagian population like Nigeria just by impotentsocial and media campaigns and “advertisement”. This is nothing but a dead duck for any political ambition in an ambience like Nigeria. Maybe to presume they are ignorant of this, grassrootspolitics is not just essential for such a political ambience like Nigeria, it is fundamental and foundational. Anyone who therefore attempts to solely bank his political evangelizationwholly on technologicalplatforms must either be fantasizing a political successor hoodwinking if not making a mockery of the plight of the people.How can they possibly think they will succeedjust by communicating tothe few rich and the middle class in the cities and urban centers? How can they pragmatically attain thismagnificentgrail merely premised on the usual politicking the Nigeria people are used to. Political triumph just like any other success journeydemands the distinctive mark or coherence and originality. While I need not utterly restate what Einstein has unambiguously said about those who do the same thing continuouslyover and over againwhile expecting a different result, I furthermore think given their exposure, they ought not to be a slave to what they ordinarily ought to lord over.

Although I have strongly rehashed and innumerably expressed that only the Nigerian people can save the country from the manifold doom that currently bedevilsits political and national life via shouldering the responsibility of resistingany form of unproductive governance, although not and never by violence, but by rising against such affront on their progress and promotion.From another similar viewpoint I morally believe that these intellectuals also owe the society the duty of ensuring its greatness. If they are therefore not doing that which is expected of them to realistically achieve this, they are either a façade of what they claim to represent or they are just in the political scene to add insult to the injury of the people.Howbeit, I am no believer in a messiah saving the Nigeria as well as African politics from this these cold hands of retrogression and stagnancy, but I alsobelieve in the concept that whatsoever offers hope for the redemption and restoration of the people should be held on to and taken a crack at. Who knows maybe one day, this hope might transform thisland of the afflictionto the land ofaffection. Evenwith this, the Nigeria people must efficaciously work hard to deliver the country to progress;they must not and never depend on messianicpromises andpersonalities for such. But achievingthis is sure no child’s play, it is something that strongly requires commitment, dedication, determination and the shatter proof spirit to be emerge a conqueror.

Back to basics. It was Enoch Powell, the British politician, who once predicted that “All political lives unless they are cut off in the midstream at a happy junction end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs”.Although I cannot decide for these intellectuals what they choose to make out of their political career,deep observation of current realism reveals an approach that is evidently barren in productivity. Although I evidently lack the jurisdictionto address the merits or otherwise of this political ambitions by this group of persons,I personally believe thatanything worth doing is what doing well.I rest my case.

Terinwa Adesipo is the Scribe, Students Advocates Association, Lagos State University, Nigeria.