Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Rascals in Paradise


Rascals in this perspective does not necessarily mean miscreants or social misfits in the society. The operational application of the word implies anybody, groups, or individuals even a government, whose performances as public servants, fall short of expectations of their followers. 

Rascals in this literary communion refers to those in authority, who have abused their official privileges and pay deaf ears to public outcry and opinions. Rascals here also refer to leaders who reign and exercise brute powers outside the ambient of the rule of law.

The origin of government dates back to the Garden of Eden where God mandated Adam to take dominion of all creatures there in. Although political science literature postulates two main schools of thought about the origin of government. The organic view and the contract, or what Apter in Akpama (2011) calls the mechanistic theories.

The organic view, as popularized by political thinkers like Plato and Aristotle, hold that government, has always been with us because of man’s control. 

According to them, the growth of government merely parallels the growth of society from the family or household unit to a more complex and inter – related entity. Again Thomas Aquinas also employed the organic theory as espoused by Aristotle to show that the state, and government are manifestations of God’s will. In doing so, he established a link between Christian theory and the origins and purposes of government.

The contract or mechanistic theories see the purposes of government differently. According to this theory, the state existed before the establishment of government. The contract theory views government as the willingness of the individual to give up his freedom and independence. Proponents of this school of thought included Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, St. Augustine, Jean Jackques Rosseau and the Famous French philosopher, Immanuel Kant.

Hobbes postulated that man in the state of nature was involved in a war of all against all. In this state, life was solitary, poor, nasty, Brutish and short. Government, in his view was therefore the agency by which man sought self – preservation. The purpose of government or the sovereign authority within the state was to insure each individual against the possibility of death. For this reason the sovereign authority or the government was vested with virtually total powers over the individuals members of the state or society.

In conclusion, the social contract theory was the contract between the state or the people and the government. It had taken many forms from ancient Greece to modern times and it enjoyed its greatest popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Because the human needs and resources in any given society are complex and because the available resources are often limited, there’s need for an instrument of authority that will regulate the springs of the scarce resources. It is therefore the government of a state that determines the immediate needs of the society and determines what immediate action should be taken.

As James Madison commented in Writings in the Federalist papers NO 51, “If men were angels there would be no need for the government”. This implies that if people were not interested in excising political power and controlling the economy of any society, the society should have been free. A situation where everybody want to have more and do anything he desires, emphasizes the need for government.

The government is charged with the functions of law making, defence and security of the state, maintaining peace, law and order, policy formulation, provision of social amenities, external relations management and so forth.

Therefore those elected, appointed or chosen to discharge their functions for the state, should be men of proven integrity. They should be made to understand that they are servants of the state and not masters of the state. They should develop and thick skin to absorb the heat of public offices. Above all, they should know that these functions are the STATUTORY RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE.

Therefore, it is nonsensical to see a state capital, laced with a miasma of bill boards, praising and glorifying the government of the state for performing its official and statutory functions. Construction of roads and other social infrastructure are the exclusive duties of the government and the exclusive rights of the citizens who willingly gave up their freedom and independence and sought for self preservation through the formation of government.

It follows therefore that anymore entrusted with the sovereign authority, should be imbued with the gift of humility and be guided by the supreme spirit of service. He or she should not necessarily be an orator who always look across his shoulders in self gratification. Ascension to public office should not be mistaken for one’s rise to fame, but a call to serve. Public office holders should begin to see themselves as servants of the state and not the masters. They should see their wealth as the common wealth of the people and not their deserved rights.

I ran into a public office holder in Akwa Ibom State recently, who vehemently pronounced that he cannot spend his money (public funds) for anyone who did not vote for him. Like Jimmy Chiff, in his old track “who feels it knows it”, I smiled when I felt like crying. I shaded tears because I know that, that young man does not know the essence and rationale for government. I did not blame him at a long run, because he had no contract with anybody, even among the so – called supporters, because he was anointed by the Godfathers and imposed on the helpless masses. These are the rascals in paradise.

When a man is invited by the powerbrokers, to come and balance some political equation, against the wish of the people. He is imposed in the state through the instrumentality and the guise of political party, he owes nobody, not even God, any explanation and allegiance. He does not understand the language of public opinion because he was not made by the public. He carpets the rule of law and acts the scripts written and directed by the system. This is why real economic and sustainable development is still a far cry. This is why the government think and believe they are doing the state a great favour by performing their statutory and constitutional functions.

Let us revisit the social contract theory and reawaken the philosophy of the collective will against individualism. Let us re-engineer the socio – political fabrics and remake the rationale for governance. Let us redefine governance as service to the people. Let us review and revisit the quality of those we entrust with this sovereign authority.

Elementary government sees the state as an abstract political entity and the government, as a group of people appointed or elected, according to the constitution, to man the activities, and protect the territorial integrity of this abstract geographical entity, called the state.

However, Checks reveal that most of our political leaders intoxicate themselves with the recommendations of Nicollo Machiavelli, an Italian political thinker who existed in the 15th century. Machiavelli made those recommendations in Italy following the decay of 15th century democracy. 

He sought for the strength and strong government of Italy. He existed at a time where Italy lacked political unity and was divided into numerous states and principalities, civil war, and invasion were frequent. He philosophized with the aim that Italy should become a strong nation, Italy at that time was divided into 5 states of Florence, Napple, Venice, Milan and the Papal state or the state of the pope (Vatican). Machiavelli did not make all this recommendation for self-agrandisement or to self-interest, but for the national interest. He went out 23 times as Ambassador of Florence. He wanted to see Italy politically strong like other empires.

But, today, six centuries after, our bread and butter seeking politicians, most of whom knows little or nothing about political theory, read, digest, implement and abuse those 15th century recommendations.

Let us come out of this delusion, let us, through any available legal manner, collect the supreme sovereignty from rascals and give to credible leaders. Else, we shall continue to have rascals in paradise. What do think?

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