Men must have somewhat altered the course of nature; for they were not born wolves, yet they have become Merchantilism, as an ideology which prevailed in the Western World some centuries back, was a parasitic world view characterized by scrambles to short-change other nations through unfair trade deals. Export more, import less and regulate national agriculture, industry and trade with that end in view, that was how to interact with others! The fear was that available resources were limited and therefore must be exploited with cunning and greed for national economy to grow.
Today, the old merchantilist ideology goes by a new name of capitalism. Today, since there are no foreign territories to conquer, colonise and exploit, the current style is internal predatory exploitation in the guise of politics and business deals. In the case of Nigeria, mineral oil provides a ready means of practicing the parasitic ideology. The masses are devalued.
Genuine political leadership goes with a strong ideological orientation. There can be no leadership without an ideology and no ideology without personal conviction, neither can conviction arise without loyalty and commitment. Where there is loyal commitment and duty towards an ideology, there can be no wavering, decampment or defection, patriotism grows.
Does Nigeria, as a nation, have an ideology which serves as a driving force that fires the commitment, conviction and loyalty of the citizens? Hardly can “peace and unity” constitute national ideology because such conditions do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, peace and unity arise from a popular ideology which commands mass loyalty. Apart from “stomach infrastructure” does politics in Nigeria inspire any high value?
The task of nation-building is a serious undertaking which makes politics a sacred calling not meant for people without strong personal conviction. Anyone whose conviction or conscience can be bought or sold for gold or oil block cannot be described as fit for politics, especially in a country striving to build up a stable foundation. The examples of Nelson Mandela and Ken Saro-Wiwa stand out! Can there be leadership which commands mass loyalty, without confidence and integrity? To lead is to inspire confidence, mobilize and bring out the best in followers.
Usually a nation develops and articulates its ideology according to its history and peculiar needs and challenges, around which the collective will and loyalty of the citizens coalesce. It is an idea that goes beyond money, personal benefits or geographical differences. Leaders and all those who participate in politics use that framework as the peg for national up building and sustenance of unity and peaceful coexistence. Parasitism never helps in nation-building!
What should form Nigeria’s political ideology should derive from what is known in philosophy as Reconstructionism. Truly, there are lots of things that need to be put right in the Nigerian nation, which must be a comprehensive project if the task must be successful. Social reconstruction is a comprehensive human and national up building process, not in the line of fake egalitarian or socialist framework.
There are five pillars in the reconstructionist ideology, with the following emphases, namely: Liberation of the minds of citizens from the shackles of those conditions that dehumanize individuals, including indolence and fear-complex. A herd-mentality whereby individuals lack personal conviction exposes them to exploitation by unscrupulous people. Votes can be bought.
There is a need to repair and rebuild the past damages and bruises inflicted on the collective psyche of Nigerians by agencies and forces of tyranny, enabling people to regain their confidence and dignity as human beings. A part of this process would involve grooming police and security agencies to treat the civil population with dignity and respect.
To foster mental and intellectual independence is a part of the reconstructionist ideology whereby adults should be able to reason, think and choose for themselves, rather than be enslaved or be dictated to by anyone. This is why some politicians have referred to the Nigerian masses as cowards.
Reconstructionism should promote and encourage in every individual the ability to work diligently with the hands in productive endeavours, as well as use the heads to make critical and sound judgments. This includes the inculcation of a “do-it-yourself” culture in Nigerians.
The fifth pillar of reconstructionist ideology is the emphasis on social justice and equity whereby no individual or section of the country would suffer any act of injustice, or deal unjustly with impunity. Justice should not be seen to be dispensed with fear or favour. A national reconstructionist ideology, with these five pillars would move Nigeria forward and no leader would loot the nation’s treasury and get away with such wrong.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer at the Rivers State University, PH.