Re- Walter Carrington on Nigeria’s Underperformance: The Haphazard Politics Should Be Discarded

Oct. 27, 2013

The Haphazard Politics Should Be Discarded

by Darlington Ehondor; responded on Vanguard

Walter Carrington asks a question he fails, or refuses, to answer: “Why is Africa’s most endowed country, which earns $57 billion dollars a year in oil revenues not yet able to solve its persistent problems of electric power and infrastructure?” His apparent hesitation, or aversion, while understandable because of his need to avoid offending high-echelon political sensibilities, reflects the familiar attitude of friends of the political system who paint Nigeria’s future in glittering colours but fail to be up-front about the political iniquities hindering that future. But for anyone with a deep revulsion, actually contempt, for the political class’s irresponsible disposition, the answer to Carrington’s question would be: the political leadership is drained of the altruistic temperament that is the propelling force for productive political leadership. The hideous political leadership is, simply, the reason “Nigeria has been too long an underperformer on the world stage.”

Actually, it’s not that simple. It’s a lot more complicated. The political class’s mindset – driven by avaricious appetites that imagine self-aggrandizement continuously – elevates self-interest over and above the supremely more important imperative of the collective interest. Politics is perceived not with any sense of altruistic service but largely with self-fulfilment ambitions, which is why electoral successes and political appointments are celebrated with such elaborate funfair. Leadership lacks both a philosophy and an intellect. Because the preeminent motivation for “leadership” ambitions gives little, or no, consideration to intellectual analysis of social trends, politics is famished of any identifiable philosophy. A politician doesn’t necessarily need to be a philosopher to have a disposition to philosophy. But without a philosophy, politics is haphazard. An identifiable philosophy – a set of definable ideas and principles for orderly social organization – is the beginning of productive politics. Politicians and their parties are guided by such general principles of ideological persuasion. The U.S. Republican Party and the British Conservative Party profess deeply conservative ideas and have retained those beliefs for centuries. Similarly, the American Democrats and the British Liberal-Democratic Party proclaim liberal socialist beliefs that voters identify them with, and identify with, in deciding their electoral choices.

In Nigeria, however, the iniquitous disconnection from any philosophical or ideological leaning leaves politics languishing in the wilderness of haphazardness. Politicians mount campaign podiums making abstract, mostly dishonest, promises for societal development, even “transformation,” without the philosophical or ideological persuasion critical for their fulfilment. Despite its orgasmic excitement about itself as the “People’s Democratic Party,” the PDP is bone-dry drained of any philosophy, beyond its ludicrous exaggeration of its “Transformation Agenda.” Never mind its name, the All Progressives Congress has never clearly articulated its understanding of progressivism. Actually, it has none of it, beyond its raucous excitations about being “a party of progressives.” So the general political mentality deviates from the normal complexion of altruistic politics, the defining character of Western political leadership. Unless haphazard politics is discarded, Carrington’s rhetorical invitation to “turn Nigeria around” is just wishful thinking.

Darlington Ehondor of Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos, Nigeria