By Cosmas M. Emengini
1.0. OPENING REMARKS
The black race is beleaguered today by powers of religion and politics. Many persons see these powers as the shortest routes to affluence and popularity. Most of the upheavals in many African countries are triggered off by these superstructures. Nigerian case is not an exception to this. The case of politics is even more dramatic because it is experiential and has a public undertone. Everybody is interested because the emancipation of any society depends to a large extent on the incisive and wise policies of its leaders. A survey in many first countries of the world shows that their leaders are at home with the demands of the people; they know their games very well. This is because, politics is a game. Why is it not like that in the Nigerian state of affairs despite the presence of many persons who parade themselves as politicians? It shows that something is wrong with some of our approaches to issues. This stems from our mentality. It is from this undertone that I am going to discuss what will brings about a positive change in the Nigerian state of affairs. Here, I will centre on the “Paradigmatic display of statesman/womanship in contradistinction to politician-ship: the last option in the emancipation of the black race”. A paradigm is a typical example of something. A human being is a paradigm of a mammal. Looking at the two key terms: “statesman/woman” and “politician” that form the foundation of this topic; will help us to have a vivid understanding of the matter on ground.
2.0. THE EXPLICATION OF THE TERMS: POLITICIAN AND STATESMAN/STATESWOMAN
A Politician for me is one who is generally a full time political actor, either engaged in the process of competing for political office, translating political theory into praxis, making a living out of politics whether morally or immorally. A flagrant politician is someone who is guided by the Machiavellian principle of the end justifies the means. A statesman/woman in the other hand is a wise, skilful, and respected political leader. He/she is a political leader who promotes the public good or who is recognized for probity, leadership or the qualities necessary to govern a state. A statesman is a political actor that unlike the politician generally stands by principle possibly out of experience, consideration of the general good or raison d’état.
3.0. A STATESMAN/STATESWOMAN VIS-À-VIS A POLITICIAN
A statesman/woman is somebody that is governed by the rule of law. The classical definition of law is the one that is given by St Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae. Aquinas sees law as: rationisordinatioadbonum commune, abeo, qui curamcommunitatishabet, promulgata (an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has the care of the community and promulgated). Thus, two important aspects here are: common good and ordinance of reason. This shows that a statesman/stateswoman is someone who acts reasonably and his/her actions are for the good of the people. This does not mean that his/her actions are going to be accepted by all. C’ est impossible! Rather, it implies that the statesman/woman considers the goodwill of the people first before his/her own personal interest. Something happened in Germany in the early part of this 21st century. The Germans wanted to know the most prominent three people among them in the annals of the history of the world. Many Germans were listed from all walks of life. Each of those listed were examined vis-à-vis his/her contributions to the betterment of humanity and Germans in particular. The most three prominent Germans according to their benchmark were: Konrad Adenauer, Martin Luther and Karl Marx. Do you know that the first in the list was Konrad Adenauer? Why was he called among other Germans? He was a statesman and the first chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany; 1949–63), presiding over its reconstruction after World War II. After the Second War II, the Western Germany was overly shattered and hauled to the mud. However, Adenauer came up as the Chief Minister and did everything humanly possible to reposition and re-instate Germany to its original place. In fact, the glories the Germans enjoy today in all facets of life are thanks to his incisiveness and altruism. As it has been his custom, he went to the market one day and inquired for the price of rice. When he heard it, he called the Minister of Commerce immediately and told him that they would still work harder to make the price of rice more affordable to the common German than what it was. He followed it up to see that it was implemented. Do we have people like this in the Nigerian government in all its sectors?
Nevertheless, what is seen all over this country and in various states are jerry-built politicians who turn public endowments into their personal coffers. Politicians are criticized for being out of touch with the public. There is no gainsaying that some of our politicians do not have any serious occupation or profession they are doing. Their home and abroad is in the people’s collective resources. Looking at the issue of minimum wage- a civil servant is to be paid 30,000 for 30days for working for the country/state and debates are going on. This is just to provide for their basic needs and nothing more! Look at the ugly mess of Enugu-Onitsha Express way. Many lives having been lost in that road yet; we have politicians here and there. Since I came up to the age of reason that road has been bad except the few transformations that were done by the immediate past governor; Mr Peter Obi and the incumbent governor of Anambra State, Dr Willie Obiano.
What I am saying is that what is needed in the Nigerian state of affairs to effect the positive change that is needed to bring out the best in the emancipation of the black race is the mind-set of a statesman/woman than that of a demagogic politician. Statesmen/women uphold some values and concerns which belong to a community and not to a specific individual.
Archbishop Valerian Okeke in his Lenten Pastoral “You and Common Good” says that these are values which contribute to the welfare of the community while at the same time taking care of the needs of the individual. Major General Yohanna Kure in The Philosophy of 33 Successful Nigerians on the issue at hand avows that “The management of our economy could only be better when all minds are set on what we can do to project the image of the country and not that of the individual”. This particular assumption is seen in a statesman/stateswoman per excellence. John Ekei in his Justice in Communalism while connecting these values to common good underscores that “the common good unarguably exists for those who are often outside this class of considerations-family, town, tribe….” This entails that common good is not meant for our kit and kin but for all citizens. It is for this reason that the philosopher saint of Greek descent, Plato in his Republic encourages that “now, therefore, they [statesmen/women] must watch over the land in which they dwell, as their mother and nurse, and defend her against all invaders, and look upon the other citizens as their brothers and children of the same soil.” Richard Lewis Nestleship in his Lectures on “The Republic of Plato” adds that the function of the governing class is to be the Guardians of the state, and that man will guard the state best who most fully believes that the interests of the state are identical with his own. For me, this is the bench mark for measuring who is a mere politician from who is a statesman/stateswoman. Nevertheless, among politicians, shylocks can be found: people who think that they can only make a living being in government and that if they are not in government, that government must not survive.Yet, a statesman/woman knows that nobody is indispensable as Ojukwu says that nobody has the monopoly of political wisdom in his book, Because I am Involved. The servant of God, Julius Nyerere whose cause for beautification is in process now was a statesman. He was the first president of Tanzania when she gained her independence in 1964. He was re-elected for three consecutive times. But, he resigned in 1985 so that another person could contribute his own quota for the betterment of the country. Whatever is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Can any Nigerian politician do this out of common good?
4.0. CONCLUDING REMARKS
Having followed the elucidations so far, it is obvious that many of the political leaders we have in Nigeria are mere politicians. This is why we are where we are now. A politician looks at the quantity of the gain that accrues from politics and not on its quality. In fact, the beauty of “Paradigmatic display of statesman/woman-ship in contradistinction to politician-ship: the last option in the emancipation of the black race” is captured very well by the highly celebrated aphorism of the American Minister and Author, James Freeman Clarke. For him, “the difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman [/stateswoman] thinks about the next generation” For me, Dr.GoodluckEbele Jonathan, despite his political shortcomings is a statesman. In 2015 presidential election, he vowed that no blood of any Nigerian would be wasted because of his own political ambition.
That was the spirit of a statesman manifesting itself. Anyone vying to occupy any political position should always make this his/her watchword. I believe like ObasiIgwe that [Nigerian] society needs more statesmen [and stateswomen] than politicians, for the just and stable development of her people and proud future for the youths.