The word Politics is derived from the Greek word Polis which means “City State”. Therefore, politics denotes the affairs of the state. That is, it deals with the state affairs and organization of the society at large for the good and interest of all the members of the state. A good political order secure justice for everyone’s interest as Plato argues, justice is not to the exclusive advantage of any of the state’s factions, but is concerned with the common good of the whole political community, and is to the advantage of everyone. It provides a city with a sense of unity, friendship and common purpose meanwhile injustice in the state causes internal and civil war, hatred, fighting, killing, and all sorts of inhuman calamities. So the fundamental question is that do we have a good political system that promotes justice in our society today? Are we seen that sense of oneness, unity and purpose among us? Every day we are seeing only war, mass killing of minority group, kidnapping, mass protest, massacre of innocent school children, abduction of school girls by insurgency groups, economic meltdown, extra judicial killing by police, political disruption, broad day light shooting, robbery, tribal and partisan political appointment, among many are often beyond comprehension. Yet we claimed to have a just political system meant to maintain peace and promote the quality of life and living standard of the masses. It is obvious that in our present society, the taste and quality of life has permitted an assault upon the verities that previously would have been rejected, if not suppressed on the grounds of blasphemy, scurrility or obscenity. Thus, religion which for generations had been a stately chronicle of the gradual erosion of orthodoxy, suddenly take on the runaway quality of a psychedelic. How can humans created by God for good turn upside down and be capable of such evil? But even more inexplicable and troubling is the fact that many of these atrocities have gone largely unnoticed without due recognition and response either from the heads of states or the public at large. It is a clear evidence of a failed state which turns chaotic, and permitted all kinds power-seeking individuals, motivated by personal gain rather than public good; thus highly corruptible.
The new generation of political leaders proclaim the high consciousness of material ambition and competitive drive for self-appetite that whet their mind to acquire and amass wealth thereby looking for a slightest opportunity and when this opportunity is given in the public services all is to siphon public funds and undermine human and infrastructural development. Our current society therefore now seek pride and status in the accumulation of material goods, by whatever means; a person’s character no longer means much to many in our present society. It is not who you are but what you have that matters these days so our so called politicians seized the power to become rich by sycophancy only for themselves and their immediate families. This of course has created inequality in our current society with a huge gap between the few super-rich and the poor masses. They forget to create job opportunities for the younger generation and improve the quality of life for the common masses by providing the basic infrastructures and social amenities. You can see that when our young people are in school, the conditions under which they study are pitiable. In many of the public schools, most of our required infrastructures for learning are lacking. The students themselves not only lack books and study equipment, but they are also often undernourished and lack basic health care facilities. So they devoid of hope and motivation. They grow up without the opportunities to realize their God-given potentials. We can be sure that among them there are many gifted children who could have turned out to be world class artists and acclaimed scientists etc. But they are dying by instalments due to abject poverty and this is happening in a land so richly endowed by God. Meanwhile the children of these wealthy few have no idea of what is happening with the poor. They go to elite nursery/primary schools and secondary schools, where they pay one thousand dollars or more per annum. They have all the modern educational facilities at their disposal, including computers, internet facilities and video projectors, often they enjoy air-conditioned classrooms in very decent environment. Our so called politicians and their immediate families may hear of the agonies of the poor masses but as they live in the exclusive quarters, adequately secured with high walls and barbed wire and their children in suburban Europe or America, these stories often sound to them like fairy tales. Today meanwhile our young graduates from the universities with excellent results have no job and no hope for new opportunity so they end up in the urban centres in search of menial jobs while a few engaged as house-helps, waiters and shop attendants, but the majority end up on the streets. While thousands roam the streets every day in search of non-existent jobs. Some in their desperation have taken to crime and indulged in robbery, kidnapping, insurgency groups, prostitutions, drugs addicts and thousands of them could be seen hawking along the roads in our major cities and dangerously running after moving vehicles trying to sell some miserable wares; now and again, they get knocked down by the fast moving vehicles and hardly anyone takes notice. There is no social security of any form for poor masses. Neither there is social benefits of any kind for our numerous unemployed youths. Millions of them are living each day not knowing whence the next meal will come.
The educational system in our current society is collapsing or has virtually collapsed. While the children of the few rich and powerful are sent to elite schools and colleges at home and abroad, those of the poor and lowly class are left to roam the streets, with no access to knowledge nor promise of gainful employment. A number of universities are shut down now and again for nearly half of the calendar year. When lecturers are on strike for poor pay and unbearable conditions of service, the students will go on rampage to protest the shortage of water or electricity on the campus, or after violent activities of secret cult members the university will shut down. Consequently many of our nowadays youth are ready to do anything to stay alive. They reason that life is better than death, even miserable life, they think so.
Looking at this consequentialism of the aforementioned we can say that morality has gone down in politics such that no more human and moral conscience to know that politics is a call for public service that seek justice and not for self-aggrandizement. Political freedom is abused because it loses its true value and politicians holds excessive freedom of doing as they likes which leads to anarchy and the rule of law is no more the order of the day meanwhile the general breakdown of the law and order is common. Political leaders often neglect the public service and feed only their stomach. They treat public property and utilities with carelessness, apathy and neglect obviously our roads are death traps. They are now terribly broken with huge trenches dug by erosion; what used to be called potholes on the roads are often both an eyesore and a death-trap. The distressed roads and vehicles take many lives on daily basis. Virtually all public institutions are in the same state of distress as the roads. Hospitals lie fallow and overgrown with weeds due to disuse, this is not because people are no longer sick but it is because there is no money to run the hospitals, to buy drugs and to pay doctors and nurses sufficiently. Thus, even though they have built numerous Teaching Hospitals, Maternity Centre and Rural Clinics, these structures remain white elephants, while people die in their thousands every day of preventable and curable diseases.
The flow of such public utilities as pipe-borne water and electricity, where they are available at all, remains epileptic. Many people in the 21century drink water from contaminated ponds, and sometimes have to travel for miles to get a pond. In the urban areas, people live alongside mountains of refuse dumps, as there is often no adequate provision for their removal. Meanwhile, millions of the unjustly acquired wealth are squandered daily in a life of vanity and debauchery by our political chieftains and economic fraudsters. They build palatial mansions that are often too large for comfort; they drive expensive cars such as V8’s, that they do not really need and too high to maintain; they stack their wardrobes with expensive ornaments that they may never use, they perform religious pilgrimages many times over and they travel to Europe or America for holidays often time. Some purchase church tittles; they throw expensive parties to celebrate their birthdays and in each case they get the poor to amuse them with cultural dances and acrobatic displays. These fake wealthy men and women of our land often surround themselves with sycophants, praise singers and bootlickers in the fashion of primitive feudalism, they often parade their fake wealth before the masses who are weighed down by want and penury. What an injustice! What a wicked society! The poor youths, unemployed with no hope and aspiration have nothing else than to make themselves readily available to be hired for organized political crime and thuggery, sometimes the assassination of the opponents of their wealthy sponsors. Those hired for thuggery and assassination often have no idea what the point of contention is between the warring parties. They are nothing but willing tools in the hands of the wealthy, to be used and dumped. The politicians in our society today are aware of the vulnerability of the poor masses and they exploit their contrived ignorance and misery over and over again for selfish gain. This boil down to moral decadence in politics and the general breakdown of the supremacy of the law thus, it calls for illicit concern at what is happening today because it seems we have no future if at all we have, it is highly bleak so let us all arise. Plato argues that politics needs expert rulers and they cannot come merely by accident, but must be carefully selected and prepared in the course of extensive training. Making political decisions requires good judgment, thus politics needs competence and vision with high sense of moral decorum. Most people, corrupted as they are, for Plato are fundamentally irrational, driven by their appetites, egoistic passions, and informal by false beliefs. Plato believes that once political society is properly ordered, it can contribute to the restoration of morals. A good and just political order, good education and upbringing can produce good nature who are in turn well educated, grow up even better than their predecessors (Plato Republic 424a). Hence, there are in Plato such elements of the idealistic world view as the belief in education and progress, and hope for better future. The quality of human life can be improved if people learn to be rational and understand that their real interest lie in harmonious cooperation with one another, and not in war or partisan strife. The best rational and righteous political order leads to the harmonious unity of the society and allows all the city members to pursue happiness but not at the expense of others. Today we need a political system that is best characterized by four virtues: justice, wisdom, moderation and courage as described in the Republic of Plato.
Justice is the quality or fairness that grant each its due and ensures that each does one’s own work. Wisdom can be understood as the knowledge of the whole, including both self and political prudence; it is the quality of the leadership. Courage is not merely military courage but primarily civil courage, is the ability to preserve the right, law-inspired belief and stand in defense of such values as friendship and freedom on which a good society is founded. Moderation is a sense of the limits that bring peace and happiness to all.
In conclusion, it is never too late to restore morality in our political system so there is urgent need to re-awaken the moral consciousness in every citizen to bring back the nature and original meaning of politics in our present day society that seek justice, peace, selfless service and promotes human development and the quality of life for every member state to pursue happiness and freedom of choice and wants. This is possible if only if we have good political leaders that are not driven by their appetites and egoistic passions but guided by virtues, rationality, wisdom, righteousness, moderation and above all justice to form the best political system that serves the interest of all and bring peace and ignore war, violence, crime, corruption among many.
Plato’s Republic …
George Omaku Ehusani, A Prophetic Church, 2nd edition st Pauline publication, Ibadan, 2003.
Written by: Daniel S. Kamara (Josephite of Murialdo) firstname.lastname@example.org/ 0558075371