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Honour, politics mutually exclusive?

By Kunle Oyatomi
All over the world, politicians are notorious for making promises they hardly fulfil. That is pretty disappointing, but public perception is that the average politician tells a little lie here  and there to impress and persuade temporarily.

However in civilized democracies the politicians themselves know that after a point, such tricks wont work. At the point where honour conflicts with political pranks, the politician knows the game is over. He either resigns or will quietly drop out from further elective contest.

That is the honourable thing to do – in civilized societies.
But in Nigeria, honour has no place in politics. Increasingly, the politician of this new democracy are daily creating the impression that politics is a dishonourable game. At least this is the only logical conclusion any reasonable person would draw from the spate of “carpet crossing” from opposition political parties to the ruling party.

Although the constitution is silent on the issue, it is impossible to imagine that those who put together that document intended that the  dishonourable and unprincipled act of “carpet crossing” should be part of the political system here. That some politicians have discovered benefits from such act is symptomatic of a psychological as well as intellectual deficiency. The whole episode is disgusting.

It is impossible for a politician of honour and integrity to dump his or her political party except on the grounds of fundamental ideological and policy disagreement.

Even at that, what responsible people in politics do is to resign whatever position his/her party had bestowed on them, and seek a new mandate either as an independent candidate (as was the case in London where the labour party disagreed with its candidate for Mayor, who stood as an independent and defeated the party), or looks elsewhere for accommodation of his views.

We agree, London is not Nigeria, but that mentality makes us hopelessly inferior.
It does not add up for anybody to thrive on dishonour. The only way we can classify those who indulge in such practice as “carpet crossing” is, shameless, unprincipled and unworthy of political office. The constitution does not have to state explicitly that politicians should avoid dishonourable acts.

It is commonsensical; and only those who have disregard for common sense would let themselves be  identified with such uncivilized and patently unreasonable  conduct.

Even if there were real and understandable cause for disagreeing with your political party irreconcilably, the path of honour demands that you relinquish whatever political benefits had been bestowed on you through the platform of the party.

But to dump your party and take along with you its political patronage is robbery – political robbery of the most reprehensible sort.  It does not require a constitutional provision for a sensible politician to know this. The question is, how much reason is there in Nigerian politics anyway? Very little!!

Like every other thing in this country, we are also in a situation of “political melt-down” so serious that it is even now a major cause for other sectoral dissolutions – including economic – which the country suffers from, pre and post the global recession.

The politicians are fooling around again like they did in previous “republics”. They should be called to order before we are all consumed by the disorder which this tomfoolery is most certainly going to result  in, as our past history so tragically depicts. My only fear is that we might not be as lucky as in previous situations where we emerged from it all in one piece. We will be over stretching our luck if we keep that hope  alive.

Politics is not for unserious people who are inspired only by self interest. And until we ourselves get serious enough to understand that we have to have a responsible threshold for political participation, our political space will be dominated by rascals and other psychologically maladjusted people who have no business being in politics in the first instance. To leave government in the hands of such people is national suicide.

It is the more compelling reason for a fundamental review of the present constitution, or what many have been clamouring for; a total rewrite through the instrumentality of a sovereign national conference. We have been on this since the NADECO days, yet we are still far away from a consensus.

Those who think that politics and honour are mutually exclusive need to think again. In politics, you can easily create the profile of a vagabond for yourself, if you discount honour from your disposition.

Perhaps unknown to them, this is the emerging profile the carpet crossers are drawing for themselves. In politics, such people are short distance runners. They can never make the marathon which life’s race is cosmically designed to be.


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