Denrele Animasaun, London
Every nation has the government it deserves-letter from Russia, 1811
At this time, once thought goes to government and the state. Why? In two days, Nigeria would have rounded another bend in her experiment in democracy. The 29th of May will mark the day when oaths were taken to usher in new governments in the country.
State governments will be marking their day; another will be completed or about to complete a fourth milestone in government. The Edo government will be looking forward to a glorious achievement and hoping for another four years in government. Some others, like Lagos State government, will be counting the meagre three years left. It will be a surprise if Fashola is not already looking forward to a new conquest electoral victory and elsewhere. Just like some of his other colleagues. So time, flies!
From Lagos, to Abeokuta; from Ibadan to Ekiti; from Akwa Ibom to Rivers what are their scorecards? Some of them could record: they were there. Yes, others will make very strong presence in solid achievements.
In a time like this, my thoughts go to some profound sayings: Confuciussaid: in a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
Governments never learn. Only people learn in The Observer, 1980. But do they learn? Otherwise they would ask for project that will benefits them and not ask for pittance from the master’s table.
Thomas Jeffersondefines the objective of good government. He says: the care of human life and happiness and not their destruction, is the first and legitimate object of good government in a speech in Maryland in 1809. Don’t we not make the second the first object of good government?
John Stuart Mill was firm when he said: the worth of a state, in the long run, is the worth of his individuals composing it. In On Liberty he says the worthy individuals make worthy state. We can make even a bad government work. So says William Penn. No system of government was ever ill devised that, under proper men, it wouldn’t work well enough. In his Truth of Solitude, Penn says we all must have the will to make government work. He even says, let the people think they govern and they will be governed.
On the nature of government: various people have various views on them. On society Thomas Paine has this to say: society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one, he says in his Common Sense.
Plato, the philosopher says:
Democracy …. is a charming form of government full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a kind of quality to equals and unequals alike in The Republic. No wonder our ruler lie. Because he says: The rulers of the state are the ones who should have the privilege of lying, either at home or abroad; they may be allowed to lie for the good of the state. Here, they make no exception!
Plato has a reason:
our object in the construction of the state is the greatest happiness of the whole, and not that of one class.
Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few, says George Bernard Shaw in his Man and Superman: Maxims for Revolutionists.
On republican form of government, Herbert Spencer says, it is the highest form of government; but because of this it requires the highest type of human nature -a type nowhere at present existing in his Essays:
The American Jawaharlal Nehru, the Indian politician and Prime Minister says the forces of a capitalist society, (that is the one we practice) if left unchecked, tend to make the rich richer and the poor poorer in his Credo.
Don’t we hear of a man who celebrated his first billion Naira while not lifting a finger?
The sages do warn: Charles Louis de Secondat, he was the noble Baron De Montesquieu. He says: When a government lasts a long while, it deteriorates by insensible degrees in The spirit of the Laws. He follows up: the deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.
Let us score our politicians by how they fared.