Home column - Friday Unethical politics vs politics of service, By Isaac N. Obasi

Unethical politics vs politics of service, By Isaac N. Obasi

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Politics without morality in Nigeria is getting to an intolerable limit. Imagine politicians who spent nearly eight years insulting one another turning around now to have meetings among themselves at home and in foreign land because of their personal interests. Although, it is generally known that politicians can eat back their vomit, but what is not known yet is that they are even ready presently to eat back their faeces without any iota of shame (like a dog) just because of what they will get after the 2023 general elections. This is pure politics of self-centeredness that sees the sharing of political positions as an End in itself rather than as a Means to service.

This statement is not to deny the fact that political position-sharing is important in Nigeria’s heterogeneous society. But it is its unethical and its self-centered nature that constitute a problem. This is because such unethical politics has over the years kept Nigeria down as a dwarf rather than a giant that it is meant to be. Why would politicians and their parties for instance not use or display their intended distribution of social amenities, infrastructural facilities, industries etc across different parts of Nigeria as means of attracting votes rather than using position-sharing which is full of unethical conduct for same vote catching purpose. 

The time has come for Nigerians to insist that political parties should tell them how they intend to develop their particular areas than the usual unethical practice of telling them how the shared political positions will  favour their areas. We know for example that allocated or shared positions do not necessarily translate into developmental projects. This is because politicians settle themselves first through grand corruption thereby leaving little or no resources for developing such different areas of Nigeria in a fair and just manner. The present political dispensation has in addition used nepotism as instrument of governance which in itself completely negates good governance because of lack of justice and equity. This in itself again, is a good example of unethical politics.   

A demonstration of politics without morality which is very annoying is for serving politicians to use tax payers’ money to embark on foreign travels to hold selfish political meetings. This is scandalous as it is insensitive to the plight of the common man in Nigeria. It is also scandalous because of the impunity of wasting scarce public funds in a country where debt service costs presently exceeds revenue. Yet, some of the politicians were among those in the Nigeria Governors’ Forum making outlandish recommendations that can further suffocate the poor masses without making any corresponding recommendations that will adversely affect their economic interests.  

Most of our unethical politicians operated perfectly well like what the Editor’s Desk of Trade Briefs calls a ‘moral grandstander’. A moral grandstander refers to “the use and abuse of moral talk to seek status, to promote oneself, or to boost your own brand”. What is more, such individual “frequently uses public discussion of morality and politics to impress others with their moral qualities.” Admirers of some of these politicians would assume that they are men of true conviction of their views not knowing that it is all about political opportunism. Nigerians must by now be tired of political opportunism which is all about self-centeredness. 

The idea of politics of sharing positions and nothing else, rather than service to the people, has kept Nigeria under-developed over the years. It is this politics of sharing that breeds unbridled corruption. And a self-centered type of politics is very unethical in the sense that service to the people (a hallmark of good governance) is relegated to the background. Nigerians are tired of politics which promotes this culture as well as the politicians who do not see anything wrong with it. Imagine a political party (through its government) that promised to deliver a reconstructed Lagos-Ibadan expressway over seven years ago, and yet as we write the same government is still struggling with the road project with all the money accruing to this country in the last seven years. This raises the question of how many years it took to build the same road in the 1970s. The political party shared posts and their supporters were happy then, but as we write now, the same supporters in Lagos for instance are still groaning in agony with the extreme poor condition of the same road. This is a clear case of politics of position-sharing rather than of service. 

There was a time one individual was given three ministerial positions in the same government and supporters were perhaps rejoicing at such. But what is the gain in terms of the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway or the Lagos-Badagry expressway? There is no satisfactory explanation why the government has not been able to complete these projects and all the others like the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressway, Abuja-Lokoja-Okene-Benin highway, Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, among many others since its two terms duration.  

Nigerians should demand from political parties a manifesto which is clearly driven by an ideology of service reflecting equitable development of all parts of Nigeria. This ideology of service that promotes equitable development of all geo-political areas would promote national unity and move Nigeria forward faster rather than the present ideology of position-sharing which benefits mainly politicians themselves. Nigerians have equal share in this country and we should say ENOUGH is ENOUGH to present unethical politics of position-sharing which benefits mainly politicians. This is what Nigerians have painfully experienced in the last seven years and majority of them are worst for it.    

•Prof. Obasi can be reached via [email protected].

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