Nigeria and its myriad of problems are placed at the doorsteps of our political leaders. We hold that if the king in Abuja and his courtiers are upright then the general populace would fall in line and live happily ever after. This is a wrong notion. Our problem is more of a dearth of philosophical thinkers than political tinkering. Other advanced societies made progress because of their philosopher thinkers than because of their leaders. The John Lockes, Descarles are examples.
Should philosophers then be king? Not necessarily. History has given an emphatic answer also. Philosophers have however influenced kings from time immemorial. So what Africa needs are the philosophers who would influence our kings and princes. These philosophers were employed as tutors to princes in the courts. Later they move into the larger society and influence more people with the advent of the printing press. This brought about revolutions; not just political but of the mind, thoughts and attitudes.
These changes were more lasting and more entrenched in the minds and psyche of the populace than a strong man or king imposing codes of conduct on his people.
This is what Nigeria needs most. Thinkers, who will teach, influence and nurture the coming kings and the larger population. A lack of this foundation for our kings has left us with kings who only know how to spend money. Money is thrown at every problem, no intellectual,philosophical basis for their actions. In short, society has no philosophical basis. Things are copied from abroad without their heart in it so it is half done. Nothing original has come out of Nigeria in a long time because we lack thinkers.
Philosopher fixers should also impact the larger society making it easier for our kings to affect society positively as progressive ideas become the mainstream. I am advocating both the bottom up and top down dispersal of thoughts and ideas. In conclusion, Nigeria needs thought leaders more than we need political leaders .
However pertinent to ask’ – Would society accept this premise? Would parents send their wards to a school that nurtures thinking over grades .I submit that parents would choose their wards guaranteed higher grades over thought ability. It is a matter of – “o ni idea, o o ni owo”. Show me your money not your ideas. The society is not ready for philosophers if it is not going to elevate them materially.
Sorting out the leading question to this article, is now of looming urgency. The day of sovereign conference is closing in and out of the conference might come a constitution with no philosophical premise. Are we copying another land’s constitution or are we looking at our own history and fashion out a relevant document that would stand the test of time. Also the new dispensation of change for now has no philosophical dispensation other than to change the actors, the script seems to be the same.
Written By Dr. A. Jaiyesimi