Pigs and pearls
HUMAN beings ordinarily possess intrinsic value. Being human is in itself invaluable. Beyond the material wealth and material usefulness of any individual, humanity in itself possesses a value of pristine and profound proportions. Human life is intrinsic. Though a person may improve his value through material wealth and material usefulness via deliberate acquisition and expression of industry, human life possesses a fundamental, irreducible and undeniable value separate from material realities. The worth of any individual person is first and foremost intrinsic.
This critical backdrop of perception of the intrinsic worth of human life is and ought to be the foremost imperative in providing any service, especially leadership, to humanity. In other words, the perception, understanding and acceptance of intrinsic human worth, is an irreducible minimum and a critically fundamental requirement for leadership. This is the philosophy behind the dispensation of model leadership exemplified by the lives and services of the cross section of our world’s most revered leaders. Phenomenal leadership has always been provided on the pedestal of intrinsic human value perception; the fundamental belief that the worth of human life goes beyond the material.
In no sphere of leadership service to humanity is this philosophy and practice more appropriate and critically demanded than in political leadership. Political leadership is the apex of positional leadership. Its import is so germane that the characterisation of the quality of lives of a people is inevitably, intricately and intractably interwoven with the quality of its delivery. The performance of governance is often most critically measured by its reflection on economic profile which has a proportionate effect on quality of life. In fact, leadership resourcefulness plays a more critical role in the overall bearing of economic virility and in the quality of life in any nation than the profile of natural endowments of material resources. Simply put, the quality of leadership and its service delivery in any country bears direct proportionality to the overall standard of the life of the citizenry.
It appears, however, in our part of the world that the requisite intrinsic human value perception for productive leadership is grossly lacking for the most part across board. This critical deficiency incontrovertibly presents the crucible for the explanation and acceptance of the reality of gross leadership deficiency that characterises the Nigerian landscape. Leadership record in Nigeria has an unbroken record of people neglect whilst the ruling class feeds fat on the common patrimony. A substantial chunk, arguably the most substantial chunk, of our country’s richest people are politicians and acolytes of those in power who have never been known for the genius of enterprise neither can a history of any extra-political industry be linked to them. They simply are political capitalists whose sole resourcefulness is crude political power grab and the machination and manipulation of political privilege for primitive acquisitiveness and self-aggrandizement through the shenanigans of incontinent malfeasance and colossal expropriation. Bereft of any value for the lives of those for whom and by whom they’d be given political commission, they indulge in wanton binge and revelry in inordinate appetite for filthy lucre, seeking to satisfy insatiable material ravenousness, oblivious to the debilitating syndrome of selfishness that has irredeemably compromised their souls.
The reflection of the value of the lives of those who are being led to the political leadership who leads them is in the impact of the dispensation of their political service in the quality of the lives of the people they lead. There are essential and fundamental responsibilities of government to the governed which encompass the security and welfare of the people. The situation in our nation where an individual has to become his own municipality just to have access to certain basic living necessities such as power, water, health care, security, sometimes even roads etc., especially against the backdrop that many of these ‘‘individual municipal governments’’ are themselves tax payers, due to government failure while government officials on the bill of tax payers’ monies provide these things for themselves often to a point of wastage, underscores a fundamental flaw in the design of our national reality and operation of our national enterprise.
Meanwhile, those who cannot afford to be their own governments, which, of course, is the vast majority of a deliberately pauperised populace, are left to the mercy of raggedly, ramshackle and grossly inadequate amenities and institutions of government for their health, security and general welfare. In many cases, these institutions unwittingly, not being properly funded, equipped and managed, connive with the unscrupulous government to further deplete the quality of the lives of the people and cut short their expectations and life expectancy. Government institutions and amenities like schools and health care facilities are never good enough for government officials and their families as they appropriate and expend enormous resources to give themselves access to qualitative and premium services in foreign countries while they deny their own people in the country they profess to lead.
This they do without shame and often with much primitive braggadocio. Why? Intrinsic Human Value Perception Deficiency (IHVPD), the inability of a person to place an appropriate value on another person beyond his self-serving need for that person. When the political leadership of any country cannot and do not see the intrinsic value of the lives of the people they lead, people become reduced to mere political commodities who possess only electoral and statistical values that can be manipulated for the political and economic gain of the ruling class. In such reality people simply exist to service the whim of the ruling elite and leadership is simplistically and reductively perceived as the apex position in the food chain.
Until a nation can evolve a leadership class, especially with regard to political leadership, that can perceive the intrinsic value of the lives of the people they lead and reflect this in philosophy and practice and consequently place premium on the lives of the people they lead and on the circumstances that surround these people, the evolution of such a civilisation will be shunted and short changed indefinitely by the deficient perception of human value. No nation neglects its people and thrives.
• Obaje is a philosophical theorist, writer, public speaker and public affairs analyst. Email: email@example.com