Politics, Policy, and Change in Nigeria
Volumes have been written on the subject of politics, policy, and social change. In this section, I will offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and ‘common sense. I will emphasize the important roles of leadership and group cohesiveness to effect change. Because the direction of change in a society depends on the manner in which resources are mobilized by the leader, and the attitude of the people toward change. The ruler must be concerned with the needs of the ruled, and must strive to gain their support. But with long-standing ethnic prejudice in a multi-ethnic society such as Nigeria, this has not been very easy.
The concept of politics is diverse. Aristotle and Plato defined politics as a concern with general issues affecting the whole community. This involves the pursuit of the public interest, the operation of the state, and the formulation and execution of public policy. Contrasting public concern with private matters, they viewed the public concern as morally superior. Thus, political leaders have the responsibility to conform to constructive ideas and actions with "perfect goodness" (Andrain 1975, pp.12-20).
In addition, It is the art or science concerned with winning and holding control over a government. It involves competition between various interest groups (parties) or individuals for power and leadership in a government or other group. The winning party guides or influences policies, and the distribution of resources in that polity (Dike (forthcoming) August 1999). In other words, politics does involve the struggle for power and wealth - that is, the production, distribution, and use of scarce resources. Historically, some leaders have sought the common good and others a private good. But without the ‘politics of virtue’ (that is, doing what is right), a leader may not bring about the necessary changes that would benefit the general public. How does one differentiate actions that are for common from those that are for private? The effects of a particular policy decision are the determining factors.
The process of making and implementing decisions involves cooperation and competition, both of which may lead to social change. As many writers have noted, many factors are involved in social change; no single factor can adequately account for it (Lauer 1982, p. 37). And as a society, our needs can be fulfilled only through the cooperative efforts of everyone. Change or social change is defined as "significant alteration of social structures." And social structures here mean the "patterns of social action and interaction," which include norms, values, and cultural phenomena (Moore 1967, p.3). Others have defined change as "variations or modifications in any aspect of social process, pattern, or form;" it is also "any modification in established patterns of inter-human relationships and standards of conducts" (Fairchild, ed. 1955, p.277, as cited in Lauer 1982, p.4).
As we have seen, change can start anywhere. In fact every system is to some extent altered by changes in any of its parts. Given our leaders’ penchant for corruption, Nigerians are cautiously optimistic about the positive changes that are presently taking place in Nigeria. And since what has been on the minds of the world is that Nigeria is bad, we have to get our act together. After that we can say to the world, ‘You held me in contempt, now look at me. Am I so contemptible?’ (Allport 1979).
Can the present political leadership maintain the tempo of positive social re-engineering going on in the nation? For any intended change to occur in a society the people must be convinced by the leaders that such a change is both possible and desirable. Hence the need for systematic set of ideology that reflects the feasibility and desirability of particular change. Ideology interprets the past, make meaningful the present, and portray an ideal future.
Lack of political ideology is a...
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