I start with my strongly held view that no-one loves to be criticized, especially when the criticism is destructive and not constructive.
To a large extent, but not always, critics are self-opinionated people, who may act in good faith in trying to point out inadequacies in literary or political style, in order to push for better performance or to nudge the person being criticized to achieve relative excellence.
It is easy to perceive whether the criticism has been done in good faith or not, through logical, informed, peer review effort. The subtle use of language is discernible as well as cartilaginous disposition, in framing the synthesis of the criticism.
When there is evidence of superior argumentation, with a tinge of didactic reasoning, then the criticism assumes an intellectual category.
The criticism can then face a riposte of a more robust nature, in order to dislodge the original criticism.
In the Academia, this is how knowledge is polished and improved. For example, Aristotle marshaled out his political ideals, in his new science of politics. In an enlightened self-criticism, he dealt with political realities, which assisted him to grapple with political actualities that led him to formulate democratic and oligarchic principles as well as political and ethical constitutions for the best practicable state.
As we can see, criticism and self-criticism assist intellectual growth.
However,to be critical in order to denigrate a leader, a man or woman could be vexatious.
An uninformed, clap trap criticism hurts the critic more than the victim. Political theory is rife with forms and styles of statecraft and which way to go, becomes the concern of all citizens.
Knowledge of statecraft is a cardinal requirement of transformation. Knowledge, according to Plotinus, has three degrees, opinion, science, illumination. The instrument of the first is sense, of the second dialectics and of the third intuition. Political man has been operating at the level of opinion/sense, since scientists and intuitive people have little time for politics, which they perceive as a thankless task, fraught with minor and major annoyances, name-calling and denigrations.
Cartesian attitude to criticism could lead to anger, which could complicate political dialogue and create political tension in a nation.
Calling on God as a witness should be predicated upon the truth of the matter and the truth in the matter.
It is copiously provided for in the law of libel that, whoever feels aggrieved by unfair denigration of his character through criticism, which the critic publishes to cast aspersion on his character and good name can seek redress in a court of law.
However, the law insists that the person, who sues for libel must indeed have a good name worth protecting.
The law of libel moves to protect people with proven integrity. So, only those on the side of truth can be protected by the law of libel. This law, like equity, only welcomes people with clean hands.
In Nigeria, those, who engage in “Agbata-eke” politics, the politics of “onye ube ruru ya rarama”, “ndi omenauko”,” ndi otuturu ota” politicians, “ndi na azu ahia na egwo egwo”,” ndi ahia attack”, “ndi apari”, ” ndi ogbu mma” “ndi oteka omebe”, will not be protected by the law of libel. After all, ” Omengbe oji ka onyeosi mma”.
Of course, people in public office must be criticized, but in a tactical and constructive manner. It is important to audaciously point out errors of judgment by political leaders, in order to prevent the error from festering into a national burden.
During military rule, only courageous citizens like the late Gani Fawehinmi (SAN) and a few others mustered the courage to criticize the hard attitudes of military autocrats, who because they were used to shouting or belching out military orders to their officers, took the habit to civilian administration, thereby instilling fear in the people.
The best democratic culture is the freedom to speak out against what one perceives is a wrong-headed policy, which if not addressed could become a burden for the nation in future, long after the leader, who inaugurated the wrong policy has left office.
A feminist critique of Freud’s theory has remained very illuminating and telling. A critique is a well-crafted expose of the latent inadequacies of political or literary thought. To criticize constructively is to energize the thought process.
It is a didactic process because other citizens in the polity do benefit by the information in the critique, so that they too, will not make the same mistakes, after all, the good Lord did not distribute the gift of intelligence equally to everyone.
We know that those who engage in rocket science and those, who cannot understand differential calculus, stand on a footing of manifests inequality. Robust, but fair criticism is intellect at work.
Next time someone criticizes you, please sit down and write a riposte, not lamentations.
Sergei Tumanov, an editor of a magazine in the Soviet Union told me how government agents tried to influence and bribe him not to publish the articles of critics of the socialist system. Since he could not refuse, he gathered the articles and later published them for the whole world to see. Nowadays, no government can influence editors too much. The social media is alive.
Jonathan said lately that strong institutions, not personalities will build Nigeria. Well, it is strong personalities that build strong institutions that build a state.
Right now, I am writing a fair critique of Dr. Tunji Braithwaite’s epic work entitled, “The Jurisprudence of the Living Oracle.” This monumental work flows from an intuitive mind that has long been nurtured and blessed, as a result of his Christian devotion to God and Man.
I had acquainted myself with this work, from the archives of Papadine University, in my quest for illumination, years ago. The light of God shines on the seeker for Truth and holiness.
The NAP Leader and I have been political and patriotic compatriots since 1982. His advocacy for popular revolution has not gained acceleration in the evinced direction, but this literary legacy will be a positive contribution to knowledge about things known and things yet to be apprehended. Those who manifest in personam Christi will “eat of the fruit in the paradise of God”.
Do many Nigerians read? Only a small fraction do, otherwise, given the intellectual and didactic editorials in The Guardian newspaper and other Nigeria media and the writings of articulate Nigerians, the poor standard of our political discourse would have improved inexorably.
I once had this discussion with Dr Stanley Macebuh. He took it as a compliment. I adopted a Shakespearian attitude by saying that “The attempt and not the deed confounds us”
Long live the informed critic!