According to Plato, these men are intemperate and effusive. And in his psychological profile, Aristotle captured them as suffering from an excessive youthful longing for superiority and victory. Men of ‘thumos,’ in their raw will to power and martial spirit are untamed. They love in excess. They hate in excess. And lacking moderation that comes with noble virtue, men of thumos do everything else to excess.
Men of thumos do wrong not out of wickedness, but, of course, out of immature arrogance. It is the thumos in them that prevent them from having feelings for the weaker members of the society. The brute presence of thumos makes them see life only from selfishness, shortened by dog-eat-dog. With their reckless excesses, they singlehandedly sowed the seed of rot, which eventually brought down the Athenian democracy.
But for their habitual wantonness and excess, both Plato and Aristotle ended up in sympathy. Sympathy, of course, they received from every other great thinker. A matter of genuine sickness deserves everyone’s sympathy. But ordinary Athenians despised them. Doing so, because their ordinary eyes lacked the ability to see that beneath these excesses, was a serious illness, an inner disharmony, a psychological fracture that not only destroys moral appetite, but also a feeling of guilt or remorse for their wrongdoings.
This is where so many great thinkers have to come in centuries after, especially in their efforts to try to masticate the very role psychological stresses involved in infancy seem to have played in forming these men’s behavioral extremes. It is this train of thought that is later magnified by Freudians, when they take the simultaneous presence of contradictory impulses in a person to suggest the existence of a whole unconscious mind, a set of desires and beliefs, with whose occupants completely hidden from their own illness. Strongly seeing the world only from the Machiavellian-Darwinian dog-eat-dog, these men of thumos seem to believe in no reason to terrify themselves with the illusion that they may be called to account for their continued destruction of their nation’s political and economic foundations.
It is wrong to come to believe that a Nigerian government populated by men of thumos is supposed to be representing the interests of the governed. Little wonder in countries like Nigeria with such low moral standards, public speech about morality has almost always been regarded as a nuisance, “an annoying brake on the freedom of action,” since a dog-eat-dog as a nation affair, is not morally justifiable, but somehow acceptable. So, it is useless to try to moderate it or make any attempt to reduce its harsh effects. This is where our men of thumos are different from their foreign counterparts. While foreign men of thumos practice Machiavellian-Darwinian dog-eat-dog internationally, exploiting every weaker nations and economies, Nigeria’s men of thumos practice dog-eat-dog on fellow Nigerians and on the nation’s supposedly commonwealth.
But, then, of what use is it for people coming together to form a society, if the guiding principle is not to pursue and maximize their common good? Why should a nation that wants public good expect by allowing men of thumos lead the way, if not public ‘bad’? But when will Nigerians bring this their long dream of a prosperously just and fair society to an end, when they know that a society ruled by thumos men is not supposed to witness serious development? When will Nigerians come to realize that their long public outcries have always and will always fall on deaf ears as long as men of thumos are not removed from the seat of power?
Yes, Wole Soyinka is right to argue in the late 1990s—when he ran away from the country, afraid of Abacha regime—that it is only an insane man with only a pen would want to fight a man heavily armed with a machine gun. But are our today’s public exploiters still armed with machine guns like our former military rulers Soyinka seems to be referring to some fifteen years ago? We will all agree that our today’s men of thumos, stripped off the power of the machine gun, can’t seriously put up a fight, especially if the exploited masses can unite to fight them. If the masses of this country could use civil disobedience to defeat the heavily armed military rulers some twelve years ago, one imagines why the same civil disobedience could not be employed to bring to an end the occupation of the affairs of state by this small group of men of thumos? But, can an immature public have the willpower to come together to drive away the monsters that have been recycling themselves in their efforts to control the resources of the state?
I think not! Here are some of the reasons why things will remain as it is today for some time to come. First, these men have successfully sown the seeds of ethnic and religious divisions and mutual hatred. Here are two tall walls which the masses of this country can hardly easily bring down.
Second, the very ease with which these men of thumos –using carrots rather than sticks—to co-opt those that have the genuine interest in using the power of the masses to unseat them, has remained a constant nightmare that has caused the continued postponement of the freeing of Nigeria from their excesses. It will be unfair not to include the fact that ours are a people who have always made do with little ambitions, who have been fully brainwashed to believe that after all, it is “vanity upon vanity.” It is only a people with little ambitions that can only believe that their situation cannot be changed because it is all about destiny.
Third—and the most important of all—are the immense external forces that this country has to contend with given its huge strategic natural resource wealth. Making the Nigerian case worst is the very way our colonialists—fully aware that without our strategic natural resources, their development would run out its vital input—have made sure that the management of the nation’s wealth never ever gets to the hands of genuine Nigerian nationalists. In other words, the British before leaving Nigeria in the hands of so-called Nigerian leaders connived with the Americans to carefully select and train Nigerian they knew could cheaply be bought to serve their neo-colonial projects in the postcolonial Nigeria.
With Nigeria’s emergent postcolonial leaders, carefully schooled narrowly in the politics of ethnicity and religion, they became strong believer in playing the game of the Machiavellian realpolitik on domestic fronts, rather than on international scene. Since the extractive industry has to be carefully factored into the equation of Nigeria’s emergent postcolonial economic infrastructure, our men of thumos easily have to scramble for positions of gatekeepers for western extractive industry conglomerates. Thus, the fight among our emergent rulers is all about who would be favored as the lead gatekeeper.
With this being the case, western oil conglomerates have had no difficulty selecting those who truly have what it takes to represent western interests in exploiting Nigeria. This way, our Darwinian political elites, working hand-in-hand with these western Machiavellian men of realpolitik, accepted their new role of gate-keeping not only as the surest way to get to power, but also remain in power. But the question our today’s leaders—like their predecessors—have not asked themselves is, why on earth should one aspire to power simply to protect and promote western interests, while one’s own national interests are constantly sabotaged?
Breaking this powerful relationship is completely the most insurmountable problem we in Nigeria face, because without doing so, Nigeria will never ever become truly independent. By all Nigerians it must be recognized that it is going to be the only do-or-die battle to fight. Saving Nigeria may also require boldly taking arms. But as I said earlier, do we really need to take arms this time arou
nd when today’s exploiters could be easily swept away simply using civil protests? No amount of grammar speaking will solve this problem. It is the people who want to effect the change that are supposed to gather themselves and begin the disobedience protest.
But there is a serious danger faced by these patriots. The very fact that these imperialists are not relenting in making sure that any emerging nationalist is either ruthlessly frustrated before he or she can even gain some national recognitions or co-opted as the new promoter of western Machiavellian-Darwinian projects in Nigeria. It is so serious that these imperialists have to deploy their best men in covert financial operations to quickly encircle and suffocate any potential threats to the well-functioning system of economic exploitation. Besides, massive blackmailing campaigns, using local and foreign media that are virtually under their control can equally be used in intimidating and humiliating these nationalists in public.
What our people have not realized is that any people who do not fight for their rights will eventually be stripped off of even the very few rights they still enjoy. You cherish your rights? You have got to fight to keep them. Don’t forget that he who is refusing you your rights is more afraid than you whose rights he keeps. One obvious truth is that he or she has more to lose than yourself, should you fight to reclaim your rights. Not only it is going to be possible for you to have your rights back, but is possible too that he or she may even lose his/her very own rights too. So what you gain fighting for your rights is far more than what you lose not fighting at all.
It is, therefore, important that we recognize this danger of inaction; inaction that has left us all at the mercy of our exploiters. One of the fights to be planned—should we want to keep the oneness of Nigeria and eventually capture our nature-given wealth—is not to allow the west to succeed in their ongoing plan to break up Nigeria into what it wants to be four independent mini states. The project of breaking up Nigeria has gone too far that it would require our shared patriotism to not allow what happened to the former Yugoslavia—its breakup into numerous independent mini states in the late 1990s—to soon happen to Nigeria. The former US ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell is already celebrating in advanced his country’s agenda of seeing Nigeria soon exist no more.
But why is America out to see Nigeria disappear into four independent mini-states? Nigeria as presently composed is the only nation on the continent that has what it takes to successfully stand on America’s way in sub-Sahara Africa; and in some occasions it has done so with some reasonable success. And the very fact that Nigeria hasn’t stopped being seen as a growing obstacle to the stationing of the US AFRICOM—land and sea military bases across the continent. It needs not be forgotten that there is this project of eventually seeing Nigeria divided along its religious lines, as it is being covertly tested in Jos. Nigeria is also recognized as the only obstacle to America’s current project of transforming the Gulf of Guinea’s huge oil reserves into an American controlled oil reserves.
Full understanding of what is at stake is required if we have to be able to oppose this danger ahead. The danger of losing our Nigeria as is presently composed. But should we be determined to fight to have the great wealth nature has blessed us with, then, not even the CIA-led imperial machinery can successfully stand long on our way. It is, therefore, imperative that we all join hands together to ensure that our upcoming 2011 national elections are not allowed to give way to the much waited breakup of Nigeria. As compatriots it is our responsibility to recognize that our common future and prosperity cannot be better pursued in a divided Nigeria—as the CIA in 2005 is propagating will happen before 2015. Our continued co-existence as nation of over 150 million people will give us collective protection from our foreign enemies. In other words, let no one try to deceive you that we don’t need one another; what is being sold here is the same old system of ‘divide and conquer’. Just as our south has huge oil reserves—which are the envy of the imperialist west—so is our north endowed with agricultural land and some yet discovered strategic minerals that will in future generate far more than what oil has brought to the country. The fast arriving world of zero-carbon energy economy (when hydrocarbon is replaced with hydrogen as the major source of energy) will demonstrate that truly our north holds the engine of our economic future.
All said and done, it would be a mistake to blame the west for all these economic pains it caused us, without fully recognizing that neither imperialism nor Machiavellian-Darwinism is a western invention. So the dog-eat-dog world is not invented to exploit Africa alone. It has been in existence as old as human history itself. So the present exploitation of Africa is because it is still the weakest and the only continent that can present little difficulty and consequences to today’s exploiters. Taking a simply tour of both our recent and remote history will confirm this. Or wasn’t America’s Civil War in the 1860s carefully sponsored by the British who secretly armed southern states to fight, and possible defeat northern states, being seen to a growing economic rivalry to Britain?
What about the European Civil War (so-called World War 1), orchestrated by a British/French alliance and supported by America so as to quickly destabilize the emerging German economic and military power? What could have explained the many economic sabotages of Japan, starting from its 1860s cultural revolutions and industrial catch-up projects with the west, and which were renewed during the WW2 with the leveling of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as Japanese industrial nerve, and once again renewed since 1985 during the so-called Plaza Accord when Japan was finally, but forcefully mandated by America and its European cousins to widely open its economy to western exploiters, permanently putting Japan in its present state of coma? Would Chinese economic miracle have happened if not that China secretly accepted to collaborate with America in its so-called cold war efforts to bring down Soviet Union, in exchange for access to financial capital and opening up western markets for Chinese goods? What kind of modern dog-eat-dog world could be more than this?
Can’t a journeying down the history lane—as remotely as the Peloponnesian War of 415 BC—where Athens’s 10,000 soldiers were dispatched to ruthlessly crush the tiny independent island state of Melos’s 500 soldiers, prove that the practice of dog-eat-dog is truly as old as history itself? Therefore, if as far back as 415 BC, a mighty Athens could refuse a tiny state’s pleas for co-existence, in which the Athenians made it clear that there was nothing wrong in excising Athens’s natural rights to destroy Melos, since if they did not, the Melians definitely would—whenever they found themselves in a position of superior power—not hesitate to crush Athens.
With history as clear as it is here, it is understandable why the efforts to hold us down is a continuum. When Africans slavery was no longer profitable, didn’t Europeans quickly replace it with colonization? When colonialism expired, didn’t Europeans—along with their Atlantic cousins, the Americans—quickly replace it with neo-imperialism, what I called the invisible empire building)? Now, if we agree with the Athenians that what they did to the Melians could be revenged should the Melians have opportunity, then, would it be seen as a fruitless argument to say that, it is only a matter of time before China revenges the west? Or should anyone disagree that soon China would start revenging Europe and America for the two brutal Opium Wars and for the occupation and humiliation o
No doubt, like how Americans patiently waited until WW2 to pay back the British in their own coin for orchestrating America’s 1860s brutal civil war in an effort to frustrate America’s emergent economic and military power, Britain and America wouldn’t expect to go free for carefully setting the trap that led to Nigeria’s own 1960s brutal civil war, in an effort to frustrate Nigeria as Africa’s rising star, the pains of mutual suspicion and hatred are still fresh in Nigeria. Why not we console ourselves with the very historical fact that no nation has ever journeyed to economic stardom without first having to go through the pains of exploitation by the most powerful?
But unknown to most Nigerians, it is the 2011 elections that will finally set the pace for our irreversible journey to what will soon become an unprecedented economic miracle in Nigeria. What that would mean is that having paid our own dues from others’ exploitation and having finally learned from that, we have decided from now on to act like smart adults. That is why it is very important that we as the electorate should become totally vigilant to make sure we elect true nationalist, men and women that would never again indulge in selling Nigeria for peanuts to the west. It is important to note that should we fail to get it right this time around, the breaking up of Nigeria—since being predicated by our exploiters who wouldn’t withstand an economically and militarily powerful Nigeria—would be knocking on our doors. The ball is now finally in our court. And we can’t afford, this time around not to play it to win. It is not true that a fool at forty (or in our own case at fifty) will be a fool forever. All the fool needs to do is to recognize he has been a fool for so long that it is time to become wise and to act wisely.
So for us to begin to act wisely we should be ready to spy on our potential leaders to know in advance whose interests have they in mind to pursue once in office. We should probe into their lives to know whether they are secretly being sponsored by some foreign powers, with the same well-known goal of continuing using them to gain control over our natural wealth. It would never be business as usual this time around! If anyone wants to become our leader and to possibly hold in trust our commonwealth, he or she should come out clean and prove to us that we are not about making the same old mistakes.