The Philosopher King

John Nima

In the Evolution of Civilization, the development of human societies started with hunter/gatherers living in prehistoric societies; gathering vegetables, fruits and roots then hunting game for protein. Nomadic existence of families and clans and doing what they could to survive. This is well depicted in the animated movie “the Crudds”. That was life some 50 eons ago.

Despite the trying existence of the Early Men, they had some sort of governance; where the eldest or strongest in the clan wielded the authority with the help of the elders. That was the beginning of societal organization.

Over the time, the Early Man evolved, settled in places along rivers and brooks with resources to sustain a sedentary existence. And the organization of authority became a bit less atrocious and with less acrimony. As the nomadic tribes across the globe settled down to communities, some form of order evolved… patriarchy, monarchy, and authoritarian. But governance evolved. That was like 20 eons ago on the historical timeline.

By 10 eons ago, most societies had developed and governance had become even more formal. The Egyptian societies, the difference Chinese era of the Hong, Han and other dynasties and societies were evolving at a frenetic pace at the time. The great empires warred and competed among themselves and sought internal and external ways to improve their societies.

What was most striking then was that as primitive as they seemingly were (in today’s timescale and philosophy), they required philosophers to help them shape the government and thus the society! This could be seen in the thoughts of Socrates, Aristotle, Confucius, Bhudda and several others. These people were schooled, had disciples and their thoughts were made available to the ruling class to help further the development of the societies! The Da Vinci family in the 16th century Florence is still quite fresh to relate with!

In those societies, kings, emperors and statesmen were made by compulsorily being made to be disciples at the feet of the great philosophers to gain knowledge, attain all-round education in government, commerce, law and military to be eligible for government! Noblemen sent their children to learn at the feet of the Greats and be able to have sound thoughts in all facet of human development before being eligible to lead! The result was that the academia/philosophers/intellectuals had a direct impact on the development of those societies! Governance and the Philosophy were one and the same! The societies were propelled directly from the direct capacities of the philosophers!

Now we might have discussed the early and medieval era till the 17th century (read the History of Europe by David Ogg) but this system has been developed to the highest levels in the past 2 centuries. Reading “My Early Life” by Winston Churchill gives an insight into how the British Public School system ties directly into the British society and thus the government…and of course, the outcomes. The British Public rSchool system is so structured that one is naturally prepared for government at a very early age! The British sports system is so made that better materials from there are sent to leadership in the military and sensitive parts of the civil service. The intellectuals drive the curriculum, and the curriculum is used to develop people for leadership! The result is that the academia is a strong foundation of leadership, government and hence, the society.

We could mention the Han Dynasty in China at about 4BCE that introduced the Civil Service entrance examination which could take up to a month at times to get the best in the society to run the Government and help the emperors to enact policies. As old as this philosophy is, it is the basic structure that subsists till date in those countries; the outcomes could be interrogated by all.

In Nigeria however, the academia/intellectual world is absolutely removed and totally separated from the government! The school system is seen as an inconvenience so much so that all the researches from the schools are an antithesis to the desires of the ruling class! The materials from the academia and philosophers are treated as seditious and treasonable such that the results of researches are treated with disdain! The Nigerian society does not benefit from the human capacity that abounds and thus, the stagnation of the Nigerian State!

The academia being frustrated by the state, emigrates and plies their trade elsewhere while those that remain simply lost the interest to care!

If the academia is of little use to the society, then why do we keep it? ASUU goes on strike for an eternity and the Government tells them to rot in hell! Of course, neither the government nor the Dons understand the loss in human development due to the fact that government in Nigeria is not incorporated in the value chain of intellectual resources available within! For a government to exist without direct intellectual contributions from the academia is an admission of the determination to immolate!

My dear friends, as long as the government is not run on the extant resources in the academia to help shape and develop the society, Nigeria would not only continue to flounder but ultimately collapse in failure! This is a fact!

The very essence of the academia is to solve human problems; and the essence of government is the development of the society. The Nigerian State does not respect this fundamental law, and as long as natural laws are disobeyed, there would always be a price to pay! And the price we are paying in Nigeria is the collapse and destruction of the Nigerian State! Before our very eyes, it’s unfolding!

Even if the federal government is insane, the states and cities ought to borrow some sense and invite the intellectuals to help shape and model the society. But each pseudo-elected “god” feels he’s got all the answers to all human problems, without having a think-tank for policymaking and the building of institutions, then end up wasting our collective time with the pedestrian approach to governance. The end result is the outcome we see now…the Tragedy called Nigeria!

You cannot separate intellectualism from governance; you’d only end up with a miserable society! It is only the combination of the academia and the people that produce philosopher kings; separating them would either give us philosophers or kings! In Nigeria, the philosophers are seen as troublemakers, while the clowns are made kings! Then we have a dysfunctional society! Here we are; still living like the “Crudds” 50 eons after! We haven’t progressed one bit!