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The game of politics and social contract

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Civil Society Network is a non-governmental organisation registered with the Corprate Affairs Commission wih a vision to ensure a democratically stable and peaceful society where justice, equity and rule of law reigns supreme even among the poor. It also functions as an independent watchdog to the progremme and policies of government as they affect the people.

CSN has undertaken the onerous task of ensuring that the masses know their rights, roles and duties in government, and that those in power know their limits and what they are supposed to do. This column is part of that civic duty.

Last time, we talked about government and the origin of government, which simply put, can be called so­cial contract. In order words, people coming together and saying this is the way they wish to live and live comfort­ably; meaning that they have to surrender their powers to a central system and let some­body manage this power for them, not against them. Now they are going to tell the per­son what they want or how they want the powers to be used and the person uses it for them the way the want it, not the way he wants it.

While the different aspects, patterns and shapes of this contract manifest, something starts playing out which is called politics. In the old Greek city state, it is called polis tikos, which means the activities of the city state or what happens in the state. And what happens there is the give and take of the ex­change of these powers and its exercise. That is why Har­old Lasswell says that pol­itics is all about who gets what, where and how. But at this point of who gets what, where and how is where the real issues arise. If we look at Anambra State today, we see what is about to happen; the gubernatorial elections. Some people are jostling saying they are coming out to become governors. That is why at this point there is something these people do say. Who are they saying it to? The masses who own this power. They would say, “Give me that your power so that I will exercise it the way you will be comfortable.” They are not saying, “Let me use my power to do it.” If that be the case, then there is no need for them to come to you. This is where the game of politics plays out. It is about “how do I get what I want with what I have?” This means that inter­est is involved. That is why it is said that politics is a game of interest.

Now the scenario is like this; the person coming to play the game of politics comes with his own interest. You that he wants to get your mandate from also have your own interest. How do you ex­change these two interests? That is when they would bring rice and bread and add it N2000 or N5000, in order to exchange your interest to bet­ter their own interest. What you have to check, therefore ,is whether your interest for the next four years is worth 2000 or 5000. If that is what your life is worth in the next four years, then go ahead and mortgage your power for it. But if your life is worth more than that, then you tell the person this is what I want for my life in the next four years and if you can guarantee me that, I will give you this pow­er for you to go there and rep­resent my authority. But if you sell out, you have sold out, but if you don’t, then you can ask for account of stewardship. That is why you talk about ac­countability and transparency because you are working for the people as a governor. But there cannot be accountability if you are not responsible to the people. So, it is high time the people understood that the power belongs to them and that government is their property.

It marvels me when I hear that somebody pays sala­ry and people clap for him. When did it become a favour to pay one for work done. Even in companies, if some­body works for you and you refuse to pay him, you are a criminal. So, why is it that when somebody works for you and you make profit from the person and then expect to be given accolades for paying the person. We live in a cap­italist society and everybody is thriving towards making profit from every venture. So, when people work for you, you make profit from them. If you don’t make profit, then the company cannot survive. You make your profit as a company and then pay the workers from what they have produced. So one who claps for a government for paying its workers is just being silly.

People have to understand that nobody comes to the government house with his own money to work for the people. It is the generali­ty of the money the people own that the government works with. Some people do not even know we own this money, but they only know if they have oil deposit in their backyard and they say they want to harness that oil. Gov­ernment will come and tell you that you do not have the right to do so, that they want to use it for the good of every­body. That is why you have to relinquish your right over that natural resource. Now, if government harnesses it and says they want to use it for the good of everybody, if it is sold, how do we share the proceeds? Everybody cannot come and queue up to collect their share. What they would have to do is to send their rep­resentatives. These represen­tative is what the president is for the whole federation; the governor, for the state and the local government chair­man, for the local government area. Now, if they collect this thing on your behalf, instead of giving it to you by hand, they would say, “What do you want that everybody wants?” That is when people can now talk about that road that is useful to everybody; water, light and healthcare, that are common to everybody.

What is his life like in the past? How has he been living his life up to his family life. A man that cannot handle his family very well may not be able to manage the entirety of the state. If you cannot con­trol your home, you cannot control the people.

It is also noteworthy for people to know that politics is not a profession. Politics is all about come and con­trol this system for four years and if you do it well, which is half time, we give you an­other four years, which is full time. If the person do not do well in the first half, you use the power of your thumb to vote him out when he comes out to be elected the second time. We are not supposed to be worshipping the per­son who we have given our collective power or running away from him. It should be the other way round.

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