Nigeria remains a country divided by various interests yet bonded together by similar interests. Every time there is a dissenting opinion calling for a change from the status quo, the beneficiaries of the present political arrangement are quick to remind us of what danger signal we may be sending across. What they have not told you and I, is how this system continues to protect their self-
At large, across the length and breadth of the country exist a network of ruling elites, they cut
across every religion, profession and ethnic group. And they draw their legitimacy from the very existence of all Nigerians, in the name of Nigerians and for Nigerians. How do they do this? They build on our political communities, define the community membership with social and economic rights.
For the common good of our communities and in the general interest of all, this ruling elites claim to act. Altruism is the order of the day, they make us believe that they are acting on our half to benefit us, then why complain about their human efforts to satisfy our needs. What they have not told us, is how their self-interests makes altruism invincible. “No man giveth but with intention of good to himself” says Thomas Hobbes, one of the first modern democratic theorist. For someone who helps an injured stranger, his reward or gain might be relieving his distress from seeing someone in pain.
The ruling elites actions don’t count to be altruistic when they make no sacrifice on their part to benefit the common good of all. But trying to measure the level of self-interest and altruism in our ruling elites is rather difficult, why? Over the years we have not been able to define what is in the common interest of our community, our public interest has been over taken by religious and ethnic advocacy.
There is no community on earth were people have 100% freedom to do what they want, what exists are communities bounded by public interests and driven by a set of individuals who should possibly have personal self-interests to buy into the idea. At other times there would be conflict of public interest and self-interest, whichever one takes precedence is determined by several other factors.
Often people want good things for their communities, they would want good roads, good schools and healthcare facilities, in order to get this, they may need to have a voice. Everyone does not get to have a voice at the same time but they entrust their voice in the hands of representatives who they believe share the same public interests with them.
However, it becomes difficult for the representatives to share the same public interests with his community when he has an exit strategy as a result of the opportunity to represent the community. He may join the ruling elite which is expected and before long he differs with his community. For how long he gets away with this is determined by how well he can manipulate the information he has access to, by the virtue of his position in the network he finds himself.
For as long as the polis consists of more people who openly pursue public interests but differ from their conception of self-interests, the ensuing confusion/problem is humongous. It is in the interest of the ruling elites with access to information to hamper the development of ideas in the community with a view to create distortion. Note, our ideas and what we want and the choices we make are shaped by education, persuasion and socialization. Once our ideas are influenced, our actions will surely be influenced by the little circle which has access to information the community does not have. With this influence comes coercion built upon the self-interests of the ruling elites.
Written by Rosanwo Babatunde