The Ubuntu Philosophy of “I am because we are” breaks the barrier of the religious divide, ethnicity, denominationalism, sectarianism, and self-centeredness by bringing everyone together and presenting them as equally devoid of biases.
Unfortunately, modern African politicians have turned a blind eye to this great idea because it “naked” (exposed) corruption, godfatherism, and sentiment from its covering. In their article, Ubuntu Philosophy for Public Leadership and Governance Praxis: Revisiting the Ethos of Africa’s Collectivism, Kwame Asamoah and Emmanuel Yeboah Assiamah notes, “Africans have an Ubuntu Philosophy which culturally calls on individuals to promote the welfare of a collective society. It is paradoxical to note how African leaders and governance regimes perform poorly when using public resources to create conditions for collective human welfare” (Emerald Insight, 2019).
In recent times, the Ubuntu Theory of “togetherness” has been revisited by students and scholars of Humanities to reflect on a more profound African concept of humanity, kinship, politics, governance, love, and togetherness. This theory seeks to unite everyone: the poor, the elites, the disabled, the strong, the religious and non-religious, men, women, children, and future generations. It opines that no one exists in an authentic African sense of togetherness without the other. It emphasizes the significance of every person in African society irrespective of social class, status, or gender. Ubuntu Philosophy gives voice to the voiceless, the marginalized, and the downtrodden. If the contemporary African political system seeks to be democratic, just, and inclusive, no better slogan or theory fits into any well-meaning manifesto than the Ubuntu Philosophy.
With national and State elections in February, I call on all office seekers in Plateau State, especially governorship aspirants and the entire citizenry, to use the Ubuntu Philosophy. First, to the aspirants and office seekers, your manifesto must seek to include every citizen and member of Plateau State, devoid of ethnic identity or religious affiliation, which is precisely what the Ubuntu Philosophy wants you to do. When you seek votes in villages and cities, you do not only ask your kinsmen or religious denomination to vote for you. You do not call on only your gender or ask your peers, colleagues, or class to vote for you. You seek the votes of everyone. However, sometimes, in seeking votes, you share incentives to buy votes and even use thugs to disrupt the election when you realize that the vote will not go in your favor.
The barbarous idea of dividing people through coercion, intimidation, and election disruption deviates from the amiable Ubuntu Philosophy. It is high time we do away with sentimental politics to benefit our communities, people, and the future. It will help if you think of the community beyond yourself. If the election does not favor you, embrace “I am because we are.” For the citizens you wanted to represent, be graceful enough to step down peacefully and support whoever emerges to build a stronger Nigeria, Plateau State, zone, and locality. Remember, there is always a tomorrow.
Jonathan Goodluck will forever be remembered for accepting defeat right after the announcement that the election did not favor him in 2015 to his opponent as an incumbent president. According to Goodluck, “my political ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian” Without this human consciousness in our politics, our politics will not improve. Nobody deserves to be sick just because you are seeking political office.
I am calling on all Candidates on the Plateau to unite our people rather than divide them in 2023. I urge all aspirants to think beyond themselves and their families, embrace the diverse groups of people in our communities, and treat them with love and probity. It is all to our benefit. If you win, you are winning for all of us; if you lose, there is always another time.
To the masses, I am using this same philosophy to say we should not let ourselves be divided by desperate and power-hungry politicians. We need to remain united. We are the power of the community. In our togetherness, we can change the power dynamics and trajectory of our politics. All aspirants depend on our votes to decide who among them would lead us for the next four years. We should not sell our rights cheaply. It is time to prove our worth to ourselves and the world. It is time to show how united we can be to stand against politicians who use old colonial tactics of divide and rule. As we go to the poll, we must think about our future. In deciding whom to vote for, ask questions such as what is Plateau State’s future instead of looking at who gave us money and who did not. We must think beyond ourselves as well.
In doing so, we must come together and raise more profound existential questions: What is the future of education on the Plateau amid the technological advancement of European nations, China, and other nations of the world? What is the future of our life, property, and security on the Plateau? What is the future of job security on the Plateau? Added to these questions, we could also look at the profile of all our aspirants. As past office holders, what have they done for the Plateau people? As businessmen and women, how did they create a business on the Plateau? As academics, what is their contribution to education? We must evaluate their sense of patriotism rather than rhetoric on religion, ethnicity, and regionalism. Politicians without anything to offer use religion, tribe, and region to divide us. Those divides contradict the theory of “I am because we are.” Vote for capable and right-thinking politicians not because they belong to your tribe but for the future of our dear state. Do not let yourselves be intimidated by anyone. The power of democratic governance is still in your hands despite the corruption in our electoral process.
Finally, to our electoral bodies, INEC and PLASEIC, “I am because we are” also applies to you. In the past, Nigerians believed all elections were rigged, sold, or manipulated by the electoral body. This has made citizens lose hope and trust in the electioneering process in Nigeria. Would you change this perception about INEC and PLASEIC in the thinking of an average Nigerian person? It takes one or two officers in 2023 to change this narrative. Suppose you have decided that you will not allow rigging or election manipulation; it will go a long way in making a difference and restoring hope in our communities. Remember that you are an electoral official to serve the masses, not selected individuals (politicians).
In the name of “I am because we are,” would you stand for justice, truth, equity, and restoration? In the name of “I am because we are,” would you like to see a new Plateau and a new Nigeria? A Plateau that stands tall amid other states in Nigeria? As an electoral official, would you listen to the cries of ordinary men, women, children, the disabled, Muslim, Christian, and African Religious Practitioners as you would to an incumbent Governor, Senator, Member House of Representative, Minister, Commissioner, Member House of Assembly, Pastors, or Imam? Would you treat us as equal human beings?
Let us build a new Plateau together, a Plateau that appreciates our diversity, a Plateau of “I am because we are.”
Kefas Lamak, Kefas.
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