Chitema: King of Nigeria, Philosopher of the Modern Age


Chitema: King of Nigeria, Philosopher of the Modern Age

Written by Lawan Pokkar Majana

“There will be no end to the problems of nations, or the problems of humanity itself, until philosophers become kings in this world, or until those whom we now call kings and rulers become truly and honest philosophers, and thus political power and philosophy are in the same hands.
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Until the philosophers become kings, or the kings and lords of this world enjoy the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one place… Cities will never rest from their evils.”

– Plato

There are probably millions of Nigerians and billions of people from all over the world, across generations, who have drawn inspiration from the aforementioned immortal lines taken from Plato’s book ‘The Republic’, which was written around 375 BC. But for the purpose of this piece, let us limit the scope to two notable Nigerians who lived in two different generations but whose footprints on the sands of time are enormous and their influence on governance, politics, history, literature and general knowledge. It can never be forgotten.

One of them is Africa’s greatest storyteller, the late Chinua Achebe, who, in his 1983 bestselling book, The Trouble with Nigeria, blamed Nigeria’s failure to develop into a proper nation-state, develop its economy in line with world-class potential and rise above mediocrity​ , on the leadership. Regarding Achebe, the Nigerian pavilion’s failure to fly was due to the refusal or failure of the leadership to rise to the occasion and take responsibility for good governance. There is nothing wrong with Nigerian weather, climate, soil, land or water, Achebe said; That leadership is all the country needs to reform before it can be taken seriously in the community of serious nations.

Before revealing the second example of a contemporary Nigerian whose life path and vision look as Plato was looking for leadership, we must fully examine the basic ideas behind Plato’s definition of a great leader.

The ancient Greek thinker got the idea for the philosopher king from his teacher and father of Greek philosophy, Socrates, who defined the philosopher king as someone who loves and cherishes wisdom, has an enduring craving for knowledge of any kind, and is always curious and eager to learn, relearn, and abolish learning. Above all, Socrates concluded that all true philosophers love the truth and curse the consequences of speaking openly, no matter who butchers his ox.

Regarded as one of the founders of Western philosophy and among the early moral philosophers of the moral tradition of thought, Socrates went on to explain why philosophers should rule the city. They should do so because they are better able to know the truth and because they have the relevant practical knowledge with which to judge.

In the development of Western philosophy, it is believed that Socrates did not do much writing, although some of the ideas later expanded and written by the philosophers who succeeded him were originally his own. This is why some of his students like Plato are celebrated more than him because they wrote a lot about their discoveries and their high knowledge of society, humanity, governance, science, etc. It was the features that Plato wrote about from conversations he had with Socrates that the former expanded with deeper and more practical ideas.

In Plato’s Republic, he wrote that the philosopher king is the ruler in whom political skill is combined with philosophical knowledge.

Plato believed that philosophers would be the best rulers of society because they were able to understand true good and justice in a way that others could not. Because they will understand that the greatest self-interest is to live virtuously, they will act ethically and not out of self-interest.

Plato’s ideal state was a republic with three classes of citizens: artisans, helpers, and philosophical kings, each with a distinct nature and abilities. Moreover, these tendencies reflect a certain set of elements within an individual’s tripartite soul, consisting of appetite, spirit, and mind.

Plato’s ideal and just state is an aristocracy, the rule of the best. He believed that commanders need to be wise and trained in how to run a country, just as captains of ships are trained in how to run ships.

Being a native and resident (for many years) in Borno state, he observes Chitima as he speaks, both in and out of government, showing his depth of knowledge and erudition; You watch him embrace great ideas about corporate governance at the state and national level; seeing him put his life on the line and boldly lead people in the face of adversity and dare fearsome Boko Haram terrorists; His vision shows empathy and prioritizes the well-being, safety and security of the people; Examine his sense of fairness and justice and an understanding of right and wrong. Having read and absorbed Plato’s time-tested idea of ​​what kind of people should lead, I was trying to conclude that this man must be a very good example of the great leader Plato wrote glowingly centuries ago. But before I made my thoughts public, Shetima himself said them as if he had stolen them from my mouth.

Speaking about the secret behind his strong relationship with his hard-working successor, Governor Babajana Zulum, in a recent interview with the Daily Trust, Shetima described himself as a philosopher king who understands the intricacies and trappings of power and knows how and when to let go and let others shine when it’s their turn rather than striving to outdo them, and most importantly That, putting the interest of the state above personal interests.

Shetima said, “I am a philosopher-king, and none of the vicissitudes of power attract me so much. In life as in politics the winter years. They go into hibernation and bloom during the summer period. I held power for eight years, but when a new mayor came into town, I had to I move to a higher level and go off the radar and let it boom and call the shots.”

There is no doubt in the fact that Shetima is indeed a philosopher king in the mold of the great leader upheld by Plato. The eight remarkable years in office as Governor of Borno State, the humility and selflessness which he brings in his dealings with his successor, the sheer ingenuity he makes in discussing issues of politics and governance, and his honest and daring pursuit of truth, fairness, and equity. And the directive only wants his party and the country to go in the elections of 2023, they all come together to bear witness to the aforementioned fact that he is indeed the king of a contemporary philosopher.

With a philosopher king like Chitema swirling around the political system, the future is bright for Nigeria and Nigerians.

Lawan Pokar Majana writes from the Wuyi district of Abuja and can be reached at [email protected]

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