Morality and Politics in Nigeria: The Kantian Model


Chapter 1: Historical Reflection
Chapter 2: Basic Assumptions Of Democracy
Chapter 3: Democracy In Nigeria Since Independence And Political Leadership Experience
Chapter 4: A Moral Review Of Democratic Governance In Nigeria
Chapter 5: Demarcating Between Public And Private Morality
Chapter 6: Ruthlessness In Public Life
Chapter 7: Politics And Moral Character
Chapter 8: Kant's Categorical Imperative And Democratic Governance In Nigeria
Chapter 9: The Categorical Imperative And Right Leadership
Chapter 10: The Categorical Imperative And Democratic Ideals
Chapter 11: The Categorical Imperative And Human Interest
References Index


Democratic values such as freedom, equality, justice, etc. are no doubt significant concepts that have made democracy to endear itself to the hearts of men of different persuasions. Obviously, this has informed its wide acceptability and consequently the desire to link up every government with democratic principles. John Locke one of the early political thinkers had conceived democratic ideas in his age with emphasis on the importance of consent. Jones pointed out that "In his insistence on this fundamental right, he at once reflected the growing sense of individuality that was one of the marks of the new age and laid the basis for democratic theory and practice" (270). There is no doubt, with his doctrine of consent, Locke aimed at providing a moral foundation for the use of force in securing or putting sovereignty into the hands of the majority of citizens; which is a major characteristic of democracy. Jean Jacques Rousseau's theory of the "General Will", which is another feature of democracy, presupposes that the idea of a moral foundation for political consent did not end with Locke's political theory. Rousseau's political philosophy, which begins by magnifying. moral sentiments against reason, is in agreement with Immanuel Kant. Sabine and Thorson buttress this point by stating that Rousseau denied that rational self-interest is a reputable moral motive and excluded prudence from the list of moral virtues. The outcome might be a more radical doctrine of equality that could be defended on ground of reason and individual rights since Rousseau supposed that the moral virtues exist in the greatest purity among the common people. (532) Suffice it to say that from the foregoing, the idea of morality as a basis for democracy especially in respect of considering the consent of the people was in a way muted by great political thinkers of old. This will no doubt help in critically examining the Nigerian democratic practice, using Kant's categorical imperative.

The gains from democracy are most often deduced from notions such as justice, equality, liberty, social harmony, self-fulfillment; welfare, etc. these obviously arc associated with democracy itself as both a -political system and a form of government. These notions put in different words- form the ideals of democracy. They fundamentally qualify democracy as having the values to be sought for in modern governance and the moment these ideals are lost in any form of democratic governance then the system has failed. This suggests that the ideals are inseparable from the practice of democracy. These ideals enhance human dignity partly because they arc meant to serve man as the ultimate end and not merely as a means to achieving other ends. This is a position Kant agrees with about man. If man is conceived as the ultimate end -and not a means, then that which enhances man has to come from within man himself. That is, the moral will enables the moral good. Presently, Nigeria as a sovereign state has in less than a decade joined other nations in pursuit of these democratic ideals. However, suffice it to say that, the practice of democracy is no doubt different from one nation to another. The different cultural values and different levels of SOCIO- economic and political awareness may have informed the differences in democratic practice. But it remains a central theme that the presence of these ultimate goals such as justice, equality and freedom makes the system democratic no matter the paradigm adopted in its practice. Apparently, democratic structures in Nigeria- since the first republic have had no solid foundation and any system without a foundation is bound to collapse. Thus, the focus. of this research is. on the major cause(s) of the collapse or failure of the democratic system in Nigeria which nevertheless, has been attributed principally to the lack of moral values in Nigeria citizenry especially, those whom the political leadership is bestowed upon. It was discovered that self-interest has been the major reason behind the immoral or unethical display of leadership as well as the poor general conduct of the citizens. Morality or immorality is, plausibly stated, in human conscience and not in the form of government or its adopted paradigm.

Little wonder Socrates in The Republic focused on human conscience given his dictum "an unexamined life is not worth living." Furthermore, Jones argued that "in a democratic theory, the people as a whole arc sovereign" (151). Hence it takes the examination of all the moral wills of the people in Kant's universalizability sense to have a society well founded on morals. Ozumba expressed that, "the deviation of democracy from its pristine form has brought in its wake a series of modifications and perversions consequently muddled up by the meaning of the term 'democracy'. It has in recent times assumed as varied a meaning as would leave an untutored mind in confusion and wonderment" (34). Accordingly democracy is fast becoming a degenerated concept used only to obtain a 'pass' into the hearts of Nigerians who expect miracles from the concept rather than from good human operations of the system. Equally, the accomplishment of this good human operations will suffer a big blow if man's conscience is not sought for, given that the good will which entails what ought to be the case, comes into political theory only to the extent that, man's beliefs about the "ought" influence his conduct. The 'ought' here is contrary to what 'is' as found in human experience.