Opinion: What do Aristole, Arewa and Ohaneze have in common?

by Alicho Vincent


Jonathan comes from the group of labourers and slaves, those who naturally do not have the mental capacity to rule and therefore should be ruled.

At the moment, even children in Nigeria can, without giving a second thought, testify that all is not well with the country. They even know that the ailments are coming from different angles. If they have not been able to fully comprehend the meaning of the acronym ASUU and the word ‘strike,’ they must have seen some of their older siblings who are supposed to be studying in the universities sitting idle at home. If they are not able to explain what terrorism is all about, they must have heard of Boko Haram and the terrible job the group is carrying out in Nigeria.

The problems are many to be enumerated. Some Nigerians have through one means or the other expressed that the country is rapidly veering towards a dangerous direction. In fact, some tribes and ethnic groups have threatened to pull out of the Nigerian nation if a forum is not created for Nigerians to sit down together and discuss the way forward. Fortunately, the president has hearkened to the urgency of the situation by calling for the convocation of a national conference. Since this was announced by the president on the 1st of October, it has been reported that the different tribes and ethnic groups in the country have all gone to work to articulate their points and appoint their representatives for the conference.
It is in this light that the umbrella association of Igbo unions, Ohaneze, recommended that representations in the proposed national conference be on equality of the different tribes or ethnic groups in the country. To the amazement of so many people, this recommendation did not go down well with the members of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) who immediately made their stance known through their National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Anthony Sani. According to Sani, “someone needs to inform Ohaneze that its recommendations that representations in the national dialogue should be on equality does a lot of violence to definition of injustice by Aristotle who said injustice is not only when equals are treated unequally but is also injustice when unequals are treated equally. One wonders the justification in making the representations by Ibos (sic) and Idoma of Benue state to be on equality, or that of South East and North West to be on equal basis.”
Reactions have trailed that vehement stance of the ACF. So many people cannot understand why the ACF are always averse to any call for a national dialogue especially at a time like this. But one only needs to look deeper in order to discover what Arewa are really talking about.  Sani did not quote Aristotle just to showcase how educated he is. No. He rather let other Nigerians confirm the theory that has all the while been the substratum of all Arewa political strivings in Nigeria. This theory, unfortunately, Arewa found in Aristotle.

For Aristotle, the notion of natural inequality is central to the conception of humanity, with a view to both individual and communal living. Natural inequality forms the basis for not only establishing partnership in the society but also the highest form of partnership. In fact, for the life of the society to be lived well, inequality must be seen as an undisputed ingredient. But how did Aristotle arrive at this position? Aristotle started by stating that the state is a natural institution which arose from natural associations among people, basically from man and woman, the agents of procreation. From these agents, the family emerged, whose major function is the provision of the daily needs.

The coming together of families brought about the emergence of the village whose importance transcends the provision of daily needs. The coming together of villages in turn brought about the emergence of the state which for Aristotle is most perfect and most varied. (When Aristotle said that the human person is a political animal, we understand him from here). The state was seen as been prior to the individual though not in the order of nature but rather in the order of becoming. This is what brought about the necessity of everyone to submit to the state and its hierarchy just as a wife naturally submits to the husband, the child to the parents, and the slave to the master.
Now, in this state, Aristotle further stated that slavery was natural. He came about this by observing that slaves invariably were strong and large, and therefore concluded that slavery was a product of nature. For him, some persons are by nature free while others are by the same nature slaves. We can, from here, begin to understand the position of Arewa as they go about preaching their message of inequality in Nigeria. Aristotle went on to state that for one to qualify as a citizen of the state, the person must have the ability to take his or her share in ruling and being ruled. Since this citizen would be expected to sit in the assembly and the law courts, such a person would have ample time as well as showcase appropriate temperament and character. It is on this basis that Aristotle concluded that such persons as labourers and slaves could not be said to be citizens since they had neither time nor the appropriate mental development and character to administer the political process in the state.

Therefore, for Aristotle, it is simply necessary that some should rule and others be ruled since from the hour of their birth, some are penciled down for subjugation while others are made to rule.We do not need to task ourselves much to reconcile this Aristotelian position (which Arewa have tenaciously held on to) and the Arewa political slogan ‘Born To Rule.’ Arewa have, from the beginning, marked themselves out as the group of rulers while regarding others as the group of labourers and slaves. Do we need to consult any oracle to know that the only thing Arewa are after in Nigeria is the presidency? Arewa have found it very difficult to recognize Goodluck Jonathan as the president of Nigeria because for them,

Jonathan comes from the group of labourers and slaves, those who naturally do not have the mental capacity to rule and therefore should be ruled. Arewa cannot accept the recommendations of Ohaneze that representations in the proposed national conference be on equality of tribes and ethnic groups because for them (Arewa), other tribes and ethnic groups are not their (Arewa’s) equal, hence Sani’s Aristotelian conclusion that it is injustice when unequals are treated equally.

It should be noted that Arewa started all this scheming right from the creation of states in Nigeria. People should no longer ask why the northern part of Nigeria was divided into 19 states (Abuja inclusive) while the southern part could only be found worthy to have 17 states.Truly, Arewa know what they are doing. The only thing they do not know is that that Aristotelian theory they have vehemently subscribed to has remained Aristotle’s weakest piece of thought and also the most criticized.




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Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


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