In the WhatsApp forum of the Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts, which I coordinate, one of the scholars made this point:
“However, on a lighter note, I see more than a bit of Ojo Maduekwe in @Sam Amadi . The only difference so far is that DSA still appears a bit shy or hesitant to hug the Ojo political philosophy fully. Painfully, it is a choice he has to make pretty soon. I can also see the inherent contradictions or areas of conflict; and since DSA is open to counsel, I’d advise he first finds out whether the Ojo political climate is still obtainable today🙏”
This statement was made in respect of the controversy generated by my announcement as a Director in one presidential campaign council. Most of the scholars feel I should reject the appointment. A few feel it is in furtherance of my nation-building responsibility to accept and provide ideas and strategies to whoever sincerely needs them and will accept them.
Fortuitously, I was about to deliver a keynote lecture at an seminar organized by men of St James Anglican Church, Asokoro on the role of citizens in election and leadership in Nigeria in 2023 and Beyond when the statement was posted on the WhatsApp forum. The Chairman of the seminar was Ambassador Godknows Boladei Igali. He had earlier introduced me and said nice things about my intellect , passion for public service and all that. Before I mounted the stage, he took the microphone again. He forgot something. He had to point out one fact people did not know about me. In his words, Ojo Maduekwe was one of the greatest intellectuals in politics. Sam Amadi is a protege of Ojo Maduekwe. What you see about Sam is partly a creation of Ojo Maduekwe.
The coincidence was unusual. In a WhatsApp forum someone is linking my views about politics and social order to Ojo Maduekwe. At the same time, someone is announcing me as a product of Ojo Maduekwe. It was then I recalled that perhaps I owe much debt to Chief Ojo Maduekwe than I have acknowledged. How much do I share in common with the great Ojo?
I met Chief Ojo Maduekwe through the good office of Osita Chidoka long after my philosophical outlook had been formed. After gaining a doctoral degree in law and majoring in legal theory and legal philosophy, and working as a Coordinator of the Catholic Secretariat Thinktank and Special adviser to the Senate President on Research and Strategy, you are no longer an impressionable youth. You have been formed.
When I met Ojo, he embraced me with much love. We had mutual love for theories, ideas and books that contain them. Even before I became his adviser as Foreign Affairs Minister we had been sharing insights about philosophy, history, politics and theology. In fact, it was the fact that we had many favorite theologians in common that endeared me to him. We both love Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Karl Barth, and H Richard Niebuhr. Ojo was a Presbyterian. And his concept of social order was rooted in the Calvinist doctrine of sin and authority. This requires that we have government that can control the tendency to sin. A bad government is better than no government at all.
Whilst Ojo Maduekwe was of the right of the center political ideology, I was and remain mostly left of the center political ideology. There were many issues we disagreed about their solutions because we prioritized different values. But we converged on the Platonic approach which is idealistic to the point of predicating any political choice to the fundamental review of moral truth. Ojo was also realistic to understand that politics is the art of the possible. He believed in ethical duality as counseled by Max Weber: the ethics of convictions and the ethics of responsibility. The first speaks to what OUGHT to be done; the other speaks to what SHOULD be done. The OUGHT is not always coterminous with the SHOULD.
You can now understand a bit why anyone could feel that Ojo was an “every government in power”. He was institutional and believed in deliberate programs to solve problems. This required presence in government. He was extremely gifted and supremely disposed to serve; hence he was often tapped to serve. This is mistaken by people like Alfredo Awa, a one-time Chairman of Abia PDP, who once retorted to a plea to allow Ojo be screened for a ministerial appointment with “Is Ojo the only person with a certificate in Abia State”. Well, Ojo definitely was not the only person who had certificate in Abia. In fact, he had only an LLB. But, perhaps Ojo was the only person who had that kind of intellect, philosophical outlook and burning passion to serve persons in political authority as part of a commitment to further the Calvinist vision.
After the lecture I took time to reflect on the debt I owe Chief Ojo Maduekwe. I realized that it consists in the fact that Ojo solidified my commitment as an institutionalist. I am a critic. But not a critic who prefers to stay at the margin. I am an institutionalist because I believe that institutions can work and should be made to work. An institutionalist understands the logic of institutions and knows that the outcome is largely determined by the dynamics in the institutions. So while other critics shy away from Institutions, an institutionalist takes the fight to the cockpit of institutions with a determination to change the dynamics there. Of course there is no guarantee of success. Like Plato, institutionalist on the “Lure of Syracuse” may journey to Sicily only to discover that Dionysius is neither a philosopher or a lover of philosophy.
But it might be that the only achievement for such a deluded institutionalist is ”a moderate government under the stable rule of law”.
‘Prof Sam Amadi is the Director, Abuja School of Political and Social Thoughts’
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