HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsThe nature and design of civil government

The nature and design of civil government


It is never late for us to engage in serious conversations about the nature and design of civil government and why it may be justifiable for citizens to rebel against governors in the interests of self preservation.

As we look back on the experiences of post-colonial civil administrations, we are compelled to discover the foundation of the governors’ authority to command and the duty of subjects to obey.

Where tyranny begins government ends, for its governors derive their authority and power from the people and if the purpose of government is to promote the general good and to secure to men their just rights, it follows that when State actors act contrary to the end and design of their creation, they cease being governors and the people from whom they derive their authority have the right to take it from them.

What is the foundation of civil government? It is, and must be accepted the state in which all men are located in life, ie they are sovereign to order all their actions irrespective of their status, power, wealth, tribe, race, religion and etc and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit within the bounds of the law of nature.

We are all equal and no one has the right to be a superior citizen so as to have a right to control another or oppose him in what he does.

State actors are servants of the people and in cases where having employed men to secure the Republic, we find that they went directly contrary to our expectations, we must have a right to dismiss them from their service and such right must be vested in the body politic.

It is the duty of the body politic to depose any persons irrespective of the position of power and authority they may hold when it is established that they are unfaithful to the trust reposed in them, and that instead of administering justice they are disturbing the peace of society by making laws cruel and oppressive and by depriving the subjects of their rights and privileges.

In choosing the republican form of government in the majority of post-colonial African states, the duty of obedience to governors is founded upon the obligation of citizens to promote the general good and their readiness to obey lawful authority has to be measured against the actions and decisions of those in authority.

The obligation to promote the public good must extend as much to opposing every exertion of arbitrary power that is harmful to the State as it must be to submitting to laws that serve a legitimate purpose.

The experiences are far too many in many post-colonial African states where rule by law becomes the norm with good men camouflaged by ignorance and poverty are constructively removed from the operations of the State.

Even those that are enlightened have slavishly submitted to tyranny and invariably end up under the influence of cruel and evil human sentiments that inevitably contribute to the destruction of the State and a lower standard of living.

If governors are found not to be promoters of the good of the community they are appointed to serve, then it must follow that obedience to them should not be unlimited for the absurdities that obtain from having people ordained solely for the purpose of being beneficial to the State, behaving in a manner that ruins and destroys it will be impossible to cure.

The great law of preservation that informs human action compels human beings to act in the interests of protecting and promoting their collective security and welfare.

Monsters in power do emerge in human civilisation and Africa has its own dead and living examples, but it must be remarked that it is and should not be the intention of civil government to nurture and protect people that violate the rights of mankind.

It would be unreasonable to advance a proposition that it was God’s intention to give any particular set of men a power to require obedience to that which is unreasonable, cruel and unjust.

Accordingly, when governors pursue measures directly destructive of the public good, they automatically forfeit their right to obedience from the governed and the community must be under the strongest obligation of duty to resist and oppose them.

It is an established fact that in many post-colonial states, by default citizens have abdicated from their duty by allowing governors to have discretionary and unfettered powers to act against the welfare of the state and the good of the whole with impunity.

The separation of powers doctrine suggests that the legislature, judiciary and executive branches of the state can provide the safety net.

However, experience has taught us that those guilty of oppression and tyranny have not been accountable to the collective body of the state ie the public.

Any civil government must be accountable to the public. However, the public is often exposed through propaganda to costly misrepresentation of facts.

Relying on manipulated facts, it has been easy for the state to be hijacked by a few evil actors.
In securing Africa’s future, we are reminded of Booker T Washington’s speech on Democracy and Education delivered at Brooklyn, New York — September 30, 1896 when he said:

“It is said that the strongest chain is no stronger than its weakest link. The most intelligent man in your community has his intelligence darkened by the ignorance of a fellow citizen in the Mississippi bottoms. The most wealthy in your city would be more wealthy but for the poverty of a fellow being in the Carolina rice swamps. The most moral and religious among you has his religion and morality modified by the degradation of the man in the South whose religion is a mere matter of form or emotionalism.”

It is, therefore, encumbered upon all who have scaled the heights to invest in building a knowledge bank that can inform and educate the weakest links about what works and what doesn’t.

As we seek a higher economic and moral ground, we cannot defy the law of nature as it has been found to be reliable in inspiring human beings to work hard in the knowledge that their protection lies in the collective body politic rather from stolen power.

It is not safe to trust anyone with peoples’ power for it is true that if human beings are left to their own devices they are capable of unknowingly participating in the destruction of that which they are compelled by duty to protect.

For African superstars, icons and legends, the message is very clear that you have a duty to share your wisdom and experiences because ultimately it only when civil governments are tested that the future can be protected from the mistakes of yesterday.

The bank of hope that we need to create in order to secure the future has to be inclusive. Washington also correctly observed:

“The vote in your state that is cast for the highest and purest form of government is largely neutralised by the vote of the man in Louisiana whose ballot is stolen or cast in ignorance.”

Ignorance has created many governments and in between elections, civic participation has been limited due to fear and other factors that have to be squarely addressed if Africa has to live up to its promise.

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