Hello <<First Name>>
It’s great to be with you again. I hope you are keeping safe? Washing your hands, wearing a mask and observing social distancing are the best ways to avoid getting infected by the coronavirus disease.
In today’s newsletter, I want to talk about something that influenced my transition from business to politics- the dynamics of power and justice. This issue is well captured in the book I am reading this month. I am reading “How to Think Politically: Sages, Scholars and Statesmen Whose Ideas Have Shaped the World.” The book was co-authored by James Bernard Murphy and Graeme Garrard, two highly regarded professors of politics.
I remember sometime in 2014 after fire gutted Aleshinloye market, Ibadan. I went to sympathise with the traders and they told me that the fire would not have been severe if they had access to water supply. I immediately asked them to mobilise people to dig a borehole. But the very next day, the work was stopped. The chairman of that local government area said the project was not ordered by “his government” and so cannot be carried out.
I share this story because this is what happens when people in power do not understand the importance of justice. Reading this, you may condemn that chairman and say the right thing to do should have been to allow a philanthropist to give the people a borehole that the government could not. You would be right in thinking that way. But what is the value of your pointing out this injustice if you had no power to make things right?
I could apply this to several things that have happened in our country in the past few months. The End SARS protests started with people seeking justice. The youths understood what justice meant in this instance and they made demands. But they did not have the power needed to get their demands met. That power rests in the political class. And with the way our country is structured, there is only so much that can be done.
And so, one thing that great sages, scholars and statesmen had going for them was that they understood the intersection between power and justice. Today, there is a great need to ensure that only people who understand justice get access to power and that those in power surround themselves with people who understand justice.
We need to learn how noble leaders of the past achieved the power/justice balance and that is why you should read this book with me this February.
Stay safe and talk to you again soon.