Aristotle and Plato are two of the first philosophers in the Western world to have written extensively on politics. Plato, in his work “The Republic” and Aristotle, in his work “Politics” both postulated on the political loyalty and good man.
While Plato, through his discussion of justice, brings up the idea that loyalty is loyalty no matter what, Aristotle opined that the quality of loyalty is not a matter of your service or support to a person or idea but instead is related to the intentions behind that support.
Aristotle suggests that a good man and a good citizen are two separate entities. Plato postulates that the self-serving aspect of loyalty does not constitute political loyalty.
Succinctly, many people who are not conversant with the political circuit of Nigeria between 2011 to 2015 may not know the name Abolaji Abdullahi, the man who exemplified in the clearest and easiest way of defining what political loyalty is.
I have argued with many people who believed that loyalty does not matter in politics, and I keep wondering if politics and loyalty are opposite but the political life of Bolaji Abdullahi always came to my mind as a rescue.
In fact, Abolaji Abdullahi does know if I exist and the aim of writing this piece is not for praise-singing but to set the record straight as we discuss political loyalty and at the same time to re-echo to anyone who cares to listen that whatever we do will surely become a history. This always serves as a reminder for me on everything I do. I do tell people that am never in a panic about my actions and inactions but solely afraid about the history that would follow my decisions. History is something one cannot re-write.
I decided to share this piece of thought with young Nigerians not to see the word loyalty as something that does not exist but a virtue that can take one to a greater height.
Bolaji Abdullahi is a Nigerian Politician and a Journalist from Kwara State. He served in the cabinet of the Ex-Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, as the Honourable Minister of Youth Development in July 2011, and defunct as the Minister of Sports.
He was a political boy to the former senate president, Abukabakr Bukola Saraki, and was nominated by Former President Goodluck Jonathan to serve as a Minister under his cabinet.
As the run-up to the 2015 presidential election intensifies, his political father parted away with the PDP-Jonathan-led administration and formed an alliance with the All Progressives Congress while he was a minister of Youth and Sports.
He was left with the option of choosing between what he liked and loyalty. Luckily, the honest man towed the path of reckoning.
Ironically, In Nigeria today, many people that are promoting Yemi against the candidacy of Asiwau Bola Ahmed Tinubu his political godfather see nothing wrong with Yemi to challenge the popularity of his benefactor, they opined that in politics everything is possible.
The question is if politics has no virtue, then what is the essence of loyalty as displayed by Bolaji Abdullahi? He agrees with the theory of loyalty as postulated by Plato that the self-serving aspect of loyalty does not constitute political loyalty. He resigned from the ministerial appointment to display loyalty to his boss. How many politicians can do that today?
In August 2019, when Bolaji Abdullahi celebrated the golden age of 50 and was asked what was his greatest challenge in life, he responded in affirmative.
“What you call challenges are those things that happened in the normal course of work. One of the most difficult things for me was the day I had to leave office as Minister. What was challenging in it were the circumstances that surrounded my leaving. I felt I was doing a good job, working and maintaining a high dose of loyalty to the president.
“For the first time in 19 years, Nigeria was African Champion in athletics. But suddenly, I had to choose between someone I have always considered as a boss and friend against someone who appointed me as a minister. I wished I was not in that situation. It was difficult for me, but I had to go on the side of principle, which to me means loyalty. I come from a home where loyalty is everything.”
Among the virtues that made Kwara State dear to me is the attitude displayed by Bolaji Abdullahi. I do tell people that care to listen that, in life, try as much as possible to get a political son like Bolaji Abdullahi.
He had the chance to neglect his benefactor but he chose the path of loyalty, and history will forever be kind to him. If he had done otherwise, the tenure too would go and the generation would not see anything to learn from.
Relying on the above analysis to the recent political activities as we tail towards the 2023 general election. It’s an irreversible fact that Asiwaju sacrificed his ambition for Yemi in order to have a Muslim/Christian ticket, if we are not a religious sycophant country, nothing would have stopped Asiwaju from pairing the same ticket with Buhari.
Asiwaju was left with no option but to choose between the lesser evil, he sided with Yemi because he thought he would be ‘loyal’, and being a religious person, he would understand the need to respect his benefactor decision than his own. But what we are seeing today is something Asiwaju did not 100 percent prepared for.
As a youth, I will prefer to lose everything to loyalty than winning everything and losing loyalty. People who have arrived are always looking for the younger ones to trust, someone with loyalty not only about competency. There are some assignments that the passed value only required Loyalty first and the surest way of testing loyalty is what one has stood for in the past. Let me say one antecedent and the school of trust.
One of the surest tests of virtue is the test for one’s loyalty. I understand clearly that loyalty is difficult same reason Babatunde Fashola prays that may our loyalty not be tested.
If you know you won’t be loyal, don’t ask for their help.
Written by Fatai Abiodun
ICT Expert | Journalist | Public Affairs Analyst | Tinubuist