The intellectual in a society is that schooled or educated individual who beyond the average person in that same society engages in critical thinking, reflection and some research to come up with provoking analysis of societal state of affairs, identified opportunities and strategic propositions on consolidation as well as pinpointed challenges and realistic solutions to societal problems.
For the fact that politics strives for power to govern the society, the specialized activities of the so called intelligentsia and the practice of politics overlap at several points and ultimately connect. It must however be noted that the intelligentsia and the political class are clearly distinguishable.
Another distinction pertinent to this discourse is the clear separation between the intelligentsia and the academic. The academic being the intellectual scholar in and around citadels of learning and allied institutions and advancing knowledge and development in their marked fields through research and facts-based scholarly discourses of diverse kinds, are not necessarily part of the so called intelligentsia though it’s in society’s better interest that the reverse is the case.
To be clearer, and to start cracking the nut of this discourse, I will go back to clarifying on my delineation of the intelligentsia. The intellectuals who deliberately participate in the public affairs discourses and societal opinionation in addition to their academic careers are termed public intellectuals and constitute the core of the intelligentsia.
According to scholarly experts, regardless of their field and professional expertise, public intellectuals respond to the normative problems of their social milleu and are expected to be impartial, rising well above the partial preoccupation of their professions and engage with global issues of truth, social equity and justice. So, until the Prof leaves his primary comfort zone and ventures into the public domain in a deliberate manner to influence with his intellectual capabilities, he is not in the intelligentsia. And here, I must opine that it is a great disservice to both themselves and the society for certain key intellectuals to disconnect from the intelligentsia especially in a desperate society like ours or indeed, any one society that struggles against existential threats like Nigeria. It’s actually time to speak up and speak up intelligently in Nigeria!
It is insanity to die of a sickness with the antidote in one’s pocket all along!
This takes me to the next nagging conjecture. In a nation perishing under largely mediocre rule of dulled minds for most of its existence, should the Nigerian intelligentsia still be on the sidelines? My unambiguous answer is a capital NO! Why should we continue to subscribe to being ruled by idiots when the better alternatives abound. Why must the educated class continue to be subjugated by crazy criminals in the name of politics?! Why continue to embrace nonchalant government leadership under which the average citizen appears more solutions-savvy than the President, VP, Ministers or Governors for any reason at all?!
But expertise in socio-political understanding, economy and public administration without the capacity to connect the emerging influence to the grassroots is recurrent intelligence-noise and academic research and labor in ceaseless futility! This is because though politics has accomodations for the intelligentsia, they are clearly not the same. And this
remains the tragedy of our intelligentsia!
Unless and until the intelligentsia combines the intellect with political pragmatism it will continue to find access to power elusive and be ineffective to society!
Political power is a game of numbers: every one seems to know this, including the political class and the educated elite. While the educated elite with it’s utopian ideals articulates and ejaculates decent propositions, the politicians go for the jugular! Before long, strategically manipulated idiots in their uncanny majority are sealing everyone’s fate in so called landslide victories at orchestrated polls! The educated is beaten hands down again, the cycle goes on, the frustrations abate not!
Then, ever clever politicians “dignify” their ascension with political office offers to select intellectuals – another one of their political strategies! But the intellectual so appointed failing as usual to see it as such, soon discovers to their own chagrin that the reality is different from their own ethical dreams of real opportunity for societal transformation! Those choosing to uphold professionalism and personal integrity find means and ease themselves out of the contrapment, while others, less civil and noble opt to enjoy the gratis with eyes of decency and responsibility shut deliberately!
Therefore, it has become obvious for long enough that for Nigeria’s resources to be maximally utilized for the majority of our peoples, most equitably, for their total well being and common societal advancement, and for national dignity in the comity of global nations, which ought to be and must be the focus of the political power holders, then the Nigerian political class must become more populated and eventually dominated by the intellectual class as is now emerging in the new world including some African trail blazers like Rwanda.
Any activism not strategically directed to this transformational cause will perpetuate the tiring, stifling and frustrating status quo of the unfortunate docility of the educated class and a regrettable waste of those so educated!
I remember Chief Dr Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo with particular fondness and admiration (amongst many others after him) for being a worthy antecedent of the practicability and feasibility of the intelligentsia in political class to accomplish the difference Nigerian masses clamor for!
The tormenting reality of him being popularly designated as ” the best President Nigeria never had” is a strong indication of the need for my Noble call through this write up. If Nigeria shall be salvaged, our intellectual class must now rise to the occasion and stop idiots voting idiots to rule us! O su mi o!
Godservant Tunde Kolajo