Criticism in politics and the crisis of morality


By Muhammad Sagir Ibrahim

“Criticism” is described as the expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived fault or mistakes. In other words, it is seen as “the analysis and judgment of the merits and the fault of a literary or artistic work”.

Criticism in academic realm, is not a new thing. For, several scholars criticized the works of their predecessors or their contemporary scholars. None of the present or past scholars were immune from being criticised. And it makes no sense to assume that one is free from any form of criticism.

Adam Smith is described as the “Father of Economics”. But his works were not immune from being criticised by scholars that came after him, just as he fished out faults of some scholars too. Karl Marx criticised the ideas of Smith on the concept of private ownership, which he (Marx)  viewed as a means where the capitalist are enriched.  Therefore, criticism is an intellectual tool that opens up new frontiers for human development.

In the realm of politics, criticism is the pillar that keeps democracy flourishing, giving the governed the right to express contrary opinion, ask for accountability and respect for the rule of law. This can be done through lectures, writings, peaceful protest or other means that are not in conflict with the law of that particular society with civility.
But, how do we criticise the works of others?

Today, criticism is not far from abuses, insult and slander in politics. It is also part of criticism in politics to be insulted by someone old enough to be a son/daughter to the person he/she is criticizing. This is something obvious. That’s why some people describe politics as a dirty adventure that needs to be distanced by people of integrity.

During the recent medical trip of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians who are residing in London, protested to express their dissatisfaction over the medical trip by the president, who left dilapidated hospitals in his country for the poor masses to attend and took himself for a checkup in a first class medical facility abroad. In a viral video, one young lady was caught on camera spewing abuses and insults on the visiting president outside the gate of his London home. Alas, it takes a morally bankrupt upbringing for one to repeat her words due to its toxicity!

Although, I may be in total support to the protesters demand for good governance and provision of qualitative health centres in the country, and that,the president should act on the question he once asked in Chartam House, during his 2014 foreign trips to solicit the support of the major powers. President Buhari had said, “What is the difference between me and those who elected us to represent them, absolutely nothing. Why should a Nigerian president not fly with other Nigerians? Why do I need to embark on a foreign trip as a president with a huge crowd with public funds? Why do I need to go for foreign medical trip while we cannot make our hospitals functional?  Why do we need to send our children to school abroad if we cannot develop our university to compete with the foreign one’s?” 

Are Nigerian hospitals functional? Certainly no. Were Nigerian hospitals functional, the president would not have visited UK with public funds for his “ROUTINE MEDICAL CHECK UPS”. And also, if the “PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES” were functional, students would not have spent about a year at home due to ASUU strike. Therefore, the demands of the protesters are genuine, but their method of conveying the message is quite disheartening.

Every action is viewed from different perceptions by different people. So, the action of these protesters is viewed in many angles; some see it from political, moral, religious and ethnic angle. To the president’s political associates, the protest was an insult to their party’s hero, while to his opponents, it was an avenue of expressing their anger/frustration due to the president’s perceived incompetency!

To the president’s die-hard supporters, the Buharists, they believe that the actions of the protesters emanated from their deep hatred and enmity for the North and the Northerners! All the three perspective have one or two reason(s) to back their position. But to the patriotic  citizens that viewed things beyond political or religious point of view, they find it unacceptable to applaud the words of the protesters due to their vulgarity and lack of morality. 
They also view the act as an insult to Nigeria as a nation, where some certain individuals that fled from their families and loved one’s to reside in the UK are over there insulting their number one citizen. Even though, their residing in the UK may not be unconnected with the rate of unemployment bedevilling the nation, but the point here is that they could not endure what their brothers and sisters are today enduring in the country.

As such, criticism in itself is not a bad thing, but the critic’s choice of words is what gives the action a dented black and white colour. So, in whatever we do in the name of politics or religion, it should not cross the line of morality, for if it does, the beauty of the action might be overlooked, leaving only the ugly side of the action.
We wish President Buhari sound health, to return to the country and act expeditiously on the good demands of the protesters and allow them to go with their insults.
Long live Nigeria.

Ibrahim writes from Bauchi and can be reached via

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily


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