GOOD GOVERNANCE In The Development Philosophy of Anyiam-Osigwe

Adeleke Omotayo
Effective governance and development are two inseparable social concepts towards a functioning and viable socio-political structure. In this regard, Anyiam-Osigwe posits a holistic approach to development encompassing three important pillars: personal values, awareness and self-mastery as well the development of an adequate socio-political order which all have both spiritual and ethical components. Clearly, Anyiam-Osigwe has a palpable enthusiasm for the phenomenon of development. Osigwe’s, holistic approach covers the material, spiritual and moral planes of existence. Of the three pillars he directs more attention to the development of an adequate socio-political order, with special interest on the question of ethics and good governance.
Anyiam-Osigwe stresses the necessity of a body or system of moral rules entrenched in governance, a good governance at that. Moral values cannot be divorced from the practice of governance because human welfare which is the aim of government can be attained if those at the helm of power are solely guided by values. In explaining the connection between ethics and good governance Osigwe explicates both terms. He defines ethics as a set or system of moral principles, values or codes designed to guide human activities and relationships in any form of organisation within society. The term also refers to a branch of philosophy i.e. moral philosophy. Osigwe points out the complexity of the term “governance” in relation to its definition as the activities of a government or the process through which society or an organisation is administered or controlled. This makes government broad saddled with the functions of its arms (legislative, executive and judiciary). He further ascribes moral value on government as ‘good’ because it is effective in achieving its expectations or the ends consequently making this point teleological or utilitarian in nature. A good government’s policies are influenced by the perceived consequences they would bring on the people. Professor A B Ekanola identifies the utilitarian features of an efficient government as one that adequately protects and promotes the rights of citizens, provides for the general welfare and members of the society, proper management and distribution of available resources in the society. Also, when a system of governance is said to be good, it possesses a number of inherent qualities that makes it what it is. This definition is deontological so far it describes good governance as one which is in accordance as one which is in accordance with certain rules and duties, as well as rights. Anyiam-Osigwe claims that both moral and non-moral sense “good” governance can be understood in achieving the ideal ends of government. In the moral “good” perspective, the institution enhances human welfare to be qualified as good and bad if otherwise. For the non-moral sense, the goodness of governance is premised simply on its effectiveness in achieving stipulated end. The goal, however of both perspective is the facilitation of peace with harmony between people in society.
On the concept of governance, Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe highlights broad perspectives which are the inherent features which is deontological and the end of good governance that is utilitarian in nature. With regards to the first perspective Osigwe identifies accountability, transparency and justice as integral features of good governance. On the other hand he maintains a position that the ultimate end of good governance is holistic and sustainable human development which can be understood as a “complex of the spiritual, moral, economic, technical and socio-political enhancement of both the individual person and society”. According to him, the Group Mind Concept in his view is described as the meeting of minds with a common purpose to realise its full potentials. It is achieved when people of society combine their ideas, aspirations, views, knowledge, and experience in relation to specific goals or issues. For him the Group Mind Concept would induce in citizens a sense of belonging to their political community enabling individuals to promote the common good above personal goals. Hence, a system of governance can only be described as good if it brings out the evolution of a group mind which is important to attain holistic development. A pressing question Osigwe answers is how the group mind concept is possible which will produce holistic and sustainable development that he advocates as results of good governance. For him, there should be a careful identification and assessment of resources and potentials that are available to people with the aim of effectively developing them for the general welfare of all.
Furthermore, Osigwe describes the relationship between democracy, good governance and the emergence of a Group Mind. On the emergence of a Group Mind, a member of the society infuses his talent and resources along with his goals in that of the group guided by a conviction that the collective effort will yield higher satisfaction for himself and the community at large (common good). The right developmental policies by the governmental institutions therefore would translate the common good. This is an aspect where good governance is Instrumental. His conception of democracy is what appears to be a variant of socialist democracy which infiltrates pivotal aspect of the traditional African value system in governance. These values are both ethical and spiritual in nature which good governance must be based on. Osigwe opines that governance would be good if only leaders would imbibe the above values in their functions. He adopts the approach of KUAIPTED to address ignorance believed to pull development back and Impart Knowledge, Appreciation of the Implications and Practice of True and Enduring Democracy.
Osgiwe regards the advocacy for the fusion of traditional African moral and spiritual values with modern democratic principles but the questions is how do we revive the relevant moral and spiritual values that parallel domestic values before it translates good governance on the continent of Africa now when colonial experience has purged minds of basic traditions? Wiredu proposes a method of comparative analysis to how African values should be adopted with desirable western values for developmental purposes in contemporary African philosophy.
Osgiwe Anyiam-Osigwe clearly defines his concept of good governance as a step towards sustainable development in an African nation. He emphasize that the realization of good governance in a society must begin with the formation of morally good character traits in both the general citizenry and political elites. Without this, real democracy would remain obscure and good governance impossible. One could submit that if Osigwe’s conception of good governance is adopted universally the world’s political structure could be effective and we might experience a very significant decrease in the world’s most pressing socio-political problems, after it is critically examined though.
Feb. 2014


Published by: Omotayo

International citizen | Flippant Philosopher | Cartophille | Hobbyist Vexillologist | Recreational Physicist | International politics enthusiast | Lover of history | Compulsive Teetotaler | Proud African. My area of correspondence is quite dynamic as much as I'm interested.

Categories Philosophy