Why probe previous administrations? Serving justice or serving excuses

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probe previous administrations

From several religious, academic and social institutions, Nigeria seems saturated with a hedonist influence of pleasure, consumption and acquisition. Propagating hedonism, Epicurus prescribed physical[1] pleasure as the only good[2] – let us eat today for tomorrow we shall die. In Nigeria, the ability to obtain these physical pleasures is determined by the amount of money one has accumulated. It is then believed that the more an individual accumulates money, the better he becomes, and the lesser the money, the worse he becomes. Hence, some governments continue to probe previous administrations with hope of punishing them by reducing their accumulated wealth.

Legitimate governments are formed by the agreement of the people to be governed by a body they have chosen. The governing body is organized to coordinate human activities and relations in their environment for peace and progress. The governing body facilitates adequate education of citizens for specific roles in collaboration, productivity, security and sustenance of the society. Plato opines that social good is fulfilment of one’s role/duty to the society[3], while Aristotle prescribed virtue[4][5] as the highest social good. But when hedonism captures a society, instead of virtue or duty, everything is measured by immediate pleasure and consumerism.


Presently, Nigeria seems addicted to immediate pleasure and consumption of various imported trends and products, far above local productivity. Hence, the quest for money (foreign exchange) has become paramount in the daily disposition of the country. Many religious, academic, traditional and civil leaders join the foreign exchange frenzy for importing pleasure and consumerism. New regimes swiftly join the foreign exchange frenzy in order to import amenities as part of their campaign promises. They often decide to probe previous administrations to recover loots for obtaining the foreign amenities they promised during campaign.


Hence, it may be good to probe previous administrations, especially those who are suspected to have looted the country’s treasury because:

  • It could help the government recover some of the loots for providing social amenities
  • It could bring justice to the nation by punishing, jailing and shaming the looters
  • It could discourage other people from looting the national treasury
  • It could increase the credibility and integrity of the present administration


On the contrary, devoting so much energy to probe previous administrations may not be wise:

  • It distracts the government and people from optimally managing the available resources for producing what they need for sustenance and profit.
  • The cost in time and resources could be used to reorganize the society and seal off leakages.
  • It does not guarantee justice. Justice is the establishment of truth about people’s rights and obligations in their interaction within the society.[6] Unfortunately, the foundation of Nigeria was not laid on truth, but on colonial slaughter, suppression and home-assisted exploitation. Hence, the notion of justice in Nigeria is influenced and forcefully imposed on the society by pro-colonial force-bearers. This does not deny the presence of corruption and official theft, but emphasizes the absence of a legitimate foundation for justice.
  • Instead of discouraging corruption, the constant publicity of looting for happiness advertises it more than the virtuous means to happiness. Since there is no corresponding publicity of virtue against hedonism, the social and cyberspace is filled with thoughts of looting. Soon people will desire to try it out, just to be known, even when they do not succeed in looting.
  • Increased efforts to probe previous administrations and supposed enemies may not increase the credibility of present governments. Instead, for every fictional enemy it destroys, present governments creates two or more enemies out of possible allies. In a society without initial agreement, it divides the society along ethnic and religious lines, and causes unnecessary tensions.
  • Extensive efforts to probe previous administrations inflicts historical, present and future damage on people’s mentality about government and themselves. The people begin to suspect one another at every instance, making productive collaboration much more difficult.
  • It demoralizes good people within the society and exposes the society to external negative publicity, ridicule and hostility.


Despite the urge to publicly probe previous administrations, progressive Nigerian administrations will redirect the society’s attention to collaboration for productivity.

  • They will discuss and cooperate with Nigeria’s ethnic groups and communities to reorganize Nigeria and utilize its local resources for production, instead of importing the hedonists’ pleasure and consumerism.
  • They will redirect the social consciousness from hedonism to virtue by frequently identifying, publicizing and rewarding better social standards. These are standards like collaborative productivity, integrity, excellence, selfless leadership at different levels and other healthy qualities for social growth.
  • They will provide a way out of shame and guilt for those who were lured into the hedonist greed. Hence, former government officers could return their loots through donation of schools, industries and other progressive entities for the society.
  • Natural resource is like a farm that continues to produce crops, instead of a store where every item can be looted away. What makes a good farm manager is not the ability to recover the loots of the previous manager, but his ability to manage and secure the farm for higher productivity


Seeking pleasure and enjoying the beautiful goods and services of life are not bad, but good for encouraging producers and being healthy to perform one’s roles in the society. Seeking pleasure becomes problematic when the means and extent of seeking pleasure start affecting the seeker and other people negatively. Yet, those whose means of pleasure have affected others are not demons to be killed, but humans to be enlightened. The factual truth is that they looted public funds, but the practical truth is that they need enlightenment and opportunities to pursue happiness through virtue. The opportunity is the chance to collaborate with other people in utilizing local resources for production, sustenance and profit, when a better social standard has been set.


In conclusion, instead of devoting much time to probe previous administrations, a good government redirects the focus of the society from pleasure and consumerism to social productivity by publicizing and rewarding social virtues. Probing previous administrations can be a distraction for a government with good agenda, or an excuse for a government without agenda.



[1] By physical pleasure, he meant pleasures derived from “taste, touch, hearing, sight smell” … Derek Johnston, A brief history of philosophy (London: MPG Books Ltd, 2006) p.46

[2] Derek Johnston, A brief history of philosophy (London: MPG Books Ltd, 2006) p.43, 46

[3] Plato, “Republic” In A brief history of philosophy by Derek Johnston (London: MPG Books, 2006) p.22

[4] Aristotle, “Nichomachean ethics”, Bk 1, 13 in Introduction to Philosophy, Edited by John Perry, et al. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007) p.576

[5] Virtue is the habit of doing good, not because others are watching or reward is coming, but because it is good

[6] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, “Why was I born Nigerian” in Restartnaija  https://restartnaija.com/2017/09/09/why-was-i-born-nigerian/ retrieved 13th February, 2018