Skip to content

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s Political Philosophy: Implications for Nigeria 


Maraizu Elechi, PhD Department Of General Studies Port Harcourt Polytechnic Rumuola Port Harcourt 08038954871 


One of the main claims of Aristotle’s political philosophy is that politics and moral education weave an intricate relationship. The major significance of this relationship lies in the provision of the good life, wellbeing and happiness of man, as well as the development of the human society. Politics, for Aristotle, has the responsibility of ensuring or bringing about the moral education of the citizenry. It inculcates moral virtue in the citizens, making it possible for them to be first and foremost good citizens, and then, good rulers. When politics fails in this regard, Aristotle argues that its essence is dashed to the mud. Painfully, however, the way the Nigerian political society functions leaves one in doubt about the existence of morality and moral education among the citizens. This seeming conspicuous absence or neglect of moral education or development in Nigeria is responsible for why the country seems to have developed retrogressively, and therefore, precipitates this research. In recourse to Aristotle’s political ideals, this paper argues that proper application of the ethico-moral foundation of politics and education will restructure the battered state of affairs and guarantee the development of Nigeria. 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 453 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

Introduction There is certainly no doubt that Nigeria is plagued and battling with bristling problems and challenges of many kinds. These problems and challenges have their root or foundation in morality. There is a serious moral breakdown in the country. From daily experience, one is forced to conclude that the Nigerian society is a pernicious environment of numerous men and women of dubious integrity; people who are very active and prominent in doing disservice to their own country – unpatriotic fellows, insincere, selfish, corrupt and ill-intentioned leaders and citizens alike. It is contradicting that amidst these challenges, an average Nigerian seems docile and less concerned in the search for solution, yet hoping for better life and yearning for the development of the country. For, it is an illusion for anyone to think that a good society can be built on the foundation of immorality. We cannot talk about the good life, wellbeing, happiness of man and the development of the society (the cardinal essence of Aristotle’s civic-moral education) in spite of the steep decline of public morality in the country. 

The point being made is that morality is at the heart of the growth and development of any human civilization. Nigeria is no exception. The basic claim here is that Nigerians, or any group for that matter, in order to grow politically, socially, and economically, must be committed to sound moral principles. We are here boldly challenging anybody who tries to claim that success, efficiency, and improved performance in our social life must of necessity be inhuman and unethical. The issue of success, efficiency, improved productivity, high performance should no longer be separated from relevant ethical considerations (Nwodo 1998: 72-3). 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 454 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

The position is that political actions are meant to be guided morally in order to stimulate positive changes and speedily facilitate the development of the society. Morality thus serves as a binding force that will enhance and sustain such development without the society being enmeshed in socio-political turmoil and disarray. The absence of moral formation for instance has the tendency of creating serious vacuum in the subsequent overall development and performance and activity in a country. It has the propensity of affecting leadership in all facets including in government, education, business etc. The moral commitment or commitment to moral principles by Nigerians is an essential element to enduring sustainable development of the country. Morality should be made to serve as the basis or foundation of all we do since it is at the basis or heart of the growth and development of any human civilization (Nwodo 1998: 71-72). It is ridiculous and paradoxical that Nigeria, a country widely perceived as “great” and acclaimed a “giant” in view of her abundant human and natural resources, is at the same time, one of the poorest countries of the world. This is consequent upon abysmal absence of moral education, or better put, the separation of morality from politics in our political system and activities. Nigeria is a country where social and political strands of the public life of most of her politicians and leaders have been disengaged from morality; a country where values and morality are eroded and made dysfunctional. Our governments are made up of national treasury looters; men and women who get involved in politics to enrich themselves, their cronies, family members, kindred, clan, and region of origin by looting national treasury without conscience. The point is that “Remove morality from politics and what are governments but gangs of thieves and treasury looters on a large scale” (Omoregbe 2008:130), and the underdevelopment of the country. ‘Post election violence’, violent demonstration, wilful destruction of lives and property, rigging, and buying of people’s conscience during election experienced in Nigeria are all signs of lack of moral education. 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 455 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

From Aristotelian perspective, however, moral education of the citizenry is an important remedy for political instability. It is an antidote to anti-political and social practices of any sort. Aristotle makes it crystal clear that the foregoing scenarios are not elements or characteristics of politics and its lineaments or meaning; they are rather misnomer, absurd, aberration and contradiction to the meaning of politics. The meaning and essence of politics for Aristotle is in guaranteeing peace, stability, prosperity and the wellbeing of the people in the most proper ethico-moral sense. 

In consideration of the above, this research shall be tailored in four main parts. In the first part, we shall try to articulate Aristotle’s relationship between politics and ethics. This will help us to establish a solid background framework of the research; thus, paving the way for the second part, which clarifies the main essence or aim of politics, namely human good, wellbeing and happiness. The third part constitutes the central idea of this research; it examines the relationship between politics and moral education of the citizenry. The fourth part of this research applies Aristotle’s ideals as saliently exposed and analyzed in the previous parts to Nigeria. There will be a holistic evaluation and conclusion of the research in the final part of the paper. 

Politics and Morality: A Search for Relationship Every genuine understanding and practical underpinnings of politics must be accessed through ethics or morality. This means that politics has an ethico-moral preliminary basis. Aristotle’s thought in this regard is not distinct; he sets out conceptual requirements of politics to include among others, ethics, vis-à-vis moral education. This, he considers as a firm foundation of politics. For one thing, the character moulding of the citizens, he sees as a major reason for politics and a feature of an ideal state. He holds that the responsibility of character moulding rests upon the state. This, he believes will be achieved through moral education since the citizen will first and foremost be trained to be a good soldier, then a good ruler and magistrate. Education, Aristotle claims, must begin with the body (since it, 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 456 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

(the body), develops earlier than the soul) for the sake of the soul and, the appetites for the sake of reasoning. By this, Aristotle implies that unless the state is good and the system of its education is rational, healthy and moral, the citizens will not be good for the same things are good for both individuals and states. The moral and intellectual ideas of the individuals are reflected in the outlook and organization of the society. 

Aristotle’s famous work, Nicomachean Ethics lends credence to the above. It commences with the startling suggestion that the art that treats of ethics is politics. The basic supposition on which politics and ethics depends is as we have observed above that they are concerned with the wellbeing and happiness of man as a human being who is a social being, and who is often dependent on others at every stage of life for existence; the fulfilment of physical, political, emotional, social, intellectual, and even spiritual needs. In the complete sense or understanding, both politics and ethics are prescriptive and normative since both indicate how humans ought to act or behave in order to build or achieve a perfect society. However, the starting point to understand the relationship between politics and ethics could possibly be enhanced when one adequately understands the link between Aristotle’s two major works: the Politics and Nicomachean Ethics. Ross thinks in like manner when he writes: 

The complete science of ‘Politics’ falls into two parts which may for convenience be called ethics and politics. Aristotle’s ethics, no doubt, are social, and his politics are ethical; he does not forget in the Ethics that the individual man is essentially a member of society, nor in the Politics that the good life of the state exists only in the good lives of the citizens (1964:187). Aristotle’s politics is an extension of his ethics such that to understand the former, one must clearly decipher the later. Aristotle writes in the beginning of the Nicomachean Ethics that the art that treats ethics is politics, while at the beginning of his Politics was also the establishment of 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 457 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

this link as well as the importance of a well morally constructed city or state in making it possible for the citizens to live well and harmonious with one another. Aristotle argues that a person cannot be complete unless he lives in a political community or society. Just as it is part of human nature to seek happiness and abhor pains, it is also part of human nature to live in a political society to be happy. While the state which is the highest form of community exists for the sake of the good and happy life, politics as a correlate with the state must be aimed at promoting the wellbeing of the people. Politics and ethics thus become Siamese twins, since they have the same object – human wellbeing and happiness. The point here is that politics applies moral principles to the state while ethics applies those principles to the individual. So, politics is ethics enlarged or written large. As practical sciences, politics and ethics deal with human beings as moral agents. But whereas politics is concerned with the actions of human beings in communities as they relate to leadership or ruling, ethics is primarily concerned with the actions of human beings as individuals. Whereas ethics is basically concerned with the general and particular behaviour of human beings in the ordering of such acts that lead to common good, politics is concerned with the human being in his or her relationship to the state. The role of ethics is, therefore, to provide an environment which makes it possible for one to live a good life and participate in politics in a correct way; politics conversely makes it possible for people to live fully human, ethical and happy lives. This is why Aristotle insists that: 

We become just by the practice of just actions, self-controlled by exercising self-control, and courageous by performing acts of courage… Lawgivers make the citizens good by inculcating [good] habits in them… (Nicomachean Ethics 1103a30). Another supposition, upon which Aristotle’s politics and ethics are based, is dependent on the rationality or intelligibility of the political society. Aristotle argues that the political society is a rational whole with 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 458 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

purposes and functions for its members. He argues in both his Politics and Ethics that ultimate good for the human being is a life lived according to virtue and in contemplation of the highest truths. He defines happiness, the ultimate end for human beings as activity of the soul according to virtue. His political views are inextricably linked to his emphasis on virtue and reason in relation to the ultimate good for man. Aristotle acknowledges that becoming virtuous can only be achieved under the right condition, that is, within a well constructed political community through education which prescribes certain actions and prohibits others. Writing on the purpose of ethics, Aristotle asserts that: 

The purpose of the present study [of morality] is not, as it is in other inquiries, the attainment of theoretical knowledge: we are not concluding this inquiry in order to know what virtue is, but in order to become good, else there would be no advantage in studying it (Nicomachean Ethics 1103b25). In the same vein, Aristotle makes available to us the purpose or goal of politics: 

The end [or goal] of politics is the best of ends; and the main concern of politics is to engender a certain character in the citizens and to make them good and disposed to perform noble actions (Nicomachean Ethics 1099b30). Meanwhile, our argument is basically that ethics expresses itself as politics. By this, we do not emphatically mean that ethics is automatically or ideologically politics. We rather mean that ethics expresses itself for us in the most proper sense as direct participatory politics. This implies that political activity rather than policies or institutions, functions as ethical ground. Ethics in the classical sense requires politics as the venue of its correct practice. It is politics inasmuch as the achievement of human good, wellbeing or happiness remains its paramount goal. 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 459 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

Human Good, Wellbeing and Happiness In Aristotle’s conception, politics and ethics are categorized under practical science; they are concerned with good or noble actions or happiness of the citizens. They offer fulfilment not only of living, but of living well in accordance with the moral virtues. Politics, for Aristotle can be justified with reference to some standard of human good, wellbeing and happiness To start with, the discovery of this human good – both what it is and how to get it – is the ambitious task that Aristotle sets himself in both the Politics and the Nicomachean Ethics. Accordingly, he begins the Ethics with an approving reference to the good. “Every art and every inquiry and similarly every action and pursuit is thought to aim at some good.” Consequently, “the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim” (Nicomachean Ethics 1094a1-3). In Book 1, section 2 of the Nicomachean Ethics, he sees the highest good to belong to the science of politics. According to him “The attainment of the good for one man alone is, to be sure, a source of satisfaction; yet to secure it for a nation and for states is nobler and more divine”. Likewise in the Politics, he writes that what makes an association stand or qualified as a polis is that it aims at the highest good. For him, “Every association is established with a view to some good; the polis, the state or the political community, which is the highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at the highest good” (Politics 1984b; 1252a1). This means that politics has as its object or goal the highest and most commanding good. This object is not something accidental, suggested by the chance desires of the individuals or politicians. It is not conceived as something that will be produced after all the political activities are concluded. It is also not what we intend to bring about when we engage in politics. It is rather what is articulated in political praxis. It is what comes with politics: a part and parcel of it. It is nothing short of the final object of human life. 

For us in modern times, ‘human good’ or ‘good life’ is an ideal to be realized; it is out there waiting to be achieved. But for Aristotle, it is not an ideal at all; it is in the first place, a kind of life, namely, the life of those 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 460 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

who act virtuously in the polis. The good life is inseparably inherent in politics. It is part and parcel of the meaning and essence of politics. It is not a set of preferences people have in mind when entering the political arena. It is what circulates in a polis with a proper constitution such that its absence automatically entails or means the absence of politics. In fact, its absence is an aberration and a contradiction to the essence, meaning and understanding of politics. Hence, the highest good is to politics what the object is in experimental science: neither something in the mind, nor anything out there that lies waiting to be discovered and described, but something that is constituted, articulated and that circulates in politics and its practice that meets the real or ideal meaning and condition. 

In Aristotle’s conception therefore, politics is not a matter of personal interest or the quest for the realization of selfish preferences. It is rather an articulate effort or commitment to make the people attain the object of politics – ‘the highest good’, or ‘the good life’. Thus, to understand politics is to understand the object that is aimed at and how this object is brought about in praxis. This object of politics brings about happiness and excitement among the people. 

Secondly, the goal of politics coincides with that of ethics, namely, to bring about the wellbeing of man. Questions of wellbeing are ultimately questions about how one ought to live that are in turn derived from certain purportedly natural facts about human wants, needs and interests. It is argued that without some conception of what benefits a person and what makes life worth living, moral and political actions would be rendered vacuous. Hence, virtue is recommended for its ability both to promote and sustain healthy or flourishing state of character. However, at this point, we think it will be most appropriate to purse briefly to demonstrate what in real and practical terms Aristotle means when he talks about “wellbeing” of the citizens. The popular sense of the term “wellbeing” usually relates to being healthy or being in good health in the sense of the word “wellness”. Under this sense, wellbeing has to do with the natural biological individual wellness or stability; a state of being in good health. Here, we can speak of 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 461 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

the wellbeing of someone who is sick; someone who is in a terrible pains or agony. Even in the sense of “wellness” we can also speak of the wellness of any political society that is laden with crude and anti-political practices like that of Nigeria. This is typical of the pre-political society, a society that was sick with human lives “miserable, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. The wellness or therapy of such society, Thomas Hobbes tells us, is the manifestation of politics which brings about or ensures peace, order, security and commodious living or good life, wellbeing and happiness of the people. This means that the absence of politics is the presence of anarchy, insecurity and disorder. Philosophically, the scope of the meaning of wellbeing is more often wider or comprehensive. Here, wellbeing is most commonly used to describe what are ultimately good for a person’s whole life. It relates to how well one is in relation to living a good or fine life. This is an organic nature and desire of every man. Aristotle’s emphasis of wellbeing as the essence of politics and the state simply implies that political society has the responsibility to provide the basic necessities or requirements that will make man live a good and comfortable life. Just as it is the duty of the physician to ensure the wellness of his patient, the wellness of the political society depends on politics and the politician while the wellbeing of the members of the political society is the essence of politics and the task of the political society. We can therefore conclude that Aristotle’s politics is holistically speaking, the politics of wellbeing. The attainment or enhancement of human wellbeing is the primary concern of both politics and ethics. 

The relationship between politics and happiness, in Aristotelian position is simply that politics, just like ethics, cannot avoid addressing directly questions of human happiness. To define human happiness, Aristotle maintains that one must look at man’s highest function, the function which man can perform with his highest faculty alone. This function which is unique to man is the activity of the soul according to reason. Aristotle thus sees the happiness of man as naturally flowing from his well performed action. He goes further to define happiness, the ultimate 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 462 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

end for human beings, as the activity of the soul according to virtue. Virtue, he says, is the moral and intellectual ability that is always needed in a “statesman” and political leader who rules in the interests of the state, or the entire community. Aristotle is unequivocal in his position that a ruler must possess a high level of moral and intellectual education to be fit to rule or hold public office in his turn and behave himself when it is not his turn. In a nutshell, what Aristotle is saying is that the moral worth or value of any political action can only be assessed insofar as it contributes to our happiness, welfare, or what Aristotle calls by the comprehensive term eudaimonia. Aristotle’s political thought as a matter of fact recommends politics and morality prudentially as means to happiness. He sees virtue as desirable, as a means to attaining human good, wellbeing and happiness. 

Politics as Moral Education Aristotle’s primary understanding of education or better put, moral education, is that it is collateral of politics. The implication of this is that political life enables one to grow in virtue. Politics is the instrument whereby human beings come to lead a good life; it has the moral development of the citizens as its objective. Aristotle understands politics in its functioning as an educational instrument with the primary objective to inculcate the values of civic virtues and promote the progress of the constitution through positively moulding the character of the citizens and making political regimes last. The reason for which such education is necessary is that it helps the citizens to see the elements of justice and therefore be more sympathetic to competing claims of justice from the part of the regime which do not have power, as well as ensure that factional conflict is avoided. Education therefore is the most vital and important source of stability of the state. Aristotle argues that citizens should be formidably trained or educated to become first and foremost, good subjects and thus good rulers. He argues that “the legislator must, therefore, make the education of the young his object above all would be disputed by no one” (Politics 1337a10). Education of the citizens is according to him the 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 463 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

springboard for the proper development of the political society, hence, the responsibility of the state. The state or political society has the duty or task of conducting and supervising education properly for success to be attained. Politics as an instrument, enables human beings come to lead a good life. It must first and foremost be moral education since the citizen will first and foremost be trained to be a good soldier, then a good ruler and magistrate (Politics 1332b -13333a16). It has the moral development of citizens as its objective. Salkever (1974) puts it thus: “Aristotle sees the polis as having its purpose to develop moral intelligence and the transformation of the citizen into a moral being (82). In corroboration with the above claim, Copleston argues that: 

Education must begin with the body, since the body and its appetites develop earlier than the soul and its faculties; but the body is to be trained for the sake of the soul and the appetites for the sake of the reason. Education is therefore first and foremost, a moral education… (1946:357). It must be noted that when Aristotle talks about education, he simply refers to an ethico-moral civic education that imbues the values of creativity, excellence and individual achievement. This kind of education trains the emotions and impulses in the individual, inculcates moral, social and civic qualities in the individual and develops habits of good citizenship and good individuals. It is a kind of education that produces and enhances an ordered polity or political order. Through this kind of education, individuals receive the kind of training and experience necessary for ruling. This is why Joad writes that the final aim of this education lies in goodness, that is, to make our immediate judgment as to what is right to coincide with the spirit of wise legislation (1966:91). We can understand here that Aristotle’s insistence on education is based or derived from Socratic belief that “Virtue is knowledge”, implying that to know good is to do it. At this point one would want to know the difference between Aristotle’s kind of education and what obtains here and now in 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 464 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

Nigeria. Such difference to our mind has to do with the curriculum. Aristotle framed an educational curriculum that would “impart moral education rather than a study of political science. What he sought was rather a frame of mind which will respond in a just, responsible and self manner to public issues” (Heater 1990:6). Aristotle’s curriculum aims at fostering and protecting a way of learning that sustains and encourages vast and diverse knowledge of practical socio-political and moral experience or activities. It goes beyond mere theories and memorisation of people’s opinions and common beliefs; rather, it is tailored in such a way whereby individuals learn, develop and acquire skills largely by doing or practice. Contrarily, Nigerian education curriculum is not structured in such a way that practice is highly emphasized. The outcome of this is the turning out of some graduates who are not employable because they lack practical skills necessary for employment. They cannot fit snugly into self engagement because they lack the required entrepreneurial skills. How often do we hear of medical students in Nigerian Universities who have never studied with nor dissected cadaver for the purposes of understanding human anatomy; or a graduate of computer science who has never seen nor operated a computer system throughout the period of his studentship? Practice is an effective way of achieving perfection. It is in response to the inadequate or absence of moral education in education curriculum in Nigeria that Amaele observes that the educational system in our country is unfortunately not developed to meet the present challenges, the need for social, political and moral order. According to him, 

The school environment is too volatile for any moral training, the teachers do not show enough evidence as moral agents, the curriculum does not give due theoretical and practical opportunities for the moral advancement of both teachers and learners. The government and proprietors of schools are yet to adopt holistic approach to quality 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 465 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

supervision of schools. Hence, the child goes to school and comes back morally debased (2012:94). To subscribe to the above view, Adeoye thinks that moral education is the solution to youth vices and other value breakdown in Nigeria. According to him, one apparent cause of value breakdown in Nigeria is the absence of moral education, the cause of which arises from the refusal of government and education curriculum planners to accord moral education its required curriculum content (2004:333). The plethora of vices that have permeated our society necessitates the urgent need for moral education, to accord it a prime place in our education curriculum for our schools, colleges and universities. 

Aristotle’s view implies that unless the state is good and the system of its education is rational, healthy and moral, the citizens will not be good for the same things are good for both individuals and state. The intellectual and moral ideas of the individuals are reflected in the outlook and organization of the society. Through the exercise of education the statesman or politician inculcates and perfects the virtues of justice, moderation, and courage, as well as prudence (Politics 1277b 25-26). 

Implications and Evaluation Civic-Moral education is the most vital aspect of socio-political and economic engineering. It is one of the elements of Aristotle’s political philosophy that must be taken seriously if Nigeria must develop. One of its segments that should be applied in Nigeria is the virtue of moderation; especially in consideration of the fact that it appears that most Nigerians do not know what it means to live a moderate life. Most Nigerians believe that happiness would be impossible without riches and wealth and pleasure. But this is a fundamental mistake that obviously results to sporadic looting, extortion, large scale embezzlement, increase in crime rate, bribery, injustice, corruption, robbery, maiming, prostitution, profligacy, etc in the country. Actions such as these would never bring about happiness; on the 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 466 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

contrary, they are notorious for bringing about social, economic and political ills. For, a happy man is one who lives a moderate life, wanting neither many things at a time nor preferring poverty, but living a temperate life. Since human beings are moral and intellectual or rational beings, the good of humans, hence, is to reason well and live a life of virtue. This is so because part of the task of reason is to enable human beings act virtuously. Thus the good for human persons is the exercise of their faculties in accordance with virtue, to live a temperate life, which constitute his moral nature. Certainly not in wanting excess wealth by way of corruption or bribery as is rampart in Nigeria, but in being contented with what one has. (Ewuoso 2012:18). 

The above takes us to the issue of prudence, another benefit or aspect of moral education. The fact that the Nigerian national landscape is strewn with the carcasses of failed, abandoned and still-born policies, projects and programmes, too numerous to mention is the result of imprudence (Ewuoso 2012:18). At this stead, let us take a few paragraphs to make a few points on the concept of prudence before assessing its place in the Nigerian polity. As a moral virtue, prudence is attributed by Aristotle as a key to successful politics and leadership. It deals with the capacity to bring diverse kinds of information to bear on a decision to act. It is the ability to govern and discipline oneself in order to secure the best things attainable to man by the use of reason. It offers technical knowledge about what existing political circumstances are and ethical knowledge about what is good for humans generally. Prudence requires foresight, the capacity to estimate, with a sure, dependable and accurate direction for the future. A prudent leader is conscious whether a particular action will lead to the realization or actualization of the good or not. This means that imprudence leads to inaccurate prediction of the consequences of action. This means that imprudence leads to inaccurate prediction of the consequences of action. A prudent politician’s or leader’s motive for any action begins with his general concept and understanding of the human good developed through pursuing the right kind of pleasure (Nicomachean Ethics 1151a16- 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 467 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

17; 1141b16-21). This motive, the ultimate end of action, is drawn towards a specific end by the apprehension of actual circumstances, and these circumstances set conditions to which one who would do good must conform. A prudent leader is supposed to tailor the technique of acquiring wealth to the service of human good. He is supposed to be a good manager who uses public wealth to serve the good of the people. He limits the resources or amount of wealth generated for the common good because prudence entails sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs. A prudent politician or leader knows not only how much wealth is conducive to the good of the household and state but also desires only that amount of wealth required. This means that prudence has moral and economic components. The role of moral virtue in prudence is to make sure that the irrational part of the soul, the will, submits to the authority of the intellect (Nicomachean Ethics 1102b12-1103a1). This implies that intellectual and moral components are required to enable prudence to fulfil its ruling function. It is an intellectual virtue that cannot be exercised without moral virtue. Hence, imprudence results if the rational side does not have an accurate knowledge of what is good or if the irrational side is not conditioned by habit to follow the rational side’s dictates. The economic component of prudence hinges on the fact that prudence requires skills and good judgment in the management and utilization of resources. 

The above must be understood and internalized by politicians and leaders in Nigeria especially those of them who find pleasure in grandiose living and extravagance. They purchase private jets and acquire state-of- the-art automobiles with high-ranking buildings in the face of increasing poverty in the land; when the vast majority of the populace is wallowing in penury, abject poverty and deprivation, our political leaders live in opulence. A prudent leader, Aristotle says, is supposed to tailor the technique of acquiring wealth to the service of human good. He is supposed to be a good manager who uses public wealth to serve the good of the people. He limits the resources or amount of wealth generated for the 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 468 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

common good because prudence entails sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs. Just like a prudent household manager (Politics 1256b27-29), he has technical knowledge about what existing political circumstances are and ethical knowledge about what is good for humans generally. 

The issue of bloated and ‘unrealistic budget’, and reckless spending in Nigeria is a sign of imprudence, and can no longer be tolerated. In Nigeria, sometimes budgetary provisions are made on projects that do not have any impact on the wellbeing of the people. In most cases, projects are abandoned simply because they were awarded by the leader who is no longer in office or power. For selfish reasons, the new leader who has emerged would not want to continue and complete the pending projects of his predecessor before the new ones will be awarded. Rather, similar projects will be re-awarded again leading to duplication of projects. There is no continuity in plans and project execution. This is nothing but imprudence in the management of the resources of the nation. It is only when the realization of the common good becomes the interest of the members of the state that people would ordinarily not want to divert the wealth that is meant for the development of the political society. Consequently, corruption and political selfishness will be eradicated from its root as people would begin to think less of themselves and more of others and political community in general. The point is that imprudence and corruption cause the malfunctioning of the political society; they impair integrity, virtue and moral principle (Odumakin 2010:34). They are synonymous to moral decay, uncleanness, want of character and value deterioration which not only debases but also destroys a nation’s integrity, innovations, democratic structures and development (Kuta 2010:36). 

Another relevance and implication that should be underscored in Aristotle’s conception of politics and moral education has to do with “acting nobly”, an act that includes truth-telling, promise keeping, a greater depth of commitment and willingness for self-sacrifice. This is a very important lesson that all Nigerians including the leaders and politicians 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 469 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

must understand and imbibe. The rate at which Nigerians tell lies and do not keep to agreements or promises is very alarming. The politicians are highly rated in this regard. Falsehood and deceit play great role in almost all their dealings with the public, with very small space left for truth. During electioneering campaigns almost all political promises are built on lies and on lies are their stewardships crafted. It is in this connection that we hear citizens calling them liars, pen robbers, and selfish people. Politics by its ideal nature predisposes the political leader and politician to undergo some form of deprivation for the purpose of enhancing the wellbeing and achieving the happiness of his people. This constitutes first and foremost the task of a true politician, leader or statesman. Contrary to self-imposition and selfishness, politics entails paying attention to the needs and interests of others. Selfless leadership has its merit on both the leader himself and the national life of the country. According to Achebe, 

One shining act of bold selfless leadership at the top, such as unambiguous refusal to be corrupt or tolerate corruption at the fountain of authority will radiate powerful sensations of well-being and pride through every nerve and artery of national life (1983:17). There is no doubt that Aristotle’s political thought would serves as a rescue operation to Nigeria’s problem of bad leadership or governance. The fact that it is not in doubt that the greatest problem of Nigeria as a nation rests on leadership makes Aristotle’s postulation in this regard relevant. 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 470 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

Conclusion The most important factor in the education of the citizen is the moral education, without which all other provisions of the constitution, good as they may be, cannot be realized. Responsible and effective moral education for the citizens is the remedy for all manner of ‘political recklessness’ and instability. And it is the responsibility of the state, the government to provide and control such education. Nigeria must take seriously the issue of the moral education of its citizens otherwise the country will end up developing retrogressively. Such education should also aim at ensuring that the citizens acquire the ideals of being human in the most proper sense, instead of dwelling on the illusion that a good society can be built on the foundation of immorality. It is only when Nigerians internalize the ideals of moral education that we can be sure of good governance, political stability, social well-being and the general development of the country. Nigerians must have a rethink and live a life of discipline, patriotism, moderation, transparency and frugality, and deliberately put an end to corruption, embezzlement and the greedy desire for more, since good life or happiness can only be attained through the human acts which must conform to the right moral order. When this is neglected, the effect would continue to be chaos, anarchy, doom and ‘bad-life’. 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 471 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

Works Cited Aristotle. (1962). Politics. trans T.A. Sinclair. Bungay: Penguin Books. ———–. (1947). Nicomachean Ethics. trans W.D. Ross in Introduction to 

Aristotle (ed.) by Richard Mckeon. New York: Random House Inc. Achebe, C. (1983). The Trouble with Nigeria. Enugu: Fourth Dimension Publishers. Adeoye, J.A. (2004). “The Nigerian Educational System: Value Added Teaching for National Development” in The Nigerian Academy of Education 19th Annual Congress (22nd-26th). Lagos: Lagos State University. Amaele, S. (2012). “Strategies for Moral Revival among the Youths of Etche Ethnic Nationality” in Studies in Etche: A Journal of Contemporary Studies in Etche. Vol.2. Copleston, F. (1946). A History of Philosophy: Greece and Rome. vol.1. London: 

Continuum. Ewuosu, C.O. (2012). Aristotle’s Political Theory of the Good Life: The Nigerian 

Case Study. Enugu: Oak Publishers Ltd. Heater, D. (1990). Citizenship: the Civic Ideal in World History, Politics and 

Education. London: Orient Longman. Joad, C.E.M. (1966). Philosophy. New York: Premier Books. Kuta, D. (2010, January 6). “Legislature’s Role in the Fight Against 

Corruption in Nigeria”. in Daily Sun Newspaper. Nwodo, C.S. (1998). “Political Stability and Social-wellbeing in Aristotle’s Political Philosophy: Its Relevance to the Nigerian Situation.” Africa: philosophy and Public Affairs. Ed J. Obi Oguejiofor. Enugu: Delta Publications Ltd. Odumakin, J. (2010, January 13). “Effective Civil Society Groups and the 

Fight Against Corruption”. Daily Sun. Omoregbe, J. (2008). Ethics: A Systematic and Historical Study. Lagos: Joja Press Ltd. Ross, D. (1964). Aristotle. London: Methuen and Co. Ltd. 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 472 

Port Harcourt Journal Of History & Diplomatic Studies | 

Salkever, S.G. (1974). “Virtue, Obligation and Politics”, in American Political 

Science Review. 68(4), 78-92. 

Politics And Moral Education in Aristotle’s 473 

Published inNumber 1Volume 3