2023: Engineer Sule’s Ummrah Message And Plato’s Philosopher-King

By Ali Abare


Nasarawa State Governor, Engineer Abdullahi Sule is presently on Lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia. Though a strictly religious obligation, this year’s Ummrah presented the governor an opportunity to bear his mind on the 2023 general elections.

The choice of the venue for Engineer Sule, who by every standards, upholds, cherishes and propagates the teachings of Islam, signifies the seriousness of his pronouncement regarding the forthcoming general election.

By choosing to speak his mind in the close vicinity of God, within the holy sanctuary of the Holy Kabaa, alongside numerous, similar references to the holy books, shows that Engineer Sule, manifests the true qualities of the utopian leader envision by Plato (427-347 BCE) in his famous book, The Republic.

Plato is one of the world’s best known and most widely read and studied philosophers. He was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, and he wrote in the middle of the fourth century B.C.E. in ancient Greece. Though influenced primarily by Socrates, to the extent that Socrates is usually the main character in many of Plato’s writings, he was also influenced by Heraclitus, Parmenides, and the Pythagoreans.

One of Plato’s most famous works, which can be attributed to the lessons he learned from Socrates, was The Republic. This is also considered to be the first book on political science or government and uses the Platonic method to reason through ideas on justice. In the book, a group decides to create an imaginary city to define what justice looks like. The city is divided into classes: the Rulers who have an understanding of right and wrong, the Guardians who protect the city and care for its people, and the Producers who provide goods and services for the people.

As far as the 2023 general elections is concerned, the central message of Engineer Sule’s Ummrah message was justice and fairness. As leaders in Nasarawa State, the Governor assured level playing field for all politicians aspiring under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Like the central message of Plato’s The Republic, Engineer Sule’s preoccupation with justice and fairness in politics and governance, stands him out as a true manifestation of the philosopher king envisioned in the Republic.

By choosing to speak on justice and fairnes in Makkah, standing before God, Engineer Sule is more like the captain of a ship depicted by Plato in his ‘craft analogy’, drawing on the allegory of the ship.

In Plato’s The Republic, Socrates sets out an example of a ship led by men ignorant of navigation, who “don’t understand that a true captain must pay attention to the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds, and all that pertains to his craft, if he’s really to be the ruler of a ship. And they don’t believe that there is any craft that would enable him to determine how he should steer the ship, whether the others want him to or not, or any possibility of mastering this alleged craft or of practicing it at the same time as the craft of navigation. Don’t you think that the true captain will be called a real stargazer, a babbler, and a good-for-nothing by those who sail in ships governed in that way?” (Plato; 2007, 204).

Plato’s idea of specialization is also linked to justice, which he considers to be structural, as political justice is a result of a structured city, where individual justice is a result of a structured soul, and where each member of the polis has a “specific craft for which he has a natural aptitude.”

According to the ancient Greek philosopher, “Ruling … is a skill”, which requires special training available to few.

At the same time, he argues that, philosophers must possess qualities that enable them to rule; for instance, they must be able to recognize the difference between friend and foe, good and bad. Above all, philosophers must “love wisdom” as the rule of the wise leads to the reigning of justice, as philosophy becomes sovereign.

Plato posits that justice is a virtue, as is knowledge, which requires understanding. Understanding refers to goodness, and thus, knowledge and goodness are one. The philosopher kings have virtue as they have knowledge, and thus, according to Plato, their rule is justified.

Engineer Sule’s Ummrah message to politicians to play politics with fairness and fear of God, is not only unprecedented but an expression of the yearning of a philosopher king for justice and fairness to reign across Nasarawa State ahead of the 2023 general elections.

He sees justice as a virtue while possessing the knowledge that gives him understanding, which leads to goodness. Only fairness and level playing field would guarantee justice for all.

The call by Engineer Sule for fairness and justice, as well as providing level playing field for all aspirants, should not be taken lightly, considering that the Governor choose to make the call while in Makkah.

It has therefore become pertinent to appeal to politicians in Nasarawa State, not to put undue and unnecessary pressure on the Governor, in order to achieve their political goals, that may lead to unfairness and injustice.

Politicians warming up to contest in the 2023 general elections should heed this call and go do their homework, rather than waiting for the Governor to do their bidding, even if it means going against his pledge before God.

Nasarawa State is indeed lucky and blessed to have Engineer Sule as Governor, a modern day philosopher king whose major preoccupation is justice, fairness, as well as bringing prosperity to the people.

This pledge by a sitting governor is a paradigm shift that will ensure fairness and justice for all, which will necessary enhance unity in the body politic, thus ensuring peace and sustainable development.



Abare is a Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Nasarawa State.