• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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BusinessDay

Power, its abuses and Nigerian politicians

Public officers must stop feasting at the expense of Nigerians

“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river” – Nikita Khrushchev

I have deliberately narrowed this write up to cover Nigerian Politicians because all politics is local and with it political behaviour. The only common denominator is that power unmasks a man or put it brutally, power corrupts a man.

Yes, entrust a man with power and then you know who he really is in contradistinction to who he claims or appears to be. You will find out that the outside does not match the inside.

I do not trust politicians or anybody exhibiting political behaviour. This is because they wear two or even three faces. Politics, according to Ambrose Bierce “is the conduct of public affairs for private advantage “. You really cannot hold them to their promises. That is because, with all due respect, Nigerians are docile, they have failed to hold politicians accountable to their promises. That attitude emboldens politicians to be corrupt and act with impunity believing that heaven will not fall.

Let us quickly examine the nature of power because power is a monster, the most misunderstood concept or subject in social science. There are basically two kinds of power; political power and spiritual power which are diametrically opposed to each other.

Political power is the capacity to coerce others, in open or secret, overtly or covertly to do one’s will. To be effective, this capacity must reside in the position or office such as kingship, presidency, or money. Consequently, political power has no relationship with goodness, intelligence, or wisdom of the person on who political power resides. That explains why very wicked, stupid and evil people have occupied political position in this country and elsewhere in the world. In our case, well known touts or “agbero” have climbed to the position of power.

Many politicians in Nigeria rely on power arising from possession of money which they use to corrupt those in political value chain during elections. They fail to realize that power resides in money not the individual which is why political power obtained with money power does not last. To succeed as a politician relying on money, you must put yourself in a position to always have money to throw about to be relevant. This is the root of corruption in politics.

The easiest way to fight corruption in Nigeria is to remove money from politics and focus on the integrity, competence and capacity of the politician while holding political office in the past. It is people without verifiable track record that play money politics.

Because power resides in money not the politician, retiring Governors and legislators pay themselves fabulous severance package and pension for life so they continue to have money to engage in politics. That is why many politicians fail to be relevant when out of power because they rely on money which they no longer command.

Recent development seem to suggest that the strategy of removing money from politics and focus on the integrity competence and capacity of the politician has been successfully employed by a political party that does not give “shishi” in mobilizing supporters . In fact the movement is beginning to take root in Nigeria because the youths have keyed into the vision of a new Nigeria where the son and daughter of no body can become somebody going forward.

That brings us to spiritual power. This resides entirely within the usually ordained minister and has nothing to do with the capacity to coerce others but coercion could manifest indirectly in the form of undue influence. That is why in the build up to the 2023 general elections politicians were busy trooping into religious houses to obtain support and endorsement of the religious leaders so that the congregation can be influenced to cast their votes for them.

People of great spiritual power may be wealthy and sometimes occupy high political positions of leadership but they may be poor and lacking political authority. That is why the wise religious leaders with integrity who know their political weakness refrain from asking members to vote for any political party.

The power of money in politics in our clime has weakened virtually all political and non-political institutions. Government agencies with laws establishing them which specify their functions have been swayed by money to act or refuse to act on the powers vested on them by statute by politicians.

The chief culprit is the judiciary that had the legal power to overturn electoral results and the process subvert the will of the people by passing spurious judgement declaring a loser with less popular votes to a winner on technicalities. There are well known cases, especially in Imo State under the present jurisdiction that don’t require repetition here.

Read also: Nigerian politicians struggle to tame social media generation

The time has come for Nigerian electorate to rise against impunity of electoral officers and agencies of government that act contrary to the rule of engagement. We can call them “the People’s Police” because the law that established these agencies is a public document.

These laws spell out what the agencies or Government officials can do. The “People’s Police” will call their attention to dereliction of duty and ask them not to step away from the rules of engagement. Had this institution been in place, Prof Yakubu would have been stopped from announcement of voting results that was different from what polling agents obtained at the polling booths. There would have been no need for him to impudently tell aggrieved parties to” go to court “.

Finally, an x-ray of the behaviour of typical Nigerian Politicians or political class is that they are very selfish. They pursue their own narrow interest not the national or interest of the group they represent, on whose votes they climbed to power. They run the rat race for wealth, power and prestige. They exist only for themselves and they think of others only in terms of getting things out of them and living at their expense. They forget that there is God and we will all die one day and face judgement.

Selfish politicians do not know that power, prestige and wealth could be acquired but not life or indeed good health. A new Nigeria is possible but those in political positions need a rethink and align themselves with reality.