Opinion: Where are the men who vowed to die for Jonathan?

by Tayo Ogunbiyi

jonathan_goodluck51One vital lesson to be learnt from the loss of President Jonathan at the poll is the tem­porary nature of political power. If only we could allow this to properly sink in, no one would substitute God for a political leader who is here today, gone tomorrow.

The March 28 presidential poll has come and gone. As for drama, the poll had its fair share of comedy that would make fa­mous Nollywood actors, ‘Aki and Pawpaw’, grin with envy. Take the back seat ‘Aki and Pawpaw’; enter El­der Orubebe, the newest grand mas­ter of comedy. In a Nollywood style fashion, Elder Orubebe caught the at­tention of the Nollywood world when he forcefully grabbed the microphone from INEC Chairman, Professor Atta­hiru Jega, while the latter was about to commence procedure for the an­nouncement of more presidential poll’s results. Orubebe added some colour to his act by sitting on the floor and threatening to halt procedure for good. It is all about a character in­terpreting the script according to the instruction of the director. If the pay is good, actors could appropriately interpret any role. In this instance, perhaps, the pay was good, and ac­tor Orubebe’s performance was top notched.

With the election results and figures, that were appropriately collated and tallied by him in his hand, the Professor told a bewil­dering Jega that he couldn’t read what was written on the paper properly. Despite being in a well illuminated hall, a rechargeable lamp was brought in to aid the Prof’s seem­ingly poor sight, but all to no avail. When he was asked by Jega if he was not the one that authored the content in the paper, the profes­sor answered in the affirmative but with a ca­veat: He wrote them under ‘special circum­stances’. Perhaps, in the typical Nollywood style, this highly captivating movie would, one day, come up with a season 2 episode and the professor would be able to properly am­plify what made the circumstances that spe­cial. In the meantime, let’s watch out for ‘Jega and the Professor Part 2’. It promises to be a blockbuster.

Now, the main pre-occupation of this piece is not actually to highlight the theatrical con­tent of the recently concluded presidential poll. The goal is to draw attention to the transitory nature of power. According to John M. Pfiff­ner and Frank P. Sherwood, politics involves the pursuit, acquisition, and exercise of po­litical power. Ideally, the ultimate purpose of political power is to shape and control public policy primarily for the betterment of the soci­ety. Thus, acquisition of political power should not be an end in itself but a means to an end. Unfortunately, however, in this clime political power actors see power as the ultimate end. Their perception of power is wrong and faulty. This explains why most of them behave con­descendingly while in power. Their motive for seeking and acquiring power is, at best, self seeking and parochial.

Since the attainment of independence in 1960, the procedure of acquiring political power in Nigeria has been through democratic process and military intrusion. Hence, we have experienced political leadership spear­headed by a combination of both civilian and military political power actors. It is, however, sad that most of these political actors, from their conducts, seem to hold the view that power is an end and not a means. In his fa­mous book, ‘1984’, English novelist, essayist and critic, George Orwell was, perhaps, in­advertently referring to the power perception of the average Nigerian political power actor when he stated that: “the Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power, pure power. Power is not a means; it is an end. The object of power is power.” How awful!

The picture painted above by Orwell, to a great extent, perfectly describes the power im­age of a typical Nigerian political power actor. Orwell’s reference to pure power could be inter­preted to mean absolute power. In this clime, pure power stands for various things ranging from liberty to drive against traffic, in utter dis­regard for traffic laws, to condoning off a whole city for hours because a ‘powerful’ political power actor or his wife is in town. In this cur­rent dispensation, a Governor was alleged to have publicly slapped a judge. That, of course, is his own understanding of power. In Nigeria, six members of a 26 man House of Assembly could ‘impeach’ a Speaker and send the others on exile. That is pure power!

At the height of his fascination with power, a police Commissioner once called himself a leop­ard that tamed a Governor whom he referred to as a tiger. The police Commissioner over acted the script of his paymasters as he insulted the Governor beyond every sane imagination on quite a number of occasions. He, indeed, made the State ungovernable for His Excellency, the Governor. In another show of power, the Speak­er of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, was instantly stripped of his security details by police authorities, who were prompt to interpret the law, on the account of his dumping the ruling PDP for another party. In Nigeria, for obvious reasons, security agencies often act in most ridiculous fashion as append­ages of any government in power.

Political appointees are equally not differ­ent from security agents in their perception of power. They seem to forget that political office, like political power that births it, is tran­sient. They often act in manners contrary to the expectations of the people whose inter­est they are supposed to protect. Where the personal interest of their principal runs at cross purpose with that of the larger society, they would rather encourage him to dare his people by satisfying his parochial desires. In what can be termed the height of sycophancy, a minister, in the current dispensation, once referred to the wife of the president as his Je­sus Christ.

One vital lesson to be learnt from the loss of President Jonathan at the poll is the tem­porary nature of political power. If only we could allow this to properly sink in, no one would substitute God for a political leader who is here today, gone tomorrow. Also, po­litical office holders would, perhaps, put the common good of the people as their main concern while in power. Sycophancy thrives in our politics because many see office hold­ers as their mall tickets. Very soon, President Jonathan would know who his true friends are. Very soon, he would know the difference between real friends and fair weather friends. That is why men in power should be mindful of those they surround themselves with.

Professional sycophants easily make un­suspecting leaders to lose focus. The very men that vowed to die for President Jonathan are already queuing behind General Buhari. Political leaders need to learn from Williams Shakespeare that: “All the world’s a stage and the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances……..’

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Tayo Ogunbiyi is of the Features Unit, Min­istry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.

 
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

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