SUNDAY, JANUARY 16, 2011
THE CONCEPT OF POWER II
The Greek Philosopher Sophocles once observed: “you can never know a man much better until you give him money or political power or make him a law-giver.” Power once given can make or mar an individual. No wonder it is said power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
In Achebe’s Arrow of God, the protagonist Ezeulu was carried away by power thrust upon him by his community. His antagonist Nwaka captured it thus: “He wants to be all in all, priest, king.” Eventually, Ezeulu over reached himself and that was his greatest undoing.
Montesquieu the French philosopher looking at the intricacies of power therefore came up with the theory of separation of power. In the political domain you can talk about the power of the executives to carry out day to day administration of governance, the power of the legislature to make laws and the power of the judiciary to interpret laws so made. From time to time if these are put in place governance are made much easier. But we see sometimes people overreaching themselves and even playing the role of a ‘god’. I maintain still, power exercised rightly or wrongly should be accounted for someday.
In his 2010 presidential charge to the faithful, the Bishop of Ikeduru Diocese, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Maduwike had this to say. “I just came back from Uganda where we had the All Anglican Bishops conference. Immediately I alighted from the aircraft in Entebbe, my mind went to those days when the late field marshal Idi Amin held sway in the country. He totally ravaged the country, raped the economy, killed and maimed critics and padlocked the lips of others. Idi Amin singularly shot dead an Anglican Archbishop, Most Rev. Luwum who became a Martyr. But Idi Amin’s recklessness did not last forever. In the popular go minutes at Entebbe, Idi Amin was forced into exile where he later died. Monuments speak volumes about the Martyrdom of Archbishop Luwum which adorns various Christian centres in Uganda”.
Power properly conceived should be able to drive someone to better the lot of people who are entrusted to his care. I think in the developed world, people clamour for power to use it for the good of the larger society. Power for them is not for personal aggrandizement.
The current president of United States of America, Barack Obama is an Archetypal of how power should be acquired and used. He humbly assumed office and ever since has been making frantic efforts to better the lot of the American citizens. Even in the face of dwindling economy he has not given up but is trying to see that the economy improves and then people get the best out of his government. Of course a good leader goes out to serve so that should he ask for a renewal of mandate, people will not deny him of it.
Let it be said that when God gives power, He expects that it should be used to improve the lot of people. The most powerful is to use his status to put smiles on peoples face. We have passed the Hobessian state of life where life used to be brutish, nasty and bad. But do the powerful use their positions to touch lives?
I know as Nigeria is seriously preparing to go into elections some individuals in some quarters must have been praying that certain selfish persons may not go through. For if they do, they will still concentrate on themselves, their families and even for their children yet unborn. The resultant effect of this then will be the poor get poorer and the rich-richer.
Some countries of the world are blessed with such powerful persons living like Mandela, Ban ki Moon, Margaret Thatcher, Bill gate, Gordon Brown and even those that have passed on but their work still speak volume of their contributions to humanity. Such persons like Martin Luther Junior, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, to mention but a few. To the likes of such people they lived for their countrymen and pursued ideals that moved and is still moving their individual societies forward. Theirs was a world of sacrifice and commitment to the common good. You hardly can count houses, posh cars, stashed currencies abroad while their fellow countrymen lived in squalor. I think this is a great lesson for us in Africa. Infact, it is a shame for a country to be so rich and yet at the same time her citizenry are condemned to penury
We need men and women who can dream great dreams. And such dreams are to be translated to influence positively their given society. Therefore, in a developing society such as Nigeria, the current measure of a most powerful man is not to be gotten by the number of cars, houses, mistresses, money in some foreign banks, but in the quality of lives that are touched daily. I believe if praise singers, charlatans and sycophants will give way, some people in power may do well. To be continued
Ven. (Barr) Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre,