Barely a year ago, I hypothesized, “I have seen mundanities which make men act so crazy – wine and women, another maybe power. I have seen mundanities which make women act so crazy – money and women, another maybe power.” I made this hypothesis despite that then I was not an expert in history, politics, the arts, humanities or any human preoccupation which deals with intricacies of power. However, I have read much literature on the aforementioned subjects to make a pretty close conclusion. I still do not lay claim to expertise on any of the said subjects, but as I read more and local and global events unravel before my own eyes, I could not be short of a certainty. The certainty that the ability to wield power in whatever form, dimension or name in small or no small way grants one the opportunity to do, undo and redo. It distorts a person’s character and reputation such that while or after the privilege of being in the position of authority, one has a reflective homework to do. He or she becomes amazed at deeds done and undone. Deeds hitherto, he never in his wildest dreams dreamed of performing.
The awareness of the ripple effect even the smallest display of power could bring about has been an invaluable non-material asset I hold precious. I definitely concur with Abraham Lincoln, who to paraphrase said, “All men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” To expound, adversity has been encountered by virtually every human who has walked the surface of the earth at one time or another; it is one of the fabrics of life. The saying, “the rich also cry”, enunciates this clearly. A limited fraction of humans however have the privilege to wield power, even the most minute and base form of it. Some never in their lifetime wield any, largely or in part because of unforeseen events like natural disasters and inhumane deprivations by one human on another. The annals, archives, documentations of historical occurrences, epochs and eras both past and present cannot but convince one of the truths in Lincoln’s quote. Records are rife with the abuse of power even till this day. No aspect of human endeavour has not had its own bruise of this misdemeanor among power holders, be it political, administrative, religious, even in conjugal realms and among the masses. When one ruminates on the world wars, national wars, bitter separation of sects and churches, nations, brethren, even its accessory atrocities such as the Holocaust, Hiroshima nuclear strike, Biafra and Rwanda genocide, one cannot be left in doubt. Figures like Adolf Hitler, Henry VIII, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Idi Amin, to mention a few, keeps memories fresh, the conviction they took the path strewn with ruthless deeds and inconsiderate acts having been intoxicated by power. Some nations have incessantly been in the news because of acts of terror which are offshoots of abused power and power tussle. Iraq, Iran, Israel, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia and Syria are nations I weep for when I view the atrocities and wrecks done to humans, animate and inanimate features. Nations under dictatorial burdens tells the story better.
On the local arena no difference is witnessed. I have heard stories of journalists, lawyers and people killed outright or jailed without due judicial process. The judicial system threatened, silenced and sidelined during events which led to avoidable deaths. It even shocks when one takes cognizance of the reasons for the deaths. Reasons fathomable only in the minds of the authorities. I have witnessed events where extortion and mistreatment of people whose interests were purportedly protected. I had to walk out on one such occasion for a personal reason, when the situation became intolerable. The injustices meted out behind closed doors are what only walls with ears could tell. The incredulous act of a female legislator, Mrs. Patricia Etteh, has virtually foreclosed the chances of another female Speaker for the House of Representatives in Nigeria, albeit, stereotypically. The congregation of a particular Nigerian Catholic Diocese refused to welcome the bishop-elect on trivial grounds that he was not from the State. These instances show women and the masses also abuse powers vested on them. It is in no way the exclusive prerogative of the male folk.
In conclusion, the lessons of power are yet to be assimilated. The denotative power suffixes, “-doms”, “-isms”, “-archy”, “-cy” and so on have taught much, still little has been grasped. Discourses has availed me the opportunity to propose; one of such proposition is that a person might necessarily be under another to know who is credible and who is not, in this case it is a character test. It will do all good to learn from both the successes and downsides of power to avoid repeated global tragedies.