Mystery Of Power And Politics
IN out in’, says the bicycle pump. Power is like the bicycle pump. It speaks the language of the computer – garbage in, garbage out. Power is an enigma. It’s both a myth and a mystery. It’s a mirage, so evasive and so slippery. Power is esoteric. Only the initiate and the clairvoyant can understand the language of power. Power is a storyteller, with a thousand lessons and morals.
What lesson? Power is non-negotiable; it belongs to the people. It’s full of vanity; so transient and impermanent. While some take a sudden flight to the acme of power and fame through politics, others toil and grin it, grinding their nose on the windmill of power. Power and politics are two lions littered in one day. They are like opium and bile. They pamper the valiant and lull the villain with their soothing hands and balms. Power is so fickle, yet so awesome and fleeting within the frame of fame, fate and perseverance.
Why all these ramblings? The recent election of General Muhammadu Buhari as the next president of Nigeria underscores the ephemeral and delicate nature of power and politics without the legitimacy of the people, who wield the instruments of power and the mandate for change. While the people are the custodians and grandmasters of power, change is their bond and final word. With the election of the former General, it shows that power and time speak a universal language – hope and perseverance. It gives hope to the hopeless, and courage to the resolute. It’s just a matter of time, persistence and constancy of purpose.
For me, as far as the 2015 presidential election is concerned, the Jonathan-Buhari political narrative is a story that bears telling a million times in Nigeria’s political history books, for the entire world. For the discerning mind, the episode recreates the history of great people like Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States of America. Many times he tried his luck and popularity with the people at the poll and many times he failed before perseverance finally wrote his name on the American hall of fame through the ballot box. Thomas Edison invented electricity after several experiments, through the audacious spirit of tenacity and doggedness, if not by trial and error. And when Edison was asked how many times he had failed. He replied: “I never failed once. I only learned how many ways it could be done”.
All great men are like that. They are made of the same sterner stuff, yet different from the crowd. They break barriers to do the unusual. They step beyond bounds; cross-established lines of human suffering to the remit of indignity, just to conquer the frontiers of history through invention and innovation so that the mankind can thrive. They are propelled by the inordinate ambition to be different and to tell history, no matter the price. It requires stoicism, self-denial and equanimity. General Buhari is a man caught in that mould.
He never gave up even when men had written him off as a failure, a never-do-well desperado of a politician. He was called all names including a despot, a brute of a dictator, a killer and anti-democrat. Yet, he gathered his pieces, held himself together and moved on even in the midst of lean financial resources. He thought the world that daring to be different is not desperation or inordinate ambition to rule but to create history for mankind; to draw lessons from history through the painful process of trial and error by working in the unfamiliar path. And the people finally gave their verdict by giving him their overwhelming mandate at the 2015 presidential polls.
On the other side of the coin, it was a quantum leap for President Goodluck Jonathan and his country, Nigeria. He broke a unique record in Nigeria’s political history for his fellow politicians and the people to emulate. In defeat, he scored an unprecedented victory of historic significance; a landmark victory that heralded a new era – the very first time a sitting Nigerian president conceded defeat at the polls even when the ballots were still counting.
By acquiescing in defeat, he demonstrated that he is a man of his words; a man of great honour and courage. He did not only prove to the world that his “personal ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian”. He also distinguished himself as an exemplary statesman and great nationalist who set himself apart as a great trustee of history. History and the entire world will celebrate him and write his name in gold in commemoration of his great legacy.
For Nigerians, a new era has just emerged. It’s a new dawn and a monument of reawakening not only for the people but also for their leaders. It’s a moment for sober reflection and socio-political consciousness among the entire black race and the global community about the need for good governance and political tolerance among earthly leaders all over the world. On the part of sit-tight African leaders, it’s a lesson for them to learn to govern their people with love, care and compassion, peace and justice as well as respect for human dignity.
On the part of Buhari, it’s not yet Uhuru. It’s not a period of conviviality or merry-making. It’s a golden opportunity for him to gird his loins and put on his crown of thorns and armour of breastplate and brave the turbulent tides of change thrown up by fate and the benevolent spirit of the Almighty God. It’s an opportunity for Gen. Buhari and the APC political machinery to brace up and do great things for Nigerians, who gave them their mandate, by transforming the lives of the common man.
• Okafor wrote from Abuja.