We must define democracy as that form of government and of society which is inspired above every other, with the feeling and consciousness of the dignity of man-Thomas Mann (1875-1955)
NARCISSISTIC psychopaths and Hitleric nihilists have an insatiable and venomously gluttonous appetite for power. Power is authority, prerogative, jurisdiction, force and domination. When political power devolves on a non compos mentis, he uses it autocratically and sadistically to oppress the people and perpetuate himself in office. Hence, in contemporary times there is a disastrous rise of misplaced power. Indeed, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Power incarnates eccentric and schizoid idiosyncrasies. It is instinctually edacious and cocooned in insatiety. It is tantalizing and ambrosial. It is luciferously arrogant and has a pathological and neurological obsession with its own carriage. It sometimes becomes a psychological dementia manifesting in scornful and supercilious disdainfulness. It showcases total disregard, imperiousness and presumptuousness. It peremptorily synopsizes the superfluity of farcicality, the amplitude of absurdity and the plenitude of idiocy in weird ambition. It could be put to good or bad use.
The dialectics and dynamics of power in contemporary times entails the entrenchment of democracy, liberty, rule of law, constitutionality, due process and electoral laws. To justify their continued stay in power, tyrants all over the world are now rewriting the nuts and bolts of democracy by the manipulation of constitutions, political skullduggery and Machiavellian maneuvers. They perpetuate their stay in office and seek political relevance by amending and doctoring the constitution to legitimize the illegitimacy of their stay in power.
This metastatic political malady and lunacy of self-perpetuation through a so – called amended constitution has become the political mantra of most leaders in Africa and Asia. We now have constitutional despots allover Africa and Asia. The political theatrics entails the Head of State, using his political surrogates to head so- called democratic institutions and electoral laws are written, then the constitution is amended to reflect an extension of his tenure of through an electoral process manipulated in his favour, befuddled by low voter’s turn out and voter’s intimidation. True democracy is now being sacrificed on the altar of solipsism and political catalepsy.
President Hosni Mubarak ruled Egypt for more than 20 years through orchestrated and farcical elections which he won by over 70 percent of the vote cast. It was rumored before his political waterloo that after he is tired of ruling Egypt, he intends to handover to his son who was then being groomed to take over from him.
Historically, Egypt had a dynasty that was established by the Ottoman viceroy Mohamed Ali (1798-1801). King Farouk took over, but was toppled in a military coup in 1952. The radical Gamel Abdul Nasser (1918 – 1970) became president in 1954. He nationalized the Suez Canal and made Egypt the champion of Arab Nationalism. President Anwar Sadat came in but was assassinated in 1981and in 1981 President Hosni Mubarak took over the reins of leadership in Egypt until he was toppled.
Late Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo ruled for over 30 years subjecting the constitution to his political whimsicality. His son, Faure Eyadema has also followed his father’s footsteps. Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been in power for over 20years. President Paul Biya of Cameron, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Late Muamar Gaddafi of Libya, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya etc, are/were leaders who want/ed to remain in power forever. Before now, we saw and have seen others like late Idi Amin Dada, Jean Bokassa, Hastings Kamuzu Banda and General Sani Abacha etc. President Olusegun Obasanjo wanted to manipulate the constitution also to prolong (3rd term) his stay in power?
The quest in contemporary times to give a semblance of democracy to national Zeitgeist is because of America and Britain’s instruction to all countries to democratize or face financial starvation. It has however turned out to be a double edged guillotine as most despots are now using the democratization excuse to manipulate their constitutions and to prolong their stay in office. Even locally, clubs, Associations, Unions, groups’ chairmen and officials are also imbibing the concept of constitutional manipulation.
Power is not the exclusive preserve of a cabal or selected few. It is the democratic right of each and every human being. Despots and power psychopaths will continue to hold on to power through deliberate recrimination, manipulation and flagellation of the citizenry, unless the citizens stand-up for their rights. The one-party state syndrome must be resisted by the citizenry. It was Steve Bike who said “We must learn to accept that no group, however benevolent, can ever hand over power to the vanquished on a plate. We must accept that the limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
Finally, those who hold on to power require a modicum of mental virtuosity and self-control. Hence, the essayist Robert Burton (1577-1640) posited in his book the Anatomy of Melancholy that, “conquer thyself, till thou hast done this, thou art but a slave for it is almost as well to be subjected to another’s appetite as to thine own.” As Nigeria undergoes the political engineering and social re-acculturation process we call on our leaders on all fronts to uphold the rule of law and all democratic tenets. Despots Beware.
GBINIJE is of Mandate Against Poverty, MAP, Warri