Political Power: A Privilege Or Responsibility?
written by; Malam Yusuf Abdullahi
In the name of Allah who states “O Dawood! Surely We have made you a ruler in the land; so judge between men with justice and do not follow desire, lest it shall lead you astray from the path of Allah; (as for) who go astray from the path of Allah, they shall surely have severe punishment because they forgot the day of reckoning” Q38:26
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His chosen servant, our master Muhammad and purified progeny.
At this moment when the misfits struggle for relevance to the incoming government, some very unfortunate, through calumnious writings and campaigns and the expected prosecution not persecution of the outgoing, it is important to assess leadership in our political arena. It is basically natural, but some remarkable qualities are known and expected of every leader.
Our country has recently experienced another landmark in its political history. We have witnessed a tug of war in which the politicians played for the mandate of electorates. There were many lessons to learn in the Nigerian political dispensation. Yes, we have different view regarding the way things move and the ultimate solution to the increasing problems bedeviling Nigeria. “… verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves with their own souls …” Q13:11. So, if we want our country to change, we must change in ourselves, embrace self – restraint and avoid all forms of corruption. We must always note that a tree can never make a forest as a popular adage says.
However, as integral part of the country, we express our views and contribute our quota in the prevailing issues. As the politicians are prepared to assume mantle of leadership to various offices, I will like to communicate some words of advice.
While some leaders were highly respected for proven trust, transparency and accountability, others were embarrassment to their families for misappropriation, embezzlement and squander of trusted public fund. History is always evident on this.
NIGERIAN DEMOCRATIC DISPENSATION
For quite long, the democracy in Nigeria was considered nascent. However, with the recent electoral conduct by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) leading to change of government, the developmental trend was highly appreciated by analysts.
Democracy as the rule of majority that protects minority is not judiciously applied in Nigeria. Its history was characterized by rigging, use of hooligans and other sorts of corrupt practices. That was why elections had not been free, fair and credible. For this, most responsible people decided not to be party to such irresponsible and embarrassing processes. The number of recorded voters had been very supportive to this assertion.
Analytically, in most cases you find no political will from the candidates just like the electorates who do not have the awareness and courage to appraise those elected to various offices with their campaign promises. This was why masses were always exploited with token amount or materials during electoral process.
As such the politicians would always find their ways to mantle of leadership by all means possible and never cared about the wishes of the electorates. In fact most of them would only meet the electorates at the eve of their tenure for re – election or imposition!
In contrast, we envisage a situation where both candidates and electorates could stand their task and obligation regarding the political process. This is what we witness where people are more enlightened.
LEADERSHIP IS A TRIAL
It is unfortunate that most people consider leadership a privilege. One could easily notice such people who misuse the opportunity by amassing wealth for their personal gains, relations and associates forgetting the masses that mandated them to such political positions.
It is very clear that the essence of governance is to ensure justice and improve socio – economic well being of the society. The principal sectors of our national life are generally in very difficult situation. Agriculture, Security, power, education, health, aviation, water and petroleum resources among others.
The most disheartening and disturbing problem is corruption which is the root cause of all evils in the country. Corruption is relative, spatial and temporal covering stealing, embezzlement, misappropriation, vandalism and money laundering among others.
This predicament has been on the increase despite various agencies established to tackle it. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and Bureau of Public Conduct (BPC) are all known but are more of either a toothless dog or a remotely guided political missile!
We may ask; why is corruption on the increase? When could the menace come to an end? What category of people are the most involved? Who really cares about Nigeria? Do the leaders really love the country? What kind of patriotism and attachment do successive Nigerian leaders have for their fatherland? What is the prevailing public poll regarding the country’s unfortunate situation?
Man is originally on trial, trial in the sense that he was created to serve as Allah’s vicegerent on earth. In other words to serve Allah and live in peace and love according to His commands. So we are all on trial; the leader, the led, the rich, the poor and everybody! Therefore Allah has expectation on man irrespective of his social status just as the masses have their expectation on the leaders and all are accountable to Allah, the Most High.
KEEPING TO PEOPLE’S MANDATE
Politicians get access to mantle of leadership on the platform of political parties which have their manifestos. The constitution on the other hand has specified terms of reference and powers for political office holders with a view to serving the people harmoniously.
During political campaigns and rallies, candidates promise to fulfill the yearnings of the electorates in a multifaceted dimension which they most unfortunately ignore after election. Imperatively, leaders should understand and play the right role as custodians of the people. As such, they should work around the clock to the satisfaction of the populace.
To elaborate a little, as far as Nigeria is concerned, the issue of security is the most important as no meaningful development could be achieved without a viable security measures put in place. Given the situation, nobody is secure? Probably the politicians in power! Paradoxically, the situation increasingly worsened with the inflation of its budget.
There is always one crisis or the other that engulfs uncountable lives and property across the country. Although there are various stakeholders in the improvement of security situation as a collective responsibility, major task is obviously on the government. Another important sector to mention is health which is wealth according to a popular adage. The critical situation of our country paved way for the rich to Europe, Asia and some parts of Africa on health ground leaving the poor helpless behind.
Vividly, our education sector suffers greater setback witnessing students trooping to Malaysia, Uganda, Ghana and Egypt on the increase. Beside moral implication, these countries generate hundred millions of dollars in turn improving their socio – economic well being!
Obviously, lack of piety is responsible and root cause of this corruption especially where custodians boast of leadership, misunderstood themselves and forgot their oath to public offices. Allah states “whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought, and for many of them He grants forgiveness” Q26:31.
THE TASK BEFORE THE POLITICAL OFFICE HOLDERS
Here is an excerpt from; Governance of the Jurist, a compendium of thirteen speeches of Imam Khomeini delivered at Najaf in ,1970.
“The scholars of Islam have a duty to struggle against all attempts by oppressors to establish a monopoly over the sources of wealth or to make illicit use of them. They must not allow the masses to remain hungry and deprived while plundering oppressors usurp the sources of wealth and live in opulence”. Imam Ali, the Commander of the faithful (As) has said; I have accepted the task of government because Allah, Exalted and Almighty, has exacted from the scholars of Islam a pledge not to sit silent and idle in the face of gluttony and plundering of the oppressors on one hand and the hunger and deprivation of the oppressed on the other”
The full text of the passage as in Nahjul Balagha, sermon 3, reads thus: “I swear by Him Who causes the seed to open and creates the souls of all living things that were it not for the presence of those who have come to swear allegiance to me, were it not for the obligation of rulership now imposed upon me by the availability of aid and support, and were it not for the pledge that Allah has taken from the scholars of Islam not to remain silent in the face of the gluttony and plundering of the oppressors on one hand and harrowing hunger and deprivation of the oppressed on the other, were it not for all of this, then I would abandon the reins of government and in no way seek it. You would see that this world of yours, with all its position and rank, is less in my eyes than the moisture that comes from the sneeze of a goat” He has also said, as contained in Nahjul Balagha, letter 47, entrusting his great offspring in his celebrated testament; be an enemy to the oppressor and helper to the oppressed”
As such Imam Khomeini stressed “A clergyman should be such that when the people see him, they should remember the messenger of Allah (s). You have accepted this heavy responsibility and it is you that should guide this people to the end” 1979. The well known concept of Wilayatul faqih -governance of the jurist was built on this basis.
Therefore, a lot is expected from stakeholders for peaceful coexistence and socio – economic stability of every society; the politicians, the elite, the business class and scholars whose role is relatively more influential provided they remain attached to Allah the Most High! At this point, it is pertinent to appreciate the efforts and measures adopted by Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky and Pastor Yohanna Buru in promotion of peace and ethno – religious tolerance.
We are very thankful to Allah who averted evils against our bedeviled nation after the last presidential polls of 2015 as against the 2011.
While urging the electorates to remain inquisitive on campaign promises, I remind all political office holders to strictly keep to their words and fear Allah, the Omnipresent as they will account before Him on the last day.