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THE COST OF OVERUSING POWER

By NBF News
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Those who keenly follow developments in our democratic processes never stop to be amazed why things don't follow the natural curve. They wonder, sometimes in complete disillusionment, why our democratic processes don't spick and span. Rather, they often spew forth disheartening events, an unkindly, but factual conclusion why things never quite work in Nigeria.

The answers are not too far-fetched. It is all in the nature of our politics, and what our politicians have made of it. It begs the question: why has politics done so much good to people and country in other democracies but has brought more miseries and despair than happiness to the vast majority of our people? Democracy becomes meaningless and the people abandon hope when politics becomes a tool for pure civilian dictatorship.

In that respect, whatever vision the ruling party has remains just an abstract until it is translated into tangible, realistic things that the citizenry can see, feel, things that can remind them with excitement, 'oh, it is good that this party is in power, that this man is the president!. Unfortunately, the opposite is the case with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). It is not as if other political parties are any better than PDP. But, it's plain truth that since 1999 that PDP has been in power at the centre, it has shown clear deficiency in trustworthiness and brazen disrespect to justice and equity. Again, this doesn't mean that PDP epitomizes evil, but the party and its leadership have often defecated on the altar of democratic norms.

The crisis in the Bayelsa chapter of the party, resulting from the disqualification of the incumbent governor, Mr. Timipreye Sylva, from contesting in the forthcoming governorship election on the party's platform through which he was elected four years ago, must elicit more than a passing interest. The issue is what the laws say and whether the party has followed the rules and procedures in denying the governor a second chance. Although primaries are regarded as the internal business of the parties, should not disregard the necessary procedures that will ultimately lead to the emergence of the right candidates. This must be said: sponsorship of a particular candidate is not bad for democracy, but it becomes reprehensible when the procedures are either bent or out rightly violated to favour a particular candidate. Due process is vital, not obvious partnership.

The 'myth' of incumbency should not be exercised to the extent that it becomes such an awesome force capable of crushing anyone who stands in its way.

Therefore, the political tussle in Bayelsa should not be seen as one man or party taking the glory that he has triumphed over the other. The endgame may have come for Governor Sylva even if the courts rule in his favour.

(which is unlikely , going by the weasily way of PDP), it raises serious issues for our democracy. One of the issues is the widely alleged involvement of President Jonathan in the shut out of Sylva from the governorship race of the party. I may not like or agree with Gov. Sylva's method of politics, and there is so much in Nigerian politics we may never understand or all the intrigues and blackmail.

However, to continue to put his offence under wraps (as if it is a cult secret) and as acting National Chairman, Abubakar Baraje has claimed that the governor knows what his 'sins' are, and should own up to his sins, is like looking at history through a rear-view mirror. You can't get the full picture. The governor, to me, did not lose the primaries for which he was not allowed to contest, as much as Mr. Henry Dickson won. The primary was a sham, a mockery of all tenets of democracy. Did it follow the relevant sections of the electoral Act?

There is not proof yet about the swirling allegations that the fall of Sylva has the imprimateur of President Jonathan. Whichever way, these allegations do not help the reputation of the president. It remains a fact, indeed, truth that Mr. President should be interested in who governs his state. The hard fact as I see it is that the president can be passionate about seeing good things happen in Bayelsa, he could still do that without losing his compassion. He may be right in whatever reasons that PDP have told Sylva in secret, without being too righteous as the party is making people believe.

The problem in this kind of power game is that it can result in the president being described as overusing his powers. The risk here is that when you go too far in an overkill, you might become unwittingly, a poor candidate for change. This is an upshot of the enormous power at the disposable of a president cautions that it should be used with restraint. Presidents have been cautioned to be wary of operating from this luxury of strength. There is often a place in history for presidents to stop overdoing their strengths. This is exactly the outcome of a study by Robert E. Kaplan and Robert B. Kasiser. They are co-authors of the best selling book 'Versatile leaders: make the most of your strengths without overdoing it'.

They noted, among other things, that even a mild tendency to overuse one's power can be harmful in the long run. It can lead to what they called a 'diminished capacity on the opposite pole'. Their advice: Be a little too enabling. Take the advice of people who mean well.

I have said this before: that Dr Jonathan has enjoyed more than a share of good fortunes in his political career. His meteoric rise to where he is now as president has not followed a natural and easy path. Neither were his political abilities so evident before now. His has been a combination of fate, tragedy and other human frailties. I hope the president recognizes these 'holiness' of heavenly grace.

He should not frustrate it simply because he wants to see off an 'enemy'. Also it's necessary to say that the president may have some leadership skills. But, it is not unkind to say, in my estimation that the president lacks the essential management skills that a president needs to succeed without overstretching his constitutional powers. He needs persuasive abilities as much as he needs influence to make things happen, not only for himself but country. only last Wednesday, the President kicked out Mrs.

Farida Waziri as boss of anti-graft agency, EFCC. Her sack by fiat raises serious issue of the President overdoing his strengths.

The President appears to be walking on multiple roads at once. There are enough 'yellow flags' cautioning him to be careful before the red flag is shown. When things want to go wrong, they just don't happen suddenly. They begin with telling signals. Today, these signs are in all sectors. Security problems still persist, danger looms if fuel subsidy is removed, government is literally broke as our national debt has reached new frightening heights, while unemployment, especially among our youths, has reached dizzying level of 23 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The economy is in straits and the value of our national currency is declining fast. What's more to drum the message home than the fact that these are critical times? Unless the president is living in denial, Nigeria is getting sicker and harder to govern than anybody could imagine. This is the time to think outside the box, or else, the president may become his own private enemy without knowing it. Any president burdened with these challenges needs to look deep into his soul and ask: what's going on? Power gets the desired results when they are exercised responsibly, not recklessly. Let the president not fritter away his good fortune. Marginal progress is achieved when you overuse your strengths.