All that we pursue in life is for a purpose or a reason even for as routine as drinking water to quench thirst, much more the quest for power, position and wealth.
Immediately we reach that end or purpose, we must put a lever on the further search and focus on its righteous, altruistic, utilitarian and purposeful value, using it for the desired end of public good and service.
For, if we seek it more after its fulfilment and become rather engrossed in its enjoyment, we are likely to suffer some consequences of its obsession.
If we do not take account of this reality, the obsession can become an albatross on us, a crippling burden, a licentious preoccupation, even a devastating killer at zenith or when it is no more needful or relevant and when we cannot deliver on the expectations associated with its acquisition.
Unfortunately for most of us pursuing power and office, it is the moment that we reach wealth and power that we easily lapse into the forgetfulness of its essence, getting inebriated in its obsession instead of becoming more visionary to deliver on its utilitarian essence.
So rather than use it to serve or work, even with others while we are in power or when we reach the position of wealth and authority in life, we privatize it, becoming fretful and suspicious in the process of exercising it, or, we become unduly arrogant and vicious in affirming arrival, presence or authority.
In this mentality, we also become insecure, unnecessarily protective and defensive, sometimes relying on strange forces and special powers to survive. We are captured by and in power and thus ring ourselves with a coterie of advisers who take advantage of our fear of loss or desperation for self-preservation to lead us on their own personal vision.
We are isolated from those we are meant to serve or those that will genuinely guide us against derailment in office. In being our advisers, our captors rip us off, making millions from our obsession.
For fears and concerns for survival, we lose our independence to our so-called consultants and advisers, and because they are the kingmakers, their views must be sacrosanct.
Unconsciously, we cede our power to them, releasing the keys of our vaults and providing them with easy access to the commonwealth or the trust we are supposed to jealously protect and deliver on.
Virtually we abdicate our office to them, just because we want to occupy the seat of honour or grandeur. It is what they bring to us that we approve and their views become our vision. In the hands of such advisers, we become slaves or stooges.
When we seek and reach power, there is a certain attitude we must always adopt in life to demystify it, so that we are not consumed by its inebriation or sunk in its desperation and depression when we lose them. This attitude is conditioned by an awareness that power and wealth is not an end but a means to an altruistic end of public and godly service.
According to a saying concerning power, almost a cliché now, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Same for wealth. Indeed, it is difficult to define which comes first because of the Yoruba saying, Olowolayemo, that only the wealthy do mankind revere because the reason for seeking power by many is mostly for wealth and fame.
When seeking for, or on attaining power, the following admonition would suffice to avoid its desperation and corruption. First, we must be conscious that power comes from God and it is bestowed it on whomever Allah wills. No matter our efforts at attaining power, office or position, if it will not be in our ultimate or best interest, it would still elude us.
But if we cheat and compromise ourselves to achieve it, three things are likely to happen to us. First, we can become a perpetual slave of the office living in trepidation of its loss or retrieval. We may also never get the benefits of the office which originally fired our lust for it or it stops as soon as we come in.
The third or most fatal is our tenure becomes extremely problematic or burdensome to the extent of losing our peace, with no time for friends, family and normal interests we usually enjoyed.
Issues that were never happening in that office will become our preoccupation as we will continue to witness crisis and be consumed in dousing fire all the time. Regrets set in in such circumstance or we may even be disconnected from our creator because of the demands and pressures of power.
In fact, we may inevitably become drug dependent, pumping our adrenaline all the time to be at peak performance in power.
Second, all power seekers must be conscious that power is a trust, and they must be ever ready to withstand its pressure and bear its consequences. Do not seek power if you are fundamentally deficient in character because what is hidden of your flaws becomes easily exposed in power.
Third, never lobby for power or fawn your qualities so as to impress others whose endorsement you seek for power. Allah appoints and chooses. The best office is the one you are appointed or assigned by the public without contestation or controversy by the system that prepared you and found you worthy of such assignment.
It is in this case I have a problem with the so-called democratic choice and cabal anointment when anyone can buy his way to the office. That is why people without visible income, without experience, can be easily swayed by dirty money from profane trade.
Power should never be a do or die affair, not a war. So, we should never be desperate in our search for it, nor should we be depressed when we lose it or when the whistle is blown for our time up.
Power is a trust held on behalf of the public and to them must we always render our account of service on a termly basis. So, while in power, we must be open and accountable to the people.
As we are conscious that we are also bearing a trust on behalf of the ultimate assigner or appointer or promoter, we must be ready for rendering the final account to our Lord on the day of judgement if we believe in the inevitability of the Final hour.
Finally, whether we are in public office or not, we all exercise power in the assignment or office that we are entrusted at our various levels, phases, contexts and circumstances of our existence. None of us will be excused from accounting, therefore our attitude in searching winning or losing power should be that of humility, calmness and responsibility.
There should be no undue exultation when we attain power nor depression when we lose it because in either case, wealth, office and power are burden and trial. Attaining them is not guarantee of success
True men of power and wealth are not victims of power, never afraid to lose it nor desperate to retain it. In their exercise of power and use of wealth, they are firm and focused, exercising reason and discretion at all times and when they lose it or their term is ending, they feel no fear of the future because they are secure in their conscience.
The real essence of power is not serving personal interest. Power is exercised for creating or delivering value. It finds illustration in the story of the creation of man for all believers in the revealed books. For instance, In the Quranic story of Adams creation, the man was created to be Allah Caliph, vicegerent, ambassador, trust bearer to exercise authority on earth on behalf of Allah,
So all those in power, spiritual or temporal, should brace up to challenges. No rejoicing. For all losers of power however, it might be in their best interest that the Almighty does not want to subject them to a burden or trial they would never escape judgement or punishment.
Let them take solace in the realization that only Allah appoints and empowers. Ultimately, the real losers may be those that upstaged or schemed them out in the power game.
They will be responsible for their own mischief on judgment day.
By Abdulwarees Solanke, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Diplomacy and Management, is an acting Deputy Director, Strategic Planning & Corporate Development at Voice of Nigeria (VON)
Strategic Planning & Corporate Development
Voice of Nigeria
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