Nigeria Matters

Killing For The Sake Of Power

Every man has an Achilles heel: if the one does not have an excessive love for power, he has a strong desire to be stupendously rich or there is a certain woman he desperately needs to possess, impress or suppress. Certain men sometimes have two Achilles Heels. It is either that they have made so much money and want to complement their wealth by being power brokers like what happened to MKO, or they may be powerful people like Fela Anikulapo-Kuti who married so many wives just to prove a point. Either way, whether you like money more than you like your women or that you love women more than you want to be in power, all of it points to being in power, being in charge and being in control. I have not come across a situation where there is one man who exhibits all or none of the three Heels.

A man ordinarily in love with a woman would do anything. He could promise her the world and if care is not taken he would deliver that world right on her thighs. It is the same thing with a man who wants power even at all costs. In certain societies, there was nothing wrong if a man either made a deal with the devil for power or he killed to get there. Killing for power was part of the Machiavellian concept, that even though power is a transient, temporal phenomenon, it should be acquired and safeguarded at all costs. How you got there was not the matter as long as society recognized you as a powerful man as soon as you got there.

There are historical accounts of how killing your rival was part of the normal process you had to pass through to acquire power. The best known I could recollect is the Macbeth story. He had a wife who prayed to the gods to ‘unsex’ her and who also boasted that she had the ability to dash the head of a newborn infant against a rock and spill the poor soul’s brains on the floor. Together with the witches who were an artistic ploy by the playwright to show the influence superstition and religion contributed in the mad quest for power, the stage was set for Macbeth to carry out what looked like a palace coup against King Duncan. This story, it must be stated right here has a historical antecedent. There actually was a Macbeth who murdered a Duncan, usurped the Scottish throne and ruled with an iron fist for eleven years. Shakespeare merely highlighted this in a play to show that the Renaissance ethos that started in Italy with the Dantes and the DaVincis did not have any respect for a bloody route to power as was canvassed partly by Machiavelli. Instead, writers like Rousseau, Voltaire and Montesquieu preached the new doctrine of the separation and devolution of powers, the rule of law and the principle of benevolent dictatorship. That is why people no longer have to kill their rivals. They engage them by drawing their swords in a battle of wits and throwing verbal hand grenades and hurling repartees the way Winston Churchill used to do. With just a speech at Parliament, he could kill an opponent’s idea without pointing a gun or drawing his sword. Today, civilized people would rather employ a lot more guile, a little more of subterfuge, a manipulation of information and a deploring of a vast army of alliances that had been carefully cultivated over the years. Even at that, most had run against the tide of popular sensibilities as was witnessed in the Watergate scandal. That is why to kill an opponent in the game of power is taking the dirty game of politics too far. Taking an opponent’s life exposes us as the weak link and weakling in the political chess game of ideas. It also goes to show that those who aspire to lead by killing still live in that past where power is taken by force and political achievement is measured by Macbethan and Machiavellian standards.

At the end of the day, what we should tell those who are getting into politics because they have a passion for the uplift of humanity is not to be intimidated by those who kill for power. Rather, they should just ordinarily realize that the game of politics is a game for everyone-everyone in this context to mean that politics is mixed bag of all sorts of people, particularly those who are mostly interested in their pockets. The approaches that these people recognize are the Macbethan and Machiavellian, that the end justifies the means. Without any iota of respect for life, they would go right ahead to snuff life out you if they perceive you as an obstacle. The sad thing about all of this is that some of these people carrying out some of these dastardly activities carry them out because they may just want to impress some woman or just love the feel of power. That’s all. If politicians on this other divide realize this, they should be able to organize their own personal and private security apparatchik rather than depend on a somewhat compromised security structure that has never been on our side. For instance, why should I be a big ‘un in politics and then make myself a sitting duck by having only one abode?

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