Power Must Change Hands – Or Must It?

by Sheyi Oriade

Anyone familiar with the spiritual thunderings of the colourfully and gloriously named Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) will recognise the above quote, as belonging to their rich corpus of imaginative invocations, to which, their ever zealous adherents religiously give energetic and prophetic voice, whenever they gather together in intense intercession, to deliver tutorial reminders to the Prince of Darkness on the subject of the proper situation, and exercise, of proprietary rights to power on Earth.

Now, one acknowledges that a mere textual replication of the above invocation conveys nothing of the resounding aural resonance that it generates in its hearers, when heard, thundered in unison by hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of fiery mountaineers engaged in fervent fevered prayer. It is not known, however, whether or not the Prince of Darkness is a good listener or learner, or what possible effect these thunderings actually have on him. Whether they be of an intimidating, overwhelming, dispossessing, or simply deafening nature, is an issue, upon which one can only speculate. But that’s an altogether different matter.

Given the inherent soundness of this formulaic invocation and the loudness with which it is frequently proclaimed by ardent adherents of MFM, it is somewhat surprising that it has escaped the notice of the nation’s political lexicologists, whose responsibility it is to coin phrases which enrich the treasury of our national political vernacular, helping it to achieve wider currency amongst the general populace.

That they have not deemed it appropriate to appropriate it from MFMs sole grasp, and put it to broader political use, is tantamount to dereliction on their part. Particularly, when one considers the fact, that, as an invocation it has tremendous utility and incredible crossover appeal as a powerful sloganeering mantra to remind our political class of the ephemeral nature of political power.

But its instructive utility is not limited to the political class alone. It is equally beneficial to the electorate as well. As it serves as an ever present reminder of the enormous power that resides at their disposal, and which they can put to good effect to affect the nature of change in our political system. Predominantly and prominently through their acceptance and/or rejection of political candidates at different levels of elective political engagement.

The importance of the electorate’s awareness of this power, is all the more pronounced at this time, as the wheel of the national electoral cycle rapidly approaches a critical turn in its vertiginous motions; bringing into view, as it does so, the prospect of the 2015 elections and what they portend for the nation. So never has the truth of this invocation been more pertinent than it is now. For as the electorate approaches this critical juncture in the nation’s political journeyings, it must, on arrival at this crucial point, confront a series of serious leadership questions, to which it must provide answers. In order to determine whether Nigeria (at all levels of political engagement) has any chance of being led in a principled, progressive and purposeful way; or whether it will persist in being propelled along the path of profligacy and perplexing purposelessness.

But in attempting to answer these questions satisfactorily, the electorate must realise that its ability to do so is somewhat circumscribed. To the extent, that its ability to exercise preference in elections is restricted by the quality – or lack thereof – of the candidates presented before it by the main political parties.

So as the main political parties (mindful as they are of the motions of the national electoral cycle) busy themselves working out the mechanics and modalities of their different selection processes, it is incumbent upon them to factor into their plans, projections and permutations, considerations which not only touch upon the eligibility and electability of their preferred candidates, but which also touch upon their suitability and ability to govern for the good of the people and the country.

The burden placed on the political parties by the electorate in this regard, must be made to weigh heavily on their shoulders. No longer should the electorate act in complicity with political parties in accepting unsuitable candidacies on spurious grounds. Rather, it must ensure that its acceptance or rejection of electoral candidates is based on mental, and not sentimental considerations.

For it is only when it begins to act in more discerning and demanding ways, that the mainstream political parties will begin to take notice of its concerns and exercise greater care in selecting the right calibre of candidates for electoral consideration. Unfortunately, since our politics, is more often than not, practised in an ideological vacuum, the electorate is denied the opportunity of accepting or rejecting candidates on the basis of their ideological convictions or leanings. So it is often difficult to anticipate what to expect, or what not to expect, from candidates in such an ideology-free zone.

Ballot box, Nigeria

One important factor which should always remain paramount in the mind of the electorate ahead of elections, is that their interaction with, and influence over, the democratic process is very limited. In matter of fact, it is reducible to those brief moments that they spend thumbing their ballot papers on periodic polling days. Beyond this point, their involvement in the democratic process is largely peripheral. From then on, elected politicians are left to devise their own devices. Devices, which in our political experience rarely ever coincide with the aspirations of the people. So it is critical that the electorate ensures that that momentary interface it has on polling day, has, and retains, an essential elasticity which stretches well beyond the moment, by virtue of its wise polling choices.

Like the impassioned devotees of MFM who maintain constant vigilance towards their sworn enemy – the infernal one – as they wrestle with him to protect their proprietary rights to power on Earth; so too must the Nigerian electorate be vigilant in order to secure its proprietary rights to an improved present and a better future. This they must do, by not only insisting on the right type of candidates to represent their interests, but also by proactively scrutinising the performance or non-performance of these political functionaries once in office.

Such scrutiny will ensure, that the electorate is left in no doubt about the standard of performance and stewardship of the various political functionaries across the country. To the extent that, whenever the wheel of the national electoral cycle arrives at that predetermined turn in its vertiginous motions, when elections must be held; it (the electorate) can ask itself the following question, based on its perception or experience of their performance or non-performance:

‘Must Power Change Hands’?

And, if it is, in anyway dissatisfied with the performance of the ruling political class at whatever level of political engagement, it can then decide, and declare, without equivocation, that:

‘Power Must Change Hands’!




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