Political power, human conscience and dividends of democracy have a triangular relationship that is vital for good governance and the stabilization of constitutional democracy in our country and in other under-developed or developing countries in Africa. These three concepts are tied together or closely related in the execution of social contracts because of their physical and spiritual connections in leadership and governance. They form the nucleus of governmental relations with the people, as well as the relationship between political leaders, elected representatives of the people, performance and development in general.
Political power means the will of the people freely given to an individual or group of people for the good of all; an authority that allows for the administration of public resources and implementation of policies for society. That’s my crafting of the definition of political power. According to Talcott Parsons, a Professor of Sociology in Harvard University, political power can be “coercive” or surrendered “willingly” to an authority, person or group of persons. For, John M. Pfiffner and Frank P. Sherwood, political power is acquired and exercised through politics. Politics involves the pursuit, acquisition and exercise of political power. Next, is the conceptualization or definition of “Human Conscience”. To provide sufficient definition will be to delve into the realm of spirituality from whence conscience emanates. Dr D.K Olukoya of the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) defined conscience as “God’s policeman”, a still small voice that prompts and reminds you of your good and bad conduct, bahaviour, action or inactions. As for Wikipedia.org, Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment that assists in distinguishing right from wrong, the voice within and the inner light.
Lastly, in this segment of conceptualization, let’s take a look at “Dividend of Democracy”. To me, it speaks of the “goodies and rewards” flowing from good governance in a constitutional democracy. The concept was coined by super politicians in Nigeria to describe their efforts in the provision of basic amenities for the people.
The questions are: “Why do people seek political power? Who has a “Conscience?”. And, to what extent has political power and conscience facilitated the delivery of “dividends of democracy” to the people?” This article will be based on the above hypothetical questions and an attempt shall be made to deal with the subject matter without fear or favour. The bad image of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) today is as a result of the misuse of political power entrusted to a few who have lined their pockets with unspeakable amounts of money from the federal, state and local government treasuries. Some political analysts have said that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, as the pioneer President produced by the ruling party, did not do much to ensure that quality leadership is entrenched in the polity and in governance. No blueprint was handed over to the Governors and Local Government Chairmen as a template to measure performance. Failure to check the activities of elected political actors under the ruling party has been alleged to be grossly responsible to the high wave of corruption and reckless looting of the treasuries at all tiers of government. The lack of internal monitoring of performances at all levels of government opened the floodgate of massive fraud and corruption which the Nigerian people are suffering for today.
The political power is not meant to promote or serve self-interest; it is not to be used to oppress the people economically, socially or politically. The power so entrusted is not to impoverish the very people who elected them neither is it to accumulate primitive wealth. By primitive wealth, it is meant the accumulation of riches more than enough for one’s immediate needs or the accumulation of wealth for children yet unborn and for future generations. As it is today, political power is a means of accumulation of wealth by a large percentage of the political class who have deliberately diverted funds meant for developments in their various States, Constituencies, Senatorial Districts and Local Government Areas, into their private bank accounts. The next question to ask is “Does the political class in Nigeria or in your locality have conscience?” To answer this question will be to examine the lifestyle, the quality of life and the comfort of the active political class and to also cross-check the level of development that has taken place under their control as well as examine the level of poverty in the society today. Since conscience has been called ’God’s policeman”, a political leader with a conscience will always ask questions like; have I done well? In what way has my political power or office affected my people or community positively? What will I be remembered for if I am no longer serving in this capacity? What more can I do to bring quality of life and development to my people and community? These questions will always be in the minds and spirit of any political actor with conscience.
On the other hand, political actors without conscience will not bother to ask himself or herself the questions put up above. The focus will be on the acquisition of properties within and without; primitive accumulation of wealth spread across all kinds of financial institutions; allocation of employment and empowerment slots to members of their immediate families, to the detriment of the vast majority of the people. It is also the style of conscienceless political actors to “dangle carrots” to a few critical persons in their communities to appease them for supporting their selfish and self-centered leadership. They also don’t bother themselves about attracting industries and practical development to their communities.
It is, therefore, safe to assert that political power exercised with “good conscience and equity” brings prosperity and development to the people. Conscience will raise questions like “Is it fair for you to enjoy these huge wealth and riches while your people are in darkness, while they die of hunger, underdevelopment and lack qualitative education? It will always prompt you to do that which is good but it is you who will decided whether to obey that “still small voice of God” or not.
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State can be described as a political actor or leader with conscience. He decided to listen to his conscience and today he stands out to be the best civilian Governor in the history of Nigeria’s constitutional democracy. Transforming Akwa Ibom from a “heap of dustbin” to “a 21st century modern commercial and tourist city” is a matter of conscience.
Away from Akwa Ibom, Edo State used to be described as a “Civil Servant State” by past leaders of that State who say development can never take place there due to the meager resources from the centre and that the State lack other means of financial capabilities to foster development and empower the people. But as you read this article, Edo State has produced a man with conscience in the person of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole whom the Edo people fondly call “Osho Baba”. With his God-given conscience, Comrade Oshiomole has transformed Edo State into a semi-mega city. Governor Ud uaghan, President Jonathan, Senator Okowas, the Senate President David Mark, Hon. Tony Elumelu, the Senator Smart Adeyemi, Hon. Evelyn Ojakovo, et al, are some of the political actors who have etched their names in gold at their various levels, States, constituencies. Truly, it takes good conscience to deliver reasonable qualitative and quantitative dividend of democracy.
In conclusion therefore, political power, human conscience and dividend of democracy are inter-connected and one without the other will frustrate the process.