Power, authority and justice
WHAT ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely‘ is not on my mind today, on this topic. The loss of power and authority and the attendant, concomitant effect on justice and security drive my mind as I do this global analysis. Four personalities across different continents and their fate this week rivet my attention and at times my sympathy, fear and even admiration, albeit grudgingly.
They are first, Nouri Maliki who resigned as PM of Iraq this week after showing clearly that he had never come across the expression that an actor withdraws when the ovation is loudest. The second is Egypt’s former strong man Housni Mubarak, still alive and kicking at his trial in Egypt, where he swore this week that he did not order the killing of Egyptian demonstrators during the 2011 Cairo Street demonstrations that toppled his regime. The third is Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng, just released from detention by the Chinese authorities but whose lawyer said his state of health is such that he is physically ‘destroyed‘ and ‘unintelligible‘.
The fourth is the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan who congratulated the winner of last Saturday’s Osun state elections that I labelled ‘Quarantine elections‘ even though he was the one that put an Ebola like security quarantine on the state electorate in an election that his party, the PDP lost so clearly. At the back of my mind today in analysing the actions and fate of these four political figures is William Shakespeare’s timeless observation that –All the world is a stage and men and women are merely players – who have their exits and entrances. In Iraq Nouri Maliki made his exit but in a rather disgraceful manner. He had lost power and authority before resigning.
Worse still he had lost face because his replacement had been announced by the president who appointed him on his entrance into the stage of power politics in Iraq and he had announced that he would contest his removal in court before dovishly turning in his letter of resignation. So, to Nouri Maliki the Iraqis can say good riddance and good luck to bad rubbish and they will be applauded in saying this to a man who lost power and authority as well as the sovereignty and security of Iraq to the Sunni militant insurgency Islamic state – IS – that has driven over 1.5m Iraqis out of Northern Iraq and was advancing on the capital Baghdad until US Prseident Barak Obama intervened with air raids to save fleeing thousands of Iraqi Christians and Minority Yazids who took refuge in mountains in Northern Iraq. Maliki’s successor a Shia Muslim like him – Engineer Haider al Abadi, Iraq’s Deputy Speaker has made security his priority and has announced hat he welcomes even air strikes from Iran in case the US ones were to end.
Which was something Maliki could not say because he had lost credibility with friends and foes alike. This is not to say that Sunni Violence since the overthrow of their master Saddam Hussein was anything to write home about. The Sunnis in Iraq have behaved like blood thirsty power losers since the coming of elections and democracy gave power to the majority Shia Moslems in the first set of elections after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Indeed they are like Boko Haram in Nigeria in the way they have been killing or converting by force Christians and Kurds who were an integral and historical part of Iraq as a federation under Saddam Hussein.
This was when the Sunnni minority held power, propped up by the Americans to create political stability in Iraq and make oil flow through the Straits of Homuz without Iran’s lurking intervention in that area. It was a similar guarantee of political stability that kept our next subject of discussion Housni Mubarak in power for so long after succeeding the late President Anwar Sadat who was assassinated by the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt for signing the peace treaty with Israel.
Housni Mubarak was the head of the Egyptian Air force in the October 1973 War with Israel when the Egyptians had the upper hand in attacking first and almost defeating Israel before the Israelis rallied round and encircled Egypt’s Third Army in the Sinai leading to humiliating negotiations for the survival of that army. Mubarak was thus a war hero in Egypt before he succeeded Sadat and was in power for decades organising fake elections giving him 90 % of votes cast before the Cairo Tahrir Square Street demonstrations supported by the US and Britain forced him out of power.
He was brought to trial in Egypt in a cage even though he was sick, and his sons too – powerful ministers in their father’s government – were arraigned with him. He was lucky not to have been lynched then because his army played a wise role in kowtowing to the Street revolution and gaining the confidence of the masses then and organising an election that brought the Moslem Brotherhood to power with the election of President Mohammed Morsi whose Islamist policies angered the Egyptian masses leading to his overthrow by a popular military coup.
Now Housni Mubarak’s earlier harsh sentences for embezzlement have been converted to three years and he may soon be free as his boys in the army are in power and army Field Marshal El Sissy is now the newly elected president of Egypt. Housni Mubarak’s fate in Egypt is that of a man who has fallen from grace to grass and who has been made to account for his misuse of power without losing his life in the process.
He reminds me vividly of the Chinese saying – Count no man lucky until his death. I grudgingly wish Housni Mubarak and his sons the best of luck in their political trials as the wind of change nowadays blows in their direction in the land of the Pharaohs. Not that lucky however is our next leader Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng who the Chinese have treated very badly in prison because he dared to criticise the Chinese authorities for their discriminating attitude to Christians and the Falun Gong Movement in China.
This really is a clear case of misuse of power and miscarriage of justice. Gao according to his lawyer has been so brutally treated in prison that he has lost his teeth from the diet of cabbage and a slice of bread he was subsisting on in prison. Of course the Chinese have not extended the Mandela treatment by the Apartheid regime of S Africa to Gao.
Mandela did exams by tuition on Robben Island and learnt the language of his jailors in prison for 27 years. Neither has he been given the Mubarak treatment of a doting Egy ptian army which observed the dictum that he who runs today lives to fight another day and was able to preserve the life of its former Commander in Chief. In the case of Mandela there is no denying that he would not be alive to become the global icon of dignity and freedom if he had been treated the way the wicked Chinese have treated Gao whose wife and children are in the US where Gao is expected to be flown to very soon on his release. I doff my hat to Gao for his courage and conviction and ask the Chinese to cover their face in shame for rusticating and dehumanising an intelligent human being such that he could not be intelligible again after being in state custody.
That really is a disgrace to China. Lastly I salute the good people of Osun state for trooping out as advised and using their mandate to reward good performance in governance in that state. As I wrote last week quarantines such as the security ones mounted by the federal agencies in that state last week should be broken by a brave and vigilant electorate. That is how to get power and authority and enthrone justice as expected henceforth especially in Nigeria’s 2015 elections.
Of course I congratulate the President on the sports manly way of conceding defeat and congratulating the winner in the quarantine election as he has done. I also congratulate the speed with which the Federal government has accepted the offer of a cure for the Ebola virus with the Nano Silva drug flown into the country for use after due research protocol clearance by the Health Ministry.
This shows again that Ebola is an aberration that will go away like quarantine elections. Again I congratulate the President for his new friendly gesture which during the Osun quarantine elections was indeed no more than the friendship of the cocoyam in the midst of goats for the good people of Osun state whose will nevertheless prevailed in that quarantine election.
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