Justice Danladi, CCT Chairman

Danladi Umar: When power intoxicates

By Abachi Ungbo

SIR: Recently, Justice Danladi Umar of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), walked into the eye of the storm with reckless abandon; in a saner society, he would have by now jumped or be pushed out of office.

Subjecting a security guard to indignities for innocuously asking for compliance with the parking rules was a naked display of power. And it reminded me of the advertisement slogan of the iconic tyre makers Pirelli that – “Power is nothing without control.” The reprehensible action has brought sharp focus on unbridled power and its misapplication by powerful people.

Consider the power of gushing water. It could be destructive or beneficial depending on how we channel it. So, power is neutral. It is left for the holder to decide on how to use it.

The quest for power and influence is inherent in mankind but the need for control and influence through acquisition of so much of it comes with a corrupting effect. Every day, the seduction of power impels otherwise ‘normal’ people to lose balance between power and control.

Not few of our leaders are routinely betraying signs of megalomania and its close cousin narcissism. They are in a delusional state that constrains them into thinking that they are superior to others and any perceived challenge on their power in whatever form is not taken kindly.

Indubitably, strange things happen in the brains of powerful people. Not a few studies have shown the effect of power to the brain and psychology of the holder. Dacher Keltner, psychologist and author of “Paradox of power “with two decades in research lucidly and exhaustively provided explanation. He established inextricable link between power holders and impulsivity; proved that power makes people more likely to break rules because they believe rules and laws are not made for them and also show tendency to objectify people-see other people as a means to their grandiose ends and exhibit a sense of entitlement. In addition, they easily lose self-restraint, break social codes, show less empathy and compulsively lie.

So, those completely under the tight grip of power prioritize their interest, thinking, desires against the views of others. Aside the psychology factor, the social factor plays a part in the misuse of power not least the people around them and also the larger society acting more as enablers by failing to make them accountable.

Sadly, as the pathology burgeons, they seek to dispense with objective aides and instead surround themselves with pliable and sycophantic underlings.

A lot of people carry with them inflated images. They simply carry on with an immortality swagger! The allure and lustre of the office is so blinding that they fail to see the transience of today. Political power holders need to remind themselves every day that “Power has only one duty- to secure the social welfare of the people.” Holders of power need to evaluate themselves routinely, stay humble and rooted in reality.

Silence is an oblique form of acquiescence to unacceptable actions by power holders. Impunity shouldn’t be enabled by silence. They need to be held accountable.

  • Abachi Ungbo, abachi007@yahoo.com