Sometimes in life, you don’t have to drink or smoke for one to be intoxicated, but a little money or power can make someone intoxicated to forget his/her discipline. We are in an era where those in the corridors of power feel superior over the inferiors or even over their relatives. I wonder if it’s the power that actually intoxicates or if it is the person in power that wants to be controlled by power. Besides, power is the ability to influence or outright control the behaviour of people, according to Wikipedia. This thought first came to my head about how some people use their office to look down on others or behave in a certain negative way. These people tend to just lose control of their behaviour when they find themselves in a position of authority. A wise man once said, “You don’t know a man’s character until you give him power.” I know some people that changed their character immediately after assuming a big office. They start forming unnecessary busy, lacking tolerance, becoming arrogant and being cocky.
My focus today is how people treat family and friends when they get into power. It makes me wonder whether if it is the power that makes them behave the way they do towards other people or, is it just something that is inbuilt in them, not minding who they hurt. Following some incidents shared by loved ones in addition to some personal experiences, I have come to conclude that power and intoxication are two different things, but, often times, people bring them together to the point that one can’t tell between the two. I have a friend that we practically grew up together, but he is my senior. We were very close that he shared his problems with me and sometimes he consulted me for advice. He was always calling me to talk about a lot of issues. He called me one faithful morning that he wants to contest for his state governorship seat, that I should advise him. I said well, not a bad idea, but he should start with the House of Representatives. Or, if he must start big, he should go for the senator seat. My thought was that, at least, before his first four years in office he would have learned how to play the politics and become the master of his games. At that point, he could start thinking how to be a governor. He said I was right. We all laughed and dropped the phone.
He eventually heeded to my advice and contested for the senate and won. I congratulated him and also advised him to be kind and humble to people and he should carry his old friends along because they are his true friends, not those that he would meet in power. He said to me, “Haba! Hadiza you know me, I will never change.” Some months after, I tried his line and he told me he was appointed the chairman committee on blah, blah, blah. Since then, he stopped calling me. I would call him like two to three times in a week he would not return my calls, until after some weeks. One evening, he returned my call and told me to be calling him ‘Distinguish’, not by his name alone. I was shocked to discover that power has gotten to his head. I said I was sorry. That was the last time we spoke. I got many bitter complaints from our mutual friends that he doesn’t pick their calls and even when they see him in public he turned his face away from them.
Another scenario happened to a very close friend of mine with her childhood friend. My friend was her ‘Maid of Honour’ during her first marriage. After she was divorced some years later she had no other friend to lean her shoulder on but my friend. She always goes to her house to relax, eat, and shower especially if she has a date. She sometimes borrowed her clothes and jewellery when she has an occasion to attend. After a while, she started going out with a governor and later got married to him. Four months after the marriage, during the month of Ramadan, the first lady hosted an Iftar (breaking of fasting) and invited lots of family and friends. That my close friend was invited and on getting there she saw a lot of women sitting on the rug. She decided to sit on the chair, thinking that as closed as she was with the governor’s wife, she deserved to be seated on the chair. So my friend went and sat down on a chair close to her Excellency. Immediately after, a personal security to the governor’s wife hurriedly told her to sit down on the rug like the rest of the women. My friend became numb and speechless. When she looked at the governor’s wife for intervention, she quickly avoided eye contact with my friend, pretending not to be aware of what was going on.
On seeing that, my friend politely stood up and found her way out of the government house. She never returns to the government house ever since and the governor’s wife never bothered to call her, until after their tenure in the government, which was when she called my friend with a different phone number. My friend picked her call because she didn’t know who the caller was, but on hearing the voice at the other end, my friend knew she was the one and dropped the phone immediately. To cut a long story short, they are no more friends.
Moreover, I know of a governor that happened to be a friend of mine. He gave me an appointment to see him at the government lounge at 10 am. I went there and the moment I entered the big and beautiful sitting room of the governor, I saw eight men with him, including his ADC and his son-in-law, looking at the door’s direction where I was coming from. That made me lost my balance on a high-heeled shoe and I fell down. He quickly came and helped me to my seat. The other men that were seated, except his ADC that was standing, were like ‘ooh dear! Sorry’. For the governor, it did not stop at that as he had to collect my shoe, put it on his laps on his white cleaned Kaftan that he wore and started fixing it for me, because the shoe was a bit spoiled. He fixed it and told me to manage it for now until I get home. He also saw me off to the car and shut the door for me. He did all those things without minding his position as a governor. Honestly, I was impressed. This is what I call humility and gentleman. However, with all these things happening, I got interested and started interviewing people, my finding was shocking. I decided to share it. It makes me wonder and I asked myself does power really change a person or not? If power changes a person why was the governor not changed? Does that mean not all people allow power to change them? Maybe it is inbuilt in human. That just needs a little kick to come out, that is when you know the true colour of a person. Anyways I leave the question open to my audience. All I want to say is that people in power should be humble and compassionate to their family and friends because they are the true and loyal ones they have, not those they met in power.
And no matter how many years one stays in power, a day will come when they will definitely step down and another person will be in the same position they left. Therefore, never look down on anyone, as the saying goes, “Life is turn-by-turn” The family and friends they ignored and didn’t help while they were in power are the same people that would be there for them, when they step down.
Consequently, I have seen people in the corridors of power are very humble and kind to their inferiors. I saw big men and women going out of their way to do one good thing or the other for those below their standards. I heard a governor sitting with a janitor on a staircase at the back of the governor’s office, I’ve heard a president crawling and playing with his cook’s kid. Big politicians, billionaires, businessmen all at a point in time sit and eat, gist or even walk with those that are far below them. What is the arrogance for, while in the eyes of the creator we are all equal? Be humble. It doesn’t cost a dime to be humble in life.