They are gods to be glorified, worshiped and adored. Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Cf. Daniel 3:16-28), their subjects constitute a fertile ground for intimidation as they rule with a fait that is beyond compare. No one dares them. In their self-conceited grandeur, they pontificate without challenge or resistance. They create “the golden statue of themselves” as an object of adulation for all. Those who dare must have a skin of iron. To survive, you have to massage their ego and teach others same. With sounds “horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, or any other instrument(s),” they demand cult-worship from praise singers. Their paranoid exasperation against those who resist comes like a volcano. Hailing the Master becomes a meal ticket in the land of the hungry. Like their inflated egos, their wills, desires and policies are objects of worship as they themselves.
“Prostrate yourselves and worship the statue I have made” becomes an abiding edict – failure to obey becomes a ticket to the land of no return. To subjects who have their heads and hearts working and are determined to challenge the status quo, they construct a fiery burning furnace of imprisonment and climbing down on the media and freedom of expression. Mind you, the King wanted to muffle the voices of the three young men. Like the Roman Senate of old, they do not err and if they err, they do not correct lest they accept that they have erred. When their subjects cry, they talk with a straight face: “I am acting in your interest.” Yet, when they misfire or miscalculate, they play victim. The Nebuchadnezzar’s of our time hide under the skin of integrity to push their agenda. It is only a matter of time that the real colour of the chameleon is known.
By this time, untold hardship, a collapsed economy, insurgency and intractable insecurity are rife. For all they care, the citizens languish in poverty without electricity, pipeborne water, good roads, qualitative education, assurance of three square meals and above all, a descent future. They are stuck with recycling their ilk who protect the cycle like a hen to her checks. They dread intelligent young people so the put them in the back seat. In case you’re in doubt, search for Nero, Hitler, Lenin et al. In Africa, the tales of Mobutu, Amin, Gaddafi and our homegrown Abacha comes begging. They relish been called Maradona or benevolent dictators. With a vomitorium in place, their lavish feasts are reminiscent of ancient Egyptian epicureanism. With a posh lifestyle, designer wardrobe and expensive overseas’ trips for medical tourism and other oversight luxuries, they look over the poor as an infantry set for battle – A battle of uncommon comfort at the expense of the citizenry.
Though dressed in the underpants of ethnicity and religion, they claim sainthood. Like the three young men who survived the jaws of the biblical despot, those who outlive the fiery furnace of leaders who abuse power must have a Divine helmet. “God dey” as the poor man prays provides “the fourth man” who comes to the rescue. Although this might take time, in Africa, the gods are not in a hurry. While the mighty hand of God is not too short to save, men and women of goodwill in union with those who have been pampered by the Almighty ought to stand in the breach. Unless educators and others who occupy the middle class prepare the young to face despotism, it is unlikely for society to heal. In the interim, those who relax on the couch of power while the nation burns should remember the biblical dictum: “Vain hope for safety is the horse, despite its power, it cannot save” (Psalm 33:17). For their defenders, when the time is ripe, Noah’s Ark would spit them out. From the Pharaoh of Egypt to our “darling” handlers, time is what comes between leaders and the led.
Just as Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the God of the young men, someday, they would sit in their closet and either confess their misdeeds or face karma. In both cases, retribution is a check that won’t bounce. Governments come and go but the people remain. The game of thrones powered by 48 laws of power appears only as a prophylactic. Long after they are gone, their memories would best be found in the notebooks of students of history or politics. To their dismay, their boys would desert them in style. That’s a big man’s nightmare. Perhaps it is good to end with a quote from the Master of Literature William Shakespeare whom some academics claim is Francis Bacon writing in a pseudo name: “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with [our despots].” With this quote from Julius Caesar, I rest my case.