#Article (Archive)

Obama Touches on Clinging to Power

Jan 26, 2009, 4:41 AM

As we listened to the inaugural speech delivered by President Barack Obama on Tuesday 20th January at his swearing in ceremony, many major statements would have struck our special attention. Further to campaign issues such as job creation, an ailing economy, a threatened environment and a host of large-scale wars on foreign soil, the inaugural speech has served as a reminder of the past and the present events from which the future would be carved and determined. We have accounts of the pioneering achievements of the Founding Fathers and able- bodied workers from the African continent to present problems or challenges around the world.

For us in Africa, perhaps we should take particular note of president Obama's reference to "leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West". To such leaders he has warned against the judgement of the nations, which will always be favorable to great achievements rather than works of destruction. The message here is therefore clear that the world prefers hard working, inspiring and productive leaders, and condemns destruction through forms of corruption, autocracy, dictatorial or even pseudo-dictatorial regimes and tendencies.

The new president's statement in this area went further to illustrate the point: "to those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history". Of course we stand very confidently in associating our own principles and convictions along those words of sobering admonition, because how many times have we seen leaders hold on to power by self-perpetuating stratagems often immoral or through abuse of power. Too many of these have overstayed until calamity overtook them through either assassinations or coups, and at times violent deaths. Unfortunately for the affected nations such incidences of forced removals have also cost them serious damage to the economy and/or infrastructure, and tragic losses of lives.

It is therefore our view that these words of President Obama should serve as a positive reminder to leaders around the world, especially our own continent where vestiges of greed, deceit, power-lust, and corruption, have produced and still continue to produce poor governance, lack of transparency, non-observance of the rule of law, deviousness, and unspeakable carnage in senseless wars and conflicts. In this regard we condemn unequivocally the violation of human rights and the rule of law in any country, and the silencing of dissenting voices through suppressive policies, forces, including the barrel of a gun.

We applaud, rather, examples of countries including Ghana, where democracy and the rule of law prevail, and political tenures are limited by constitution and by law.

'Those who have been once intoxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolumet fromĀ  it, even though but for one year, never can willingly abandon it'.

Edmund Burke