The President of any country is a very powerful person, and within the confines of the Constitution of that country can do and undo. He cannot be bought, he cannot be threatened, he cannot be pressured – ordinarily. Yet, hypothetically, if you were President, you could…
If you didn’t have a secondary-school leaving certificate but claimed you did… If you collected your full pensions but claimed you received only the tithe… If you had property all over the country, but claimed you were a pauper…. If you obtained a loan from First Bank but declared only your Union Bank account… If you said BH would be crushed in two months, but refused to support your Predecessor’s fight… and, well it’s been four months since you took office.
And, if you kept looking the other way while unrealistic promises were made on your behalf… If you kept quiet while your followers hounded your Predecessor and his followers… If you knew to help but didn’t, knew to speak but didn’t, all so your Predecessor could falter and be ousted… If you failed to put your Country first, ahead of your own ambition and hunger for power…
And, if your secrets remain kept with a few, a few of whom consequently distract you from Haliburton lest they press their own buttons to unlock Pandora’s box… If your integrity is not the sort that owns up to lapses and mans up to consequences… If you had stolen before, or oversaw stealing, or were in charge while money was stolen, but your ego keeps you from confessing your sins… If you ousted a democratic government for initiating probes into your oversight…
Then, you can be bought, and threatened, and pressured. Then you can be compromised. Then you do the very things you criticised your Predecessor for: you seek regional support for insurgency, you fail to visit bombed sites, and your wife keeps the unconstitutional perks of an unconstitutional office, despite promises to the contrary. And, oh, then you deny all the promises made on your behalf to get you the Seat.
And then you cannot fully declare your assets publicly, you cannot give specific details. And then you cannot command the respect of other Presidents, especially those not planning to take advantage of the situation of things in the name of helping, particularly those aware of how underaged kinsmen voted for you without your publicised objection and how you threatened to constitute a parallel government amidst massive bloodshed should you lose the Election, things unworthy of a genuine democrat you kept claiming to be.
And then you could be pressured to submit a list of rogues, one of whom you had earlier accused of corruption. You could be pressured to give up on your saintly attitude, and quest, and alleged appointment of (only) saints. You could be made to disappoint your teeming young supporters and betray them in appointing the same old cargoes. Then the Change! of empowering a young person to hold the reins after you and complete your good works remains an illusion.
If only you had nothing to hide. If only you had no one to answer to but your country people. If only your integrity was not an ancient smokescreen. After all, integrity is not a matter of publicity; integrity is a way of life and pivots on one’s ability to admit errors, and apologise, and defend even his opponent from unjust attacks.
A President that speaks the truth always, a President that stands for truth always, even at the expense of electoral victory, a President with nothing to hide, cannot be pressured – even hypothetically!
Ayokunle Ayk Fowosire, Sagamu; @adelayok