Power that flows through barrels of gun
By Chukwuemerie Anyene
Legitimacy is the acceptability of government by citizens of a country. Such government must derive their power and mandate from the people. The legitimacy of a government comes through popular support, regular free and fair election.
However, it is not all government that derive their power and support from the citizens. Military regimes for instance do not seek the support or approval of the people before seizing power.
Sometimes, however, they can legitimise their government through good policies and programmes. People are the ultimate sources of political power.
People are the electorates while the constitution is the rules and regulations. In democracy, sovereignty reside with the people and the forms of electorate that choose the leader.
People decide who wields political power. Again, the constitution decides who is qualified or not qualified to exercise political power.
Power is the authority to enforce decision and compel obedience from others while authority is the right to command and direct others. Power usually involves the use of force or sanction whereas authority needs not apply force to achieve obedience.
Power is often heavier in the use of penalty in their authority. Authority is based on consent whereas power may rely solely on force. Both power and authority can be delegated hierarchically.
Authority is the formal or legal right to make and enforce laws and policies which the citizens must obey. It implies the acceptance of someone’s right to rule irrespective of the sanctions the ruler may possess.
Legal authority is backed by government enacted laws. Police, for instance, has the right to arrest and detain offenders.
Political authority informs the followers’ belief that rulers such as igwe, emir and obi are chosen by divine, as such, obeying them implies obeying divine.
Political authority is exercised by leaders who possess unusual qualities which make them acceptable to their followers. Power is the ability to control others action through means of physical, social or political sanction.
Power is excercised through coercion, passionate appeal, mutual agreement, persuasion and concensus. By compelling obedience, others may be forced to change their actions against their will.
Getting people do what they would not have done through excessive use of power can lead to potential resistance such as revolution, demonstration, strike, protest and alienation.
Power is relational, intentional, impositional and alienative in nature. Forms of power include political, personal, economic, expert, normative and physical power.
Political power enables someone make a decision that would be obeyed by all members of a given society. It appears superior to other forms of power, in that political decisions are binding on other forms of power. Presidents, heads of state or governors wield this power over members of the society.
The difference between political power and other forms of power is that political power affects the whole society irrespective of age, sex, status while other forms of power are limited to some sections of the society.
Again, political power is superior to other forms of power. Wielder of political power controls wielders of other forms of power.
More so, other forms of power constitute sources of political power. Politicians use the resources to coarce, buy support or influence members of the society.
Physical resources include weapons such as atomic bomb, inter-continental ballistic missiles, armoured cars and others. Physical power is exercised by a stronger or more energetic person. For instance, boxer who beats another boxer to submission is said to wield this kind of power over his fellow boxer.
Economic resources involve money or wealth. Economic power is the power you exercise over someone because of your wealth and control of means of production. Rich men and rich nation-states wield this kind of power over poor men and poor nation-states respectively.
Personal resources inform physical attractiveness. Personal power, sometimes called bottom power, is based on someone’s physical attractiveness, love and affection which others are dependent on.
A lady or wife wields this power on her boyfriend or husband respectively. You may not like to do something but your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband might compelling you to do it against your wish. You obey because of the love you have for each other. A leader can use his handsomeness or her beauty to secure obedience.
Normative resources suggest spiritual or moral character. Expert resources are based on superior information or knowledge.
Normative power is based on morality. Popes, primates, archbishops, bishops, archdeacons, reverend canons, reverend father and other priests, pastors or church ministers wield this power over other worshippers and congregation because they are seen as holier or more righteous than them.
Expert power is based on expert knowledge of professionals like teacher, doctors, engineers and others.
In all, political power belongs to the state and is only exercised by an individual on behalf of the state. Other forms of power are more or less individualistic.