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Doctors in power practice

If the question is asked, who are the most powerful professionals? The answer simply would be, physicians. No other professionals, not the generals and or the mechanics, not the coup-makers or armed or pen robbers, etc, come near the doctors in their decisive influence over the affairs of men and settled societies.

Yes, it is true medical luminaries, from Galen to Harvey, are as important, historically, as Plato or Napoleon. But that is not exactly the point. For Galen, Harvey, etc, their historic achievements are due to their technical contributions. But here we write of doctors as powers in imperial courts, as powers behind the purple, in the presidency and by the governors’ lodges. And like Adam Smith’s invisible hands, these doctors are just as decisive as they are unseen. Today, we shall help to remove the veil.
What makes the doctor éminence grise statistics more wondrous is that it is largely unacknowledged and un-speculated upon. Unacknowledged? Yes. And the doctors won’t be the only persons whose powers shine beneath the radar. Poets, in humour or earnestness, have been characterised as the unacknowledged legislators of the world. Or is it really the word? Is Soyinka as powerful as the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who himself is a trained physician?
But physicians in decisive power and influence? That would set many wondering. However, the reason is because they may not have applied their minds to the question. Otherwise, the fact of it would have been self-evident.
First of all, the following. Professions can be characterised into two broad categories. Category A. These are professions in which the professionals are on the average in less leverage than their clients. In this class are the shoe-shiners, accountants, etc. Perhaps, the fact of this is too obvious to need further canvassing.
And Class B types. These are professions in which the professionals are on the average wealthier and in more leverage than their clients. And, naturally, man being a power-hungry beast, these professionals exhibit the fact of their leverages and power, even if involuntarily.
The fact of it is that clients, in spite of themselves, go to them as supplicants, almost as sinners go to priests. Makers of this power list include doctors and pastors, among others. We are only interested in doctors.
And the fact of this is in the open. Let us quote a confessional.
“I am thinking I am 75. I thought I was 74 but I was told I’m 75. But I have explained it to the public that, as a General, I used to give orders. But now, I take orders. The doctors told me to feed my stomach and sleep for longer hours.” (I thought I was 74 but was told I’m 75 – Buhari. http://punchng.com/i-thought-i-was-74-but-was-told-im-75-buhari/)
Now, Muhammadu Buhari is the President of the most powerful black nation on earth. Yet, as he self-confesses, he comes and goes from his doctors dazed, unsure [of things, even of his own age]. Perhaps it could be put this way. Before physicians, a Caesar, in the form of Buhari, becomes self-robbed of his plenipotentiary and imperial powers. And there is nothing idiopathic in this. It is a typical relationship between every Caesar and his physician. Before his physician, mighty Caesar is a toy boy, a weakling.
The implication of this is a reversed “pecking order.” Suddenly, a doctor, unelected, perhaps unelectable, acquires immense and immeasurable powers over a Caesar, over a Buhari. Unlike other minions, including Buhari’s allegedly most powerful lieutenants or generals, his physician is not in the game to humour him.
As every party in the trade knows, it is only the physician who enjoys this privilege. All these allegedly, powerful chiefs, of army, naval and air or anywhere staffs are only powerful outside Aso Rock. Within the imperial court, they crawl on all fours to gain admittance and for grace. But never his physicians. No Caesar can bet on the risk of humiliating his physician.
The important point is that the mere fact of accumulated or inherited powers puts the accumulator, the physician, in a higher order. And the other parties in issue are forced in spite of themselves to make concessions to the accumulator, here, the physician.
Let us bring some flesh to the story. When I first made Lagos, I got engaged as a flunkey of one of the most powerful families in Nigeria. The matriarch of the house, was full of arrogance and self-worth. To snob all was her daily bread. But, one day, she seconded us to render some service. It was to a certain lady that I never heard of before. What was astonishing was our matriarch’s body language. I had never seen her so reverential in all my dealings with the family. I just wondered who the mystery lady was, a goddess, some deity? Later, it was revealed the mystery lady was the wife of the physician who treated our madam’s husband.
And matters got the more interesting because the patriarch was old and thus ailing. That is to say, his health status was a matter of command-and-control importance. Even to have knowledge of the patriarch’s state of health was a source of power. This could keep you in grace over the arms race for the scramble for power, if ‘’the inevitable’’ happens.
So there was a tactical imperative on the matriarch’s part, to co-opt the physician and his household to do all that must be done. And that included keeping “our secrets secret.” That is, no other, especially other contender parties, must come to knowledge of the health status of the patriarch. The payoff of recruiting the “non-partisan” physician as your ally is that you make concessions to him and his household. And to achieve that you literally wet-nurse them and their ego, with fortune, services and even more power. An alliance is as strong as its weakest links. And the physicians have to be hedged into strength with perks, concessions and freebies.
A related matter is that when things are big, the health of those in control is a very decisive matter. And he who controls the health and the information over that health is ahead of the competition and the arms race.
And doctors are at this point the most important personae at work and at play. And part of their cash and non-cash remunerations include their being given unhindered admittance into the “imperial household and its public commons.” And physicians, being generically smart, have used the connections to fill their nest one way or the other.
Examples abound. Adnan Khashoggi was once touted the richest kid in the world. But his great wealth was sourced via a simple asset. His father was a court physician to the dictator of Saudi Arabia. Downtown here, Bello Osagie is easily one of the richest rentier capitalists around. Know his bio-data? He too is an heir to a physician of a homegrown dictator. And we have all heard of Aristotle? He was also at one time the richest student in the known world. His father was a court physician to King Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, an international thug. And Aristotle’s personal friendship with his teacher, the incomparable Plato, may have been bought. Just recall the story of General Chukwuemeka Ojukwu and his friendship with his professors at Oxford. Boy, things get commoditised, even the prettiest things.
The point here is to remark that this physician-son to power nexus never ends. It will end when we elect robots to rule. Robots are healthier than ants and do not need doctors. But so long as doctors are needed, as a matter of life and death, they have no competitor minions in the imperial household. The point has to be stressed. The patients, that is, the doctor’s clients, come to doctors, weak and sick, desperate for help. No other known professionals are in such grace or powers over their clients.
And to have acquired such power or grace, it is demanded or the physicians so demand, that they be so remunerated. It is an iron lore of nature that all powers be paid for. To give a potent example, Imperialism is nothing other than trading on power. Doctors, at critical junctions, may rightly be taken to be the futures and spot-markets’ equivalents of imperialists, modular imperialists. And like the history of Britain, Rome, etc, tells, imperialisms are paid for in cash and concessions. And no parties in the market gets better paid than doctors, sorry imperialists. Why? It’s a corned monopoly market. It is just that in imperial households and courts, doctors, in spite of themselves, turn up modular imperialists and monopolists, and are thus rewarded with power, perks and connections.
Perhaps, we shall not end without retailing this. I once traded spices through Arabia and I almost converted. And I can recall a Syrian proverb, playing on homonyms. It goes, “if you want to see the prince [the young man], you bribe the vizier. If you want to see the king [the old man], you bribe the doctor.”
The points are: 1. When men age, doctors and prescriptions run their lives for them. 2. The demographics of power suggest that only old men make offices and powers. 3. Despite all the fanciful rap about youth, statistical evidence affirms that at any one time it is old men who rule and reign. 4. The modal age range for harnessing power is 45 to 55. 5. At 45, your breasts, if you were a maiden, have fallen flat, and, if a stag, your prostrates have ballooned up. Thus seeing the doctor, the doctor in the house, is as routine as the lizard nodding its head. 6. That is to say at that age, you are sick, or at best about to be ailing. And it follows you are cornered or subject the market of the imperialisms of doctors. 7. The implication of this is that, in practical terms, the average president and potentate is sick or about to ail and thus under the dominion of doctors. And then the doctors, unelected and perhaps unelectable, begin to run the lives of these potentates and thus ours, by default. Which other professionals have bagged such powers, sustainably?
That is why it is laughable when men speculate, will Buhari run come 2019? Why ask the wrong heads? Only God and his doctors can know. When you want to see or know the King, bribe his physician. That is the iron lore. All else is in humour. Ahiazuwa.

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