By Benjamin King
According to Dictionary.com, metachrosis is the ability of some animals, such as chameleons, to change their colour. 
The aspect of metachrosis is evident in the leadership of many nations over the world today. It is ‘hyperlinked’ with abuse of authority. Thus political metachrosis can be defined as the disastrous and unprecedented change in attitude and actions of a political leader, which leads to disappointment among their voters and resentment towards the leader.
What is happening to leadership? Why do many leaders in critical positions ‘change colour’ after getting to the offices they so humbly sought citizens to entrust them with? News all over the world is amassed with shocking scenarios of misuse of authority across the world. Ironically, the key leaders, meant to be the human rights custodians, turn out to be the oppressors. Those individuals, whom civil society hands the ‘bridle’ to move the nation out of turmoil assume unbridled power to act as they please with anybody within their dominion.
The principle of conservation of energy states that energy is neither created nor destroyed, but transformed from one form to another. This is analogous to the wastage of resources—time, money, energy and intellect, done by these egocentric leaders towards offsetting the slightest opposition, while making no efforts to attend to the needs of the citizens, or fulfilling voters’ expectations in the least. Resources are allocated towards selfish non-developmental ends like suppression of protests, neglecting important sectors of the country like education.
He came to us. We deemed him capable. We told him our challenges. He promised to lead us to the promised land. We gave him our votes. Then he made our land a living hell.
The above pattern has been experienced in many countries whereby presidents turn into dictators after a few years in office, forgetting the promises and commitments they made to their voters.
Muhammadu Buhari has been Nigeria’s president since 2015. Under his governance, Nigerians have suffered harassment by brutal police officers which led to a protest in Nigeria in 2020 where thousands of Nigerians were shot by police and many lost their lives. Furthermore, at the start of June 2021 he used threatening language to ‘warn’ protesters in the south eastern part of the country, through a Twitter post, about the potential violence they could suffer at his command as a consequence of their actions. The deletion of his intimidating post by Twitter attracted a ‘Twitter ban’ in Nigeria. 
Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko has served as the only president of Belarus since the establishment of the office on 20 July 1994. Lukashenko’s rule is characterised by violent suppression of all opposition and protests against his rule and self-retention of Lukashenko in the presidential office over the years, by all means. 
The United States of America welcomed Donald Trump into Presidential office on 20th January, 2017. The excitement over the business guru’s potential to lead America forward culminated into utter disappointment among many Americans due to the shortcomings of Trump’s leadership, his conspiracy theories, reluctance to act on important issues and attempt to remain in power, undermining the nation’s democracy.
The collapse of democracy and rise of dictatorship.
The triumphant entry
Alec Medine notes that “In some situations, such as in the case a major economic collapse or a significant military defeat, voters may seek extreme options by choosing political parties which promise to single-handedly save the country from its economic or political woes, usually through authoritarian means. The often unforeseen cost of electing these parties, however, is that they tend to destroy democratic principles once they enter power.”
“Thirty six years ago, Museveni took over power from Milton Obote through battle. We saw his entry into office as a road to liberty. Citizens all over the country stood along the roads to welcome a new era of hope and change. Less than a decade afterwards, Uganda’s economy fails, corruption rises and now, here we are, the nation is experiencing injustice backed by government itself. Individuals from the opposition are still being detained and apparently, Uganda has no opposition. Any smouldering flame of opposition against the government is extinguished instantly,” remarked a Ugandan citizen when interviewed about President Museveni’s regime.
Decision by elites
The country’s influential population may provide allegiance to a particular leader to become president—an individual they trust to maintain a favourable atmosphere for their operations in the country for example businesses. Usually, this democratically-elected government goes a step ahead to abolish democracy (especially for the presidential seat) under the ‘umbrella’ of preventing the potential chaos by opposing parties.
Alec Medine noted that “The Nazi Party, democratically elected in Germany with 33% of the vote in the 1932 parliamentary elections, used the Reichstag Emergency in 1933 to enact authoritarian measures in the name of maintaining public order, including banning all oppositional political parties and ending competitive elections.”
Voter indifference and withdrawal
Over years, as a result of continued manipulation of election results, voters in the country utterly lose confidence in the whole system and withdraw from participating in voting. This gives free opportunity to non-democratic governments to perpetuate their reign and as a result turn into dictators. 
Sometimes, democracy may be ruined through direct military coup or revolution. Power is then taken over by a regime led by a dictator, making the country a military dictatorship.
In several countries, notably in China, dictatorships are established following revolutions and civil wars without going through a democratic stage. China claims to be a “socialist democracy”. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) determines which political parties can run. Such organisation is a favourable ground for dictatorship as major decisions and directions are given by a few individuals. There is limited democracy under such a system full of manipulated rule since the stay of a president in power does not rely on voters’ opinion but predominantly on the decision of the controlling party. 
Why authority is misused
The reasons for abuse of leadership are diverse. Some of them are:
Many presidents assume an untouchable stance when they take over power. This is partly because the office of the president is the highest in many countries and each country is more or less an independent entity. As such, presidents in many countries do as they please due to lack of significant answerability.
In recent decades, in many nations, leadership has evolved to lose its status as a means to progress. Instead, it is a pathway taken by egocentric leaders to fulfil their selfish interests. Fundamentally, presidents must work to steer the nation forward. Instead, many use office to achieve their self interests, ignoring the citizens.
Closely associated with egocentric misuse of authority by presidents is corruption. Corrupt presidents over the years have used national funds for fulfilling selfish interests. A lot of money has been misappropriated and lost under various disguises. Corruption is fuelled by a blend of egocentrism and sovereignty assumption. Selfish presidents unlawfully take from national treasury and donations to fulfil their personal interests and projects, amass wealth abroad and live luxurious lives characterised by wasting money, while the citizens they lead suffer to get just what to eat for the day. 
At the height of the COVID pandemic, many nations received donations both from other countries and within, a dramatic example being Uganda. With the high intensity of corruption prevailing in the country, the huge sums of money found its way into “hungry and bottomless pockets.” The large percentage of citizens who live in dire poverty lacked food although money was allocated by government towards distribution of food. The geographical coverage of the food distribution project was relatively small, in addition to supply of poor quality corn flour and spoilt beans. A large percentage of donations were amassed on bank accounts of corrupt leaders.
The virtues of accepting criticism and handling opposition professionally are lacking in many presidents. They consider opposition and criticism to be obstacles in their paths, not frameworks for improvement. Thus, at the slightest evocation, these presidents retaliate with cowardly aggression.
Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus for more than a quarter of a century, dealt with protests against his fraudulent landslide victory in the 2020 elections by applying military brutality against the protesters. In addition, in Belarus, opposition activists have been incarcerated and some fled to exile. On Sunday 23rd May 2021, Lukashenko ordered the hijacking of a commercial plane flying over Belarusian airspace so as to capture Roman Protasevich, an anti-Lukashenko journalist who operated the Nexta telegram channel  that had been a major outlet for information against Lukashenko’s governance amidst media suppression in Belarus. 
Effects of presidential abuse of authority
Abuse of leadership through setting bad policies, poor handling of the nation’s issues or any other undertaking by a supreme leader that adversely affects the welfare of citizens attracts upheaval from the citizens. The majority of protests across the globe have been sparked off due to bad leadership.
A bad leader leads the nation backwards. Due to the setting of poor policies and inefficacy in leadership, the nation regresses in development. Additionally, resources—time, energy and money are wasted in protests and combatting them and generally, the nation’s atmosphere does not foster progress. Unprofessional acts by the president attract sanctions from other countries. Ironically, the country’s citizens are more affected in the process than the culprits themselves.
National fear and suppression of expression
In countries having egocentric leaders, the rights of citizens are utterly abused by government itself. Freedom of speech and expression is denied through arrest of anti-government activists and protesters. Citizens are generally unhappy in their own country and worse than that, they apparently have no remedy to the predicament.
In Uganda, key supporters of the opposition side have been arrested and detained in prison since the conclusion of elections in January 2021. The unprecedented abduction of anyone who is perceived as threatening the existence of Museveni’s government has made many Ugandans prefer to stay put than to speak out or act against any unfairness carried out by the government. The country’s media, too, is highly suppressed and manipulated. Certain crucial information against the government is never aired for fear of abduction of journalists and ultimate closure of the media outlet.
Sanctions are a good ‘therapeutic’ if aimed at the offending leader, not the country in general. If aimed at the country, the effect spreads out to innocent citizens.
The critical organs of the nation for example the military and electoral commission should be autonomous entities free from any manipulation by the incumbent leader. This makes the supreme leaders answerable, a situation which moderates their authority, thus avoiding misuse.
Tool and weapon
Leadership is such a critical aspect. It is a determinant of progress and a stumbling block at the same time. It is a tool, and a weapon at the same time, capable of being transfigured depending on the possessor—a tool for development and a weapon for destruction. A nation’s progress will hinge on its leadership. Consequently, natives must vote with discernment, and leaders must lead with wisdom and service.
 Nigeria’s Twitter Ban Is Another Step Back to Dictatorship
 “Belarus-Government “The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency.
 Alec Medine; How Do Democracies Turn Into Dictatorships
 “Is China a democracy? A long (and better) answer”
 Jeremy Sandbrook; The 10 Most Corrupt World Leaders Of Recent History.
 Channel 4 News; How plane ‘hijack’ is latest in Belarus brutal war against media freedom.