By Prof. MK Othman
Confidently and majestically, she strolled to the podium with calmness and unperturbed, she made one minute and fifteen seconds speech, which contained a few key messages. These are the Economic downturn affecting thousands of households in Britain, her inability to achieve her campaign promises, “I recognize though I cannot deliver the mandate”, due consultation, and then announcing her resignation as the British Prime Minister.
Planning for the election of her successor. Hundred of millions of viewers watched the video clip with utter shock and disbelief. Few viewers watched her for the first time because she spent only 45 days in the holy office as Prime Minister. Truss is one of the shortest-serving premiers in British political history after just six weeks in office. She came in with rekindled hope and mammoth aspirations of the citizenry.
Truss, with her longtime political ally and bosom friend, Kwasi Kwarteng, as her chancellor entered office with a promise to cut taxes and kickstart the country’s economic growth through a form of “trickle-down economics.” In line with their political pledges, Kwarteng announced major tax cuts to parliament, alongside new spending plans focused on protecting households from high energy prices, the country’s currency plummeted in value, while the costs of government borrowing shot up.
Consequently, a series of significant missteps meant that much of the political vision she outlined during her leadership campaign was ditched after serious adverse reactions from financial markets. An intentionally good plan for the economy and reward for “good friendship” tragically ended Truss’s tenure abruptly. The new prime minister is already installed and trying to mend the pieces. Sequential events are best left to historians. What is the lesson for Nigeria and other African countries?
First, as a Nigerian, you may be tempted to say what is wrong with these white people. Well, nothing is wrong with them, that is the beauty of people-centered, oriented, and targeted democracy. Government of the people, for the people, and by the people. If you cannot deliver, resign, if you cannot resign, you are removed. People should not allow you to occupy an elective or appointed public office with poor performance. If you are unresponsive and insensitive to the yearning and aspirations of people, resign or be booted out unceremoniously.
I doff my cap to the British people for their respect and practice of peopled-centered democracy. As a bilingual who passed through both British and French educational systems, I have seen, heard, observed, and experienced a lot from both dissimilar entities but I am always at home with British people and their system. Relatively, the British were more lenient in dealing with their subjects. Slavery and its twin sister, Colonialism was human history, if not tragedy, which makes us, as black Africans continue blaming the Europeans for our underdevelopment but how long do we have to continue trading such blames?
Have we not come of age? Well, that is a subject for another time. As bad as colonial masters were, the British colonists were more refined and did their “things” with a human face relatively, when they “awarded” independence to their colonies. It was almost a free independence without attaching a string and unfavorable conditions like the French colonists did. The Francophones are still making all sorts of payments to their colonial mother, France, four to six decades after “gaining” their independence.
Today, Anglophones are much freer and gaining more opportunities to dwell in the affairs of their hitherto colonial mother, the British. This type of opportunity is what made Kwame to be a political tsunami in British politics. A British Conservative Party Politician, born in 1975 in Britain to Ghanaian immigrants who went to Britain on Study Fellowship in the 1960s. Thanks to the people-centered politics of the British, which allowed Kwame to occupy Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, perhaps, the highest rank ever attained in the British government by a Blackman. A week after Truss’s resignation, another historic event unfolded, another son of immigrants, Rishi Sunak born in 1980 became British Prime Minister. Sunak’s parents came to the UK from East Africa and are both of Indian origin. Today, Sunak is the first British Asian Prime Minister.
This means the whites who divided us, as Africans five centuries ago for plundering our resources in the name of colonialism are today not only united among themselves but with our selective kith and kin. They cannot afford to have a louse as a leader, merit is the watchword in their choice of leadership. As far as the British people are concerned, political leadership should be occupied by people with the wherewithal, intellectual capacity, patriotism, and sense of responsibility to chart the country to a glorious path.
They know that a country’s survival against insecurity, economic meltdown, and disunity among the citizenry is of paramount importance. A leader who can safeguard and protect the nation’s survival should be supported. The leader’s ethnic and religious inclination, race, and origin are immaterial. A true national leader cannot be beclouded by these attributes. This is a lesson for all Nigerians as we move toward our election day in February 2023.
Unless and until we imbibe these qualities, Nigeria will continue to showcase third elevens as the national leaders, and we shall continue to sink into the abyss of poverty, squalor, and disunity with heavy consequences. I am looking forward to when we are going to have Emeka as the governor of Kano state, Muntari as the governor of Ebonyi state, and Owolade as the governor of Sokoto State. Their elections should be done purely on merits irrespective of their religious, tribal, and regional inclination.
However, the reality of today’s Nigeria is highly retrogressive, Professor Sani may be globally selected as the best academic in the world but cannot be the vice-chancellor of the university of Nigeria, Nsukka, because of his tribal and religious beliefs. Meanwhile, I challenge all our elected leaders from the councillorship to the presidency to do a self-assessment and if they are found failing on their electoral promises, they should emulate what Truss did two weeks ago otherwise, our national and states assemblies should do the needful (impeachment) even if it is one hour to the completion of their tenures.