After about 44 odd days at the 10 Downing Street in London the British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, had just thrown in the towel resigning from a tough demanding job she seemed unprepared for and incapable of executing. The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy and a monarchy. Just days before the demise of Queen Elizabeth 11 who ruled the UK for seventy unbroken years Truss had replaced Boris Johnson who was forced to resign following scandals — partying, lying et al.
Ms Truss defeated Rishi Sunak to become the third female Prime Minister in British political history. Others before her were the late Margareth Thatcher, the Iron Lady, and Theresa May. And Sunak, the former Finance Minister, is poised to replace her.
Truss was the most inexperienced British PM in history. By quitting she became the shortest-reigning PM in British history. The previous record was set at 119 days by George Canning who died in office in 1827.
Truss committed a series of administrative blunders as she navigated blindly the ‘mined’ political terrain in England.
The policy somersaults and the consequent abrupt sacking of the Finance Minister, Kwasi Kwarteng, exposed her inability to manage power professionally. Her political naivety was brought to the fore. Before long cabinet Ministers began resigning like what happened during the Boris Johnson era.
But we must be fair in our assessment of her short stay at 10 Downing Street. Despite her manifest incompetence she came into the job at a very difficult time in global politico-economic meltdown. With the COVID-19 pandemic repercussions still reverberating around the world coupled with the energy crisis occasioned by the Russian criminal invasion of Ukraine Ms Truss met 10 Downing Street in a state of monumental challenges.
The challenges of the time were beyond her capacity to handle. It would have taken some measure of political wizardry to meet those existential challenges. And lo, she was bereft of fresh ideas on how to deal with them.
Between the out-going PM and the management of power, therefore, there was no serious impact either in the UK or outside. Obviously, she was not ready for what the job threw at her in terms of expectations and performance. Perhaps she underestimated what it entails.
But her resignation marked a brutal frankness and recognition of the urgency of now. In politics when things go wrong responsibility must be apportioned and blame taken gracefully. And that was what Ms Truss did! If she insisted on remaining while the waters are muddied further, as African politicians would, disgrace would have been her portion. She read the mood correctly and left at the right time!
Her resignation has thrown governance in Great Britain into another rowdy round of a selection process for another Prime Minister. The Conservatives are having a rough time as general elections loom. The Labour Party may exploit the leadership confusion of the Tories to bounce back to power.
In Africa in general and Nigeria in particular the ‘word’ resignation is non-existent in the political vocabulary. Unless a politician is humbled by scandal or corruption and consequently pressured to step aside for ‘investigations’ to occur (something that produces no result anyway) then quitting becomes a tug of war.
Take President Muhammadu Buhari for example. Unlike the resigned PM Truss (who is healthy and educated enough) our underwhelming President has had his seven-year presidency tainted irredeemably by generalised insecurity, bouts of ailment and corruption allegations. Yet, resignation is never an option!
Even if President Buhari manifests a noble intention to retire earlier than required to his cows in Daura on account of ill-health or monumental challenges of statecraft facing his rudderless administration the infamous Aso Rock cabal would find a way to persuade him not to go.
That is how awfully things work over there in our fatherland. Politics of irresponsibility and mediocrity! No honour among thieves and no accountability whatsoever for the real power ‘owners’, Nigerians.
If the outgone PM were to be a Nigerian politician then resignation constituted a ‘crime’ punishable by political oblivion. Resignation could have come by the intervention of the grim reaper or coup d’etat. If she were a Nigerian her husband would have ‘divorced’ her for choosing the path of honour! She would have been ‘ostracized’ in her community for abandoning a ‘goldmine’, the treasury, for just a few weeks instead of electing to continue the path to national decline.
If she were a Nigerian she would have elected to continue muddying more waters and groping in the dark while the nation suffers the consequences.
If President Buhari knew what honour and integrity meant he would have since resigned for his inability to secure Nigerians and take care of their welfare. If he knows what honour and integrity mean the retired General would have since gone, pleading his lack of capacity to fix problems and deliver on his campaign promises.
If he is patriotic enough he would have saved us the embarrassment of his constant medical tourism abroad!
There are valuable lessons to be learnt from Ms Truss’ honest admission of failure to live up to expectation. There are lessons of political decency and honour; those of accountability and patriotism. A time for circumspection cometh!
We salute her courage and sound sense of judgement. May her kind, in terms of political pragmatism and sagacity at a moment of adversity, happen to our abused country, Nigeria!
The new Nigeria we are all envisaging come next year post-Buharism must incorporate a certain mechanism that ‘encourages’ leaders to submit their resignation letters upon occurrence of graft or scandal under their watch.
No great nation is ever built upon the shamelessness and lack of integrity and accountability of elected leaders. The system must, therefore, be made to be accountable, serving us, the people, and not otherwise.