What Nigerian Politicians Can Learn from UK PM’s Resignation

October 21, 2022

With Nigeria in full electioneering mode unlooking a devastating flooding crisis, another United Kingdom Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has resigned due to incompetence.  Truss is now the shortest serving PM in British history — just 45 days —  and the fourth PM to resign since 2016

Why did Truss resign?

In her resignation speech, Truss said she failed to deliver on her Conservative Party’s mandate to cut taxes and boost economic growth. Despite being in office for less than two months, her own party members publicly spoke of plans to replace her

The underlying reason for Truss stepping down comes from implementing policies that backfired badly — her budget to cut taxes failed and upset financial markets. Even the UK’s almighty pound sterling dropped in value.

So what lessons can Nigerian politicians learn from this saga?

Politics isn’t do-or-die

In the West, elected officials and political appointees know that the positions they hold are temporary and performance-based. People win or lose elections — life continues. But in Nigeria, politicians invest heavily and employ whatever means necessary to win. And when they don’t win, they faint, literally.

Resignations should be more commonplace in Nigeria

Resignation isn’t in the dictionary of Nigerian politicians. Even the rare ones that resign do it usually when the law is holding a gun to their heads. One notable resignation happened in 2018 when the Oluwole-made NYSC certificate of then-finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, was exposed. She claimed that until the scandal broke, she “didn’t know” that her certificate wasn’t genuine. 

National interest over party interest

Truss’ resignation followed protests from all quarters — including her own party — that she wasn’t fit to lead.  In Nigeria, party loyalty reigns supreme and members of the party in power rarely call out their underperforming leaders. This kind of blind allegiance undermines democracy in the long run.

For example, when Nigerians called for the resignation of Isa Pantami from his ministerial position following his support of terrorist groups, members of his party in his home state of Gombe issued a solidarity statement. He’s still a minister years after that controversy that would have been the end of a politician in saner climes.

Resignation isn’t the end of the world

As a former PM who has only spent 45 days in office, Liz Truss is entitled to a £115,000 annual salary for life. As you can imagine, this lifts her from being a mechanic to being a baller for life. 

The lesson here is that resigning from office doesn’t signal the end. One could use the opportunity to pursue one’s passions, earn money from public speaking, write a book, or even run again for the same office, like Truss’s predecessor, Boris Johnson, plans to do

In Nigeria, politicians tend to make politics their bread and butter, which makes them desperate to die there. Maybe they could be more open to the idea of losing and resigning if they have thriving enterprises outside of office that aren’t dependent on political patronage. 

Ultimately, resignations are a feature of a thriving democracy and a reminder that for all the power politicians hold, they still remain public servants.

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