Malam Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, did something remarkable recently following the horrendous and mindless killings of citizens of the state by bandits. He was honourable and forthright enough to admit that his administration had failed to live up to its billing in protecting citizens of the state as statutorily expected. The media had reported how sustained attacks by bandits on certain local government areas had claimed 50 lives over a weekend, specifically in Birnin, Giwa, Gwari and Igabi local government areas where the bandits reportedly had a field day killing people. While apologising to the citizens of the state, the governor had said inter alia: “As those that have been placed in positions of leadership, the responsibility of protecting these people rests squarely on my shoulders and those of my colleagues. I also came to apologise for my failure to fully protect them.”
Governor el Rufai’s admission of failure in respect of his statutory duty to protect citizens of the state indubitably represents a departure from the norm in Nigeria where those in leadership positions are routinely defended in the face of monumental failures by the various state propaganda apparatuses. It is, therefore, quite noble of him to accept responsibility for the security lapses that caused the deaths of innocent and defenceless persons. There is certainly no doubt that his reaction to the infamy perpetrated by bandits in his Kaduna State was commendable. It is not easy for the establishment to admit failure. For full measure, it was also a courageous act to look at the people straight in the face and tell them such truth without batting an eyelid. However, apologising for the killings which have apparently overwhelmed the governor’s capacity shouldn’t be the end of the matter. Having failed to protect life and property, the governor needs to re-assess the propriety of his continued stay in office. It is expected that he would also be courageous enough to resign as the governor of Kaduna State. This is the civilised and proper thing to do.
Besides, it is imperative to drive home the point for other pretenders in the various public offices that once they fail to live up to their billing as competent and compassionate officeholders, they are required to leave office for more competent people. Ideally, the tenure and mandate of the public officeholders in the country are expected to be only as valid as their fidelity to the oath of office they took. Once there is a breach, their tenure should be questioned by the electorate. Malam el-Rufai should, therefore, go the whole hog in demonstrating that he is an embodiment of propriety in public office. It is only by stepping down from office after the apology that he can get other similarly circumstanced officeholders to follow suit. Remaining in office and continuing to enjoy the perks of office after such a public apology is the height of hypocrisy.
We call on the political class in the country to embrace the global best practices and the universal democratic ethos. They must be willing to relinquish power in the face of failure to perform the responsibilities attached to their offices. The legislative arm of government should also be willing to impeach proven failures in the executive arm of government. The country cannot continue to reinforce failure at any level. In any case, leaders who do the needful by stepping down from office in full recognition of the decency and courage that should attend public office will have their names cast in gold in the annals of the country.