DAVID Cameron, the outgoing British Prime Minister, has made mistakes (who hasn’t?). But at critical junctures – in the past few days especially – he has behaved impeccably and proved that he is the product of a good upbringing and a gentleman.
When most of his compatriots ignored his advice and voted to leave the European Union, EU, on June 23, Cameron announced – without any rancour – that he would step down as soon as his Conservative Party colleagues had selected a new leader.
His decision came as a shock because nobody was holding a gun to his head. Some members of his Party had vigorously opposed his pro-EU stance. But even when these “enemies within” emerged triumphant from the Referendum drama, they wanted Cameron to stick around for a while and continue to captain their ship. In other words, he wasn’t being pushed but chose to jump anyway.
But he didn’t walk away because he is a bad loser. He walked away because the Referendum result was a depressing disaster from his point of view. And if he’d stayed on, he’d have had to negotiate Britain’s exit from the EU with a heavy heart; and he didn’t want to take responsibility for a process he didn’t believe in.
In other words, he resigned as a matter of principle.
He had since moved out of l0 Downing Street – the Prime Minister’s official residence. And I just LOVE him for turning his back on a prestigious job and the glittering perks that go with it, even though he could easily have clung to power.
I really like the fact that he is so confident and so comfortable in his own skin that he doesn’t need a big position to feel whole. And mere words cannot express how much I admire him for humbly, voluntarily and fearlessly extricating himself from the cosy cocoon of high office to explore new pastures in an uncertain world.
His legacy has been dented by the Referendum defeat. But he is still a Class Act – a dignified and gracious professional…and a compassionate, modern Conservative who possesses such strong democratic instincts that he took the enormous political risk of organising a Referendum he knew he might lose and could have avoided.
I pray that history will be kind to David Cameron and remember him as a decent public servant. I also hope that he will wind up with an alternative role that will enable him to use his considerable talents at a super-senior international level; and I wish him, his charming wife, Samantha, and their children long and happy lives.
Women of substance
I WISHFULLYistfully regret David Cameron’s departure. But I’m glad that his successor is Theresa May, a formidable female who has been the British Home Secretary (roughly equivalent to the Nigerian Minister of the Interior) for the past six years.
Mrs May is a down-to-earth Anglican vicar’s daughter whose solid moral values do not prevent her from sharing Cameron’s enlightened attitude towards minorities.
She’s a very-clever-indeed Oxford University graduate and is famed for diligence, discipline, stoicism and a genuine concern for have-nots.
She suffers from Type One diabetes but has not allowed this debilitating health condition to stand in her way. She has described uncaring Conservatives as “nasty”.
Mrs May, who is married to a finance expert, will be Britain’s second lady premier; and she will always be compared to her pioneering predecessor, the late Margaret Thatcher. May, however, is less abrasive, less divisive and less controversial.
This is a golden era for political women of substance in the United Kingdom. While Theresa May is stepping into Cameron’s shoes, Arlene Foster is the First Minister of Northern Ireland and Nicola Sturgeon is the First Minister of Scotland. And all of the above have earned their lofty positions through pure merit and sheer grit.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is toughing it out with Donald Trump on the American presidential campaign trail; and despite the substantial support that Trump enjoys, I am increasingly convinced that Hillary will kick him into touch and win the crown. And let’s not forget Angela Merkel of Germany – my favourite!
When I was growing up, it was a big deal for a woman to be a manager in a small company. When Thatcher arrived on the political stage, it seemed like a miracle.
Now, it’s commonplace for women to run blue-chip corporations and premier league governments; and I feel privileged to have witnessed this quiet revolution.
EX-President Goodluck Jonathan also displayed a laudable lack of interest in clinging to power last year…and totally ignored those members of his Peoples Democratic Party who urged him to refuse to accept Buhari’s election victory.
One year has passed since Jonathan handed over to Buhari peacefully and without any obvious signs of bitterness about an electoral outcome that didn’t favour him.
The circumstances are different. A referendum is a single-issue poll; and a leader who doesn’t win an argument about one issue won’t necessarily be under pressure to step down.
Entire track record
An election, on the other hand, is a much more serious matter because it revolves around multiple issues and a leader’s entire track record. To cut a long story short: While Cameron could have stayed without generating an uproar, riots would definitely have ensued if Jonathan had tried to hang on.
But Jonathan could still have dug his heels in. And given that African heads of state often get away with shameless abuses of power, he might have successfully brazened it out and totally messed Buhari up, with help from army loyalists, etc.
And I for one will always be grateful to Jonathan for doing the right thing. His civilized surrender saved Nigeria from a bloodbath. And, given how grim things have been since he left, I understand people who are saying that they miss him.
By Donu Kogbara