If there is anything that Nigeria politicians are consistently good at, it is taking credits. Whenever things go right, they are quick to flaunt how their policies and interventions are doing wonders and delivering necessary gains.
Let any of their policies flop and bring discomfort, loss, embarrassment or shame to the people or country, they have excuses and find who to shift the blame on. With little or no concern for what people feel, they play up theories on how their predecessors prepared the ground for whatever goes wrong.
Soon, it becomes a habit and created an impression, whether in the mind of politicians and observers, that the business of politicians is solely power. Every day, we are treated to scenarios of people who are occupying leadership positions show poor attitudes to responsibility.
That was why it took many Nigerians by surprise when the Oyo state governor, Seyi Makinde, took responsibility for a recent inferno that gutted a popular market in the state. So unusual and that got people talking on what should be a normal practice. But considering the posture of people in leadership to responsibility, I think what Makinde did with the inferno disaster, would definitely, be seen as extraordinary.
Shortly after visiting the scene of the inferno, Makinde took to his Facebook page to explain what his government has done to identify with traders who suffered loss from the fire outbreak and importantly, take responsibility for the failure of the fire service, whose capacity was not enough to quench the fire. In the post, he said “We visited Oja Akesan, Oyo Town to assess the damage caused by the fire outbreak last Sunday, this afternoon (Wednesday).
The governor who embarked on the visit with members of his cabinet added that “I commiserated with traders who lost goods in the fire and told them that I am taking full responsibility for the failure of the fire service to contain the fire and that our administration will make things right. He went on to assure “them (traders) that our administration will rebuild a new modern market as soon as possible, and that the Caretaker Chairman of Oyo East LGA has a list of all traders in the market. He will give it to us to enable us to support the traders, who lost goods in the fire.”
To start with, what happened at the Akesan market was unfortunate and should not have happened if the fire service was efficient and equipped with the needed facility to do their job. But to see that Makinde come out open to take responsibility and promise to make things right is a commendable shift from the old habit of nothing is ever wrong.
For so long, Nigerian leaders maintained a posture that absolved them from anything that goes wrong. Anytime things go wrong, you hardly find anyone who takes responsibility, and most time, this has a serious impact on those who suffered from the failure of leadership getting any hope of remedy. That’s something that has hurt Nigeria and Nigerians for so long.
Unfortunately, some politicians still embrace this wrong attitude and believe that they have a duty to themselves and few elites alone, with little or no responsibility to citizens who entrusted them with power. Probably, that was the simple answer for the sluggish pace of development and sheer indiscipline that is constantly making a serious mess of governance in the country. Because the strength of leadership is taking responsibility for outcomes under you.
There can be no question, ever, that those who have the mandate of people and take decisions on their behalf have a responsibility, and they should at all times keep up to it, most especially when things go awry. That must be what a celebrated American author, Napoleon Hill, had in mind when he said: “The successful leader must be willing to assume the responsibility for the mistakes and the shortcomings of his followers.”
To put what Makinde did with the fire outbreak at the Akesan market in the right perspective, he simply showed that leadership is a responsibility, and as a leader in the state, failure of the fire service to contain the inferno was also his failure. That’s superb and clearly projected a leader who is really concerned about the people and prepared to offer a solution, and not blame.
If you go through his post on his Facebook page with an objective mind, you’ll realize that he understood well enough that the fire service was incapacitated, not because they choose to but going by the limited equipment at their disposal. And, promising that “our administration will make things right”, go along way to assure the traders who have suffered a loss that the government would not abandon them. What a brilliant approach!
The tragedy, like the Akesan market, is not unique to Oyo state. But what seemed different is that Makinde is not blaming anyone, rather, concentrated more on the remedy. That’s the ideal thing because if we are to make any significant progress on the monumental societal problems, those who lead must learn to be sincere with themselves and the people.
Finally, think about the time your governor or any political office holder accepted they did wrong and make a pledge to make things right. You, probably, would realize how many times they’ve offered excuses and show no remorse for the pains they have caused you with their actions or inactions. So, leadership is about taking responsibility and it’s good that Makinde is showing us that.
Oke Umurhohwois a Political Analyst and Strategist. He tweets via @OkeStalyf and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org