An actor quits the stage when the ovation is loudest, says an English adage. This maxim was penultimate week displayed by South Africa’s ex-president, Jacob Zuma when, after much pressure from the government, the people and even his own party, the African National Congress (ANC) of which he is a co-founder for alleged corruption and sundry official breaches, resigned honourably and bowed out of office.
To us, this is a heroic feat which depicts the sterner stuff he is made of. For quite some time, the pressure on him to step out was becoming overwhelming for him to bear hence he finally capitulated. For many years, Zuma had been under the tutelage of the late legendary Nelson Mandela learning the process of governance and urbane behaviour which he finally put to good use two weeks ago.
His action had been widely eulogized by world powers. There are many lessons to learn from Zuma’s glorious exit; when the history of South Africa is to be re-written his name will be top of list of prominent citizens just like the late Nelson Mandela. He preempted possible civil disorder which his continuous stay in office could have engendered and could have caused nationwide social strife.
However back home, the reverse is the case. In recent years, there had never been a single government official who had honourably resigned from office after being confronted with allegation of fraud and other demeanours. What we have are criminally intransigent treasury looters who are ready to take the government to court equally engaging some dubious Senior Advocates of Nigeria to argue their cases.
At times, their behaviours could have the backing of the sitting government and the cases could drag on for as long as God knows. At the end of the day, they are left off the hook after senseless and long adjournments and meaningless rigmarole. The judges must have cornered some millions into their pockets.
Jacob Zuma, an epitome of civility, did not do all that, he quietly left office as a man who the Yoruba would refer to as Omoluabi, that is, a man of good and impeccable character. He never burdened his country’s government with litigations whereby the government could start wasting money on court cases.
We salute his courage and tenacity of purpose. He had traversed a tempestuous journey and had come out unscathed. Now that Jacob Zuma is no more in office, his successor Cyril Ramaphosa should continue to uphold the ideals of the country’s ruling party, ANC at all times. He should start showcasing South Africa as inter primus pares of all African countries, socially, politically and economically.
Our own big men government officials should take a cue from Jacob Zuma whenever they are in Zuma’s position and disposition. They should do the needful when the referee blows the final whistle on them by bowing out gracefully when the ovation is loudest. A case in point is that of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federal (SGF) Babachir Lawal who stuck to the office even when he was confronted with proven allegation of corruption and embezzlement, until he was forcibly removed from office by Osinbajo committee that looked into his case.
Zuma had been able to stand fast when it mattered most to him and he was worth it. He left the stage when the ovation was loudest for him. That is how it should always be.