By Donu Kogbara
When you grow up in one place, spend a significant chunk of your adulthood working in another place and regularly shuttle between the 2 places, you are likely to regard yourself as a hybrid and to feel at home in both places and yet not entirely native to either place.
Constant comparisons are inevitable when you have each foot firmly planted on a different continent, and no day goes by when I do not take note of the many dissimilarities between Nigeria and Britain.
I think it is safe and fair to say that even though the latter colonized the former for several decades – and imposed its education system, religion, etc – British culture only rubbed off on the average Nigerian in a superficial way; and the two societies have wound up being like chalk and cheese on various fundamental levels.
But the winds of change are blowing through the United Kingdom, and I’m extremely unhappy to announce that Brits have decided to copy some of the bad habits for which the Naija nation is famed!
Boris Johnson, a journalist and former Foreign Secretary and ex-Mayor of London, looks set to be installed in the near future as head of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Government.
This imminent change in leadership has been necessitated by the fact that Theresa May, the current Prime Minister, has not been able to skillfully manage the complicated mess that surrounds Brexit – Britain’s attempts to extricate itself from the European Union.
Both May and Johnson belong to the Conservative Party, and most of their colleagues and constituents – grassroots party stalwarts as well as elected members of Parliament – have decided that May must go and be replaced by someone they hope will get better results.
I personally respect Theresa May because she is an Anglican vicar’s daughter and it shows. I have a huge soft spot for people who ooze integrity. And Mrs May comes across – to me at least – as someone who would find it very hard to lie or do anything deeply murky.
The poor woman has copped a lot of abuse in the past year or two for failing to deliver Brexit; but I doubt that anyone in her shoes, her harshest critics included, could have done any better.
But I digress.
My main focus today is not Mrs May’s character, Mrs May’s professional track record or the pros and cons of one Brexit strategy versus another Brexit strategy.
My main focus today is my disappointment about the fact that Johnson is the front runner to replace May, having won more votes from Conservative Party selectors than all of his rivals put together.
Nigeria has always been a lust-driven destination in which Anything Goes and men roam around overtly betraying their spouses. But most Nigerian men are better than Johnson if you ask me!
Time was when most stakeholders in ANY serious British organisation – never mind the CONSERVATIVE Party that used to insist that senior public servants be discreet and at least give the general public the impression that sexual morality was important – would have deemed a man like Johnson completely unsuitable to get the top job because his private life is too dodgy
Johnson is a charismatic fellow with a razor-sharp brain, but he is not the only brilliant gladiator in the British political arena, and he is too much of a libertine to be a good role model for youngsters. I’m also pretty sure that his indiscipline will spill over into his work.
Johnson, a chronic long-term philanderer, has been married twice. Johnson has been a serial adulterer. Johnson has had at least one child out of wedlock. Johnson refuses to answer questions from those who want to know how many out-of-wedlock children he has.
Johnson has abandoned his family and is currently living with the mistress who caused his marital split – a girl who, by the way, happens to be young enough to be his child. And it’s not like the girl is a restrained ideal First Lady type. Last weekend, she and Johnson fought so loudly that their neighbours called the police.
I have plenty of male friends and relatives who are womanisers, but few are as blatant as Johnson, and there is still a school of thought – to which I unrepentantly belong despite this being the super-liberal 21st century! – that disapproves of such behaviour.
A man who openly violates his wedding vows and cheats on his wife and abandons his offspring is not necessarily a demon.
But who needs a leader – especially in a frightening era of crisis when citizens desperately need stability – whose personal life is so colourful and chaotic and dramatic and ethically unimpressive?
Also read: BREXIT Brings Out The Worst In The British
One of the few things I like about President Buhari nowadays is his apparent abstemiousness.
I strongly suspect that his administration is as corrupt as previous administrations. But he himself does not come across as a thief or glutton who is determined to enjoy every worldly pleasure…or as an unfaithful husband who must dally with every available beauteous babe. He seems, in a nutshell, much more self-controlled than most Naija VIPs.
And I yearn for the good old days when the British frowned on Johnson types and insisted on self-control from their own Ogas At The Top.