THE BURDEN OF LEADERSHIP
In 2014 when I was the chairman of NBA Warri branch, I appointed a very young lawyer into a very sensitive committee that was usually reserved for very senior members. Members of that committee are expected to exhibit the highest standard of integrity, discipline, decorum and discretion. There were serious misgivings from some senior members for that appointment basically because of age. However, I cared less because I believed he was matured enough to discharge the duties expected of that office, and more importantly, I also wanted to mentor many younger ones.
Anyway, within a few months, my friend exercised a serious error of judgment and discretion in a private matter unrelated to the NBA to that almost resulted into public opprobrium for himself and the branch. But the fact is, he was expected to be above board in all matters whether NBA related or not.
Without much ado, I removed him from office even before our traducers could smirk righteously and justify their earlier misgivings over the appointment. I have no doubt then and even now that he was, and could have discharged the duties of his office perfectly and with distinction, however, he has been tainted by that singular act of indiscretion; he unwittingly became a damaged asset, a liability and must now be a fall guy, because a negative perception about him now overshadows all other positives.
What was most important to me was the need not to allow my administration be smeared with a brush of negative perception no matter my personal disposition; public perception is key to how the citizens rate, and what history will record about any administration.
My decision to remove my friend from office was as harsh as it was necessary; it was as draconian as it was wise. My decision fractured our friendship, but leadership is not about friendship, it is about having the courage to take hard decisions in the larger interest of the polity.
You see this Pantami case? All that Shehu Garba said may be true, but the appropriate action to take is for Patami to be fired for the collective good of the country. The reasons why Patami ought to be fired without much ado are inherent and obvious to even to a Capone of a university secret cult. How can the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria not see same?
Do I regret my decision in 2014 to remove my friend from office? Not at all, I will still take the same decision in the same circumstances even today.
Some decisions may not be palatable personally , but may be necessary for the good of all; it is the burden of leadership.
John Aikpokpo Martins, 1st Vice President, Nigeria Bar Association,