Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala gestures while addressing the media on July 26, 2018. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITUTourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala gestures while addressing the media on July 26, 2018. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU
By NJOKI CHEGE

Najib Balala urgently needs to man up.

For a public figure who has been in the limelight so long, I expected better from him. I excepted decorum, gallantry and leadership. What we got instead was a public meltdown that should never be witnessed from a man above the age of 20.

When Balala said those damning, career-limiting words “I will not resign and those calling for my resignation can go to hell!” I cringed in horror, and thought my TV was on steroids. Unfazed by the PR hailstorm coming his way, Balala dug his hole deeper and dragged his boss into the mess.

“Nobody has appointed me. It is only President Uhuru Kenyatta who has appointed me. So, they can go to hell. I can tell them that… Uhuru Kenyatta is the only one who has appointed me here and he knows I have the capacity to run the wildlife docket. Nobody is going to intimidate me.”

Balala thought he was being tough, instead, he ended up looking as ridiculous as his kitenge bow-ties.

Everyone in this country knows 10 black rhinos died of preventable deaths and nobody cares about the blame-game going on right now between the ministry and the recently dissolved KWS board.

This, my friends, is not a national scandal where “slay queens” supply air for millions of Kenya shillings; this is an international crisis and it makes us look pathetic to the world.

“GO TO HELL”

Balala likes to think of himself as a special public figure. He is a typical Kenyan “big man” who thinks talking tough makes him look unshakeable and stoic.

What he really is, though, is an incompetent Cabinet minister with poor public relations skills and a foul mouth. Mr Balala needs to put a leash on his tongue and learn how to hold his peace no matter how angry, emotional or besieged he feels.

Invoking the name of the President is not manly. Far from it. It reeks of entitlement and sheer hubris we see from public figures who think they can be incompetent and get away with it because they “know people” and have a “God father”.

What did he hope to achieve by saying that only the President can fire him? He should be reminded that he is in that position solely because Kenyans voted for Mr Kenyatta and both he and his boss are answerable to Kenyans, and nobody is above the law.

Balala should know good leadership demands, first and foremost, owning up to the mistakes you have made and showing remorse, not pride like the little show he gave us last week.

The second thing Balala needs to understand is that the buck always stops with the leader. We don’t care who advised or misadvised him, he is the Cabinet Secretary, he is the leader we put in charge so responsibility falls squarely on his shoulders. Blaming other people and having knee-jerk reactions only proves that he has lost control of the ship.

Thirdly, he needs to stop insulting Kenyans by asking them to “go to hell”. That was rude and immature. It is the kind of thing you say behind closed doors, not in front of cameras. His next statement was even worse. He made his boss look bad. He led Kenyans to think President Kenyatta condones incompetence and that the President essentially does not care about accountability.

APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED

Fourth, I know he bowed to pressure and apologised. I believe I am speaking for many Kenyans when I say this; apology not accepted. Not accepted for the sole reason that it was laden with blame. He said he was let down by the “system” and that he was talking from a place of anger.

Well, let me tell him this; if his system let him down, it only means one thing, he is not on top of his game, so he should do the honourable thing and let somebody else give it a try.

As a leader, losing one’s temper in public is not a luxury one can afford. Not these days.

Here’s a suggestion. Balala should resign this weekend. This looks bad, and people have resigned for less anyway. He should begin by thanking the President for according him the opportunity to serve Kenyans.

Next, he should thank Kenyans for their support and understanding and tell us it was an honour and a pleasure to serve us. He should say that having mulled over the situation and, in the wake of the past events, he believes the sober thing to do is to step aside.

I am certain the President will accept his resignation. It’s the least he could do, for all that Balala has put him through in the last week.

Thereafter Balala disappear from the public eye.