Femi Fani-Kayode: A word for our leaders

by Femi Fani-Kayode

Femi Fani-Kayode

Why do we always take ten steps forward and twenty
steps backwards? Why is our case and example one of constant failure, ineptitude, defeat, shame, lack and incompetence? What is wrong with the Federal Republic of Nigeria…

On the 20th April 1653 (exactly 360 years ago to the day that I am writing
this essay) Oliver Cromwell, who was the Lord Protector of England,
Scotland and Ireland and the greatest statesman and revolutionary that
England ever knew, stormed the English ”Rump Parliament” at Westminster and courageously pronounced the following words after which he sacked Parliament and boldly took power. He said:

”It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place,
which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by
your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all
good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God
for a few pieces of money. Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst
you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than
my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience
for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the
good of the Republic? Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this
sacred place, and turn’d the democracy temple into a den of thieves, by
your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably
odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get
grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining
bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!” -OLIVER
CROMWELL (1599-1658).

Cromwell was undoubtedly one of the greatest and most courageous men that ever lived and he is certainly one of my heroes. Not only was he moved by a compelling and irresistible zeal and thirst for righteousness in high
places and by the power of the Holy Spirit but he, like the biblical Jehu,
was ready to pay the supreme price and sacrifice his life in order to
effect it and bring lasting change to England. He abhorred corruption and
injustice and his puritan roots and christian fundamentalist background
and upbringing caused him to oppose the excesses of the Catholic church in
his day and the awesome power and influence of the Catholic Bishops and
their Pope. Quite apart from saving her her from the excesses of Catholicism and the sheer brutality of the Jesuit Order and the Spanish Inquisition, Cromwell literally and single-handedly also saved England from the tyranny of absolutist monarchs and the evil of corrupt Parliamentarians. He was indeed the father of modern-day parliamentary and participatory democracy in Great Britain and it was he alone that shattered the myth and demonic philosophy of the ”divine right of kings” to rule with ”absolute power”.

Let us carefully consider the words that he spoke and read them once
again. Let us imbibe their spirit and feel their power and passion. These
are sacred and divinely-inspired words that were spoken 360 years ago to a
sitting all-powerful Parliament that had just triumphed in a civil war
against the King of England and had chopped off his head. Cromwell, who
was a Member of Parliament himself, had led the armies of that Parliament
into the field of battle on numerous occasions. He was indeed the
Commander of it’s army and the main inspiration and motivator for the
revolution and rebellion against the King. Not only did he defeat the Royal
Army of King Charles 1st in various battles and win the civil war but he
also apprehended the King, arrested him, brought him to justice before the
courts of law and had him executed. This was the first time that a King
was brought to justice before a Court of Law and executed in the history
of England.  All seemed well and the House of Commons ruled until Cromwell
noticed how the new-found power of this new Parliament had utterly
corrupted it’s members. They were drunk with power and they wielded it
with impunity and no sense of decency and restraint. Worse still they
were hopelessly corrupt. In time he knew that they would have to go as
well. He knew that a new order, which truly imbibed the spirit of justice,
accountability, good governance, decency, christian sobriety, restraint
and democracy, had to be put in place.  He knew that only he could effect
that change and that is precisely what he did by furiously storming
Parliament, courageously confronting it’s members, speaking those chilling
yet insightful words and forcefully taking power from them on this very
day (April 20th) 360 years ago. He risked everything, including life,
liberty and limb. Yet, without hesitation, he did it all for his beloved
England. He was moved and driven by his deeply religious convictions and
his puritanical faith. Nothing could stop him and, for him, failure was
not an option because He knew that God was with him.  He not only
succeeded beyond his wildest imagination but he also laid a glorious
foundation for the future of England and he was probably the greatest
reformer that ever ruled that great and sturdy island nation.

I look at Nigeria today and the behaviour of our collective overlords
reminds me very much of the behaviour of the pre-Cromwellian ”Rump
Parliament” in England. Can anyone be in any doubt that it is time for us
to speak those same words that Oliver Cromwell spoke to the English
Parliament on April 20th, 1653 to our own our leaders here in Nigeria. Are
those words not more appropriate for our leaders today than at any other
time in our history? Yet who will utter them? Who will go forth
courageously and speak truth to tyranny in the power of the Lord. When
will our God raise our own deliverer? Where is our own Oliver Cromwell or
our own biblical Jehu? When will the Nigerian people say ”enough is
enough” and demand the change that they so desperately crave and yearn?
When will they wake up from their accursed slumber and wipe away the
faecal mess with which they have been stained, smothered, blinded,
deafened and silenced? When will the Luciferian spell that has been placed
upon them be finally broken? When will they be free of this unwholesome
bondage and be rid of their godless fears? When will their shackles be
finally broken and when will they see, feel, hear and live again? When, O
when, will our people be free and when will they become the pride of
Africa that they were destined to be?

Why has fate been so cruel to us and why has our star dimmed and refused
to shine brightly? Why do we always take ten steps forward and twenty
steps backwards? Why is our case and example one of constant failure,
ineptitude, defeat, shame, lack and incompetence? What is wrong with the
Federal Republic of Nigeria and what plagues and afflicts the Nigerian
people? Since 1960 every single one of our potential deliverers have
failed. They have not been allowed to emerge and even when they do emerge
they have not been allowed to succeed. They have either been killed,
jailed, vilified, belittled or destroyed by the system and the
neo-colonial conservative forces that have sworn to resist change. Worse
still the sheer naivety, nauseating timidity and simple lack of insight
and foresight of the ordinary people, who seem to have cultivated an
extraordinary capacity to tolerate injustice, incompetence, wickedness and
evil in their land, does not help. As a matter of fact it is that attitude
and that cowardly and weak mindset that has sustained the disastrous
system that has held Nigeria captive since 1960. The average Nigerian would
rather go to the church or to the mosque to bear his or her mind to the
priest or imam and pray about his or her numerous challenges rather than
march in the streets and demand a change for the better from their
Government and President. Yet it is only in our country that men and women
suffer from such a lack of firm resolve and such a sorry and tepid
affliction. Karl Marx’s view that ”religion is the opium of the masses”
has no greater meaning or significance anywhere in the world than in
Nigeria where we all, in a most cowardly manner, hide behind the cleric
and imam’s ornate robes and refuse to insist on our God-given rights from
the government and the state. What a tragedy we have become. We deserve
nothing but pity.

Other nations have been blessed with many Oliver Cromwell’s over the
centuries and years yet sadly it is not so with us. Ill-fortune is our
portion and we are cursed because we enjoy killing and vilifying all of
our heroes and deliverers whilst others recognise and revere theirs and
grant them the right and opportunity to do that which they were born to
do- that is to take their respective nations by the scruff of the neck, to
take them from strength to strength and to lead them to glory. A few
examples will suffice. The United States of America had George Washington,
Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. France had Marat, Robspiere,
Napolean, Jaques De Gaulle and Francois Mitterand. Russia had Lenin,
Stalin and Gorbachev. Germany had Count Bismark and Helmut Schmidt.
Britain, a truly blessed land, had Cromwell, William Gladstone, Winston
Churchill and Margaret Thatcher. Italy had Garibaldi. Ghana had Kwame
Nkrumah and John Jerry Rawlings. Burkina Faso had Thomas Sankara. South
Africa had Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. Senegal had Leopold Senghor.
Kenya had Jomo Kenyatta and Odinga Odinga. The Congo had Patrice Lumuba.
Zimbabwe had Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe (yes Mugabe). Israel had Ben Gurion, Golda Meir and Menachim Begin. Chile had Alleyende. Cuba had Fidel Castro. Angola had Dos Santos. Bolivia had Oscar Bolivar. Venezuela had
Hugo Chavez. India had Pundit Nehru, Mahatmah Gandhi and Indira Ghandi.
Pakistan had Mohammed Ali Jinah and Zuhlfikar Ali Bhutto. Turkey had Kamel
Attaturk. Libya had Muammar Ghaddafi (yes Ghaddafi). Egypt had Gammel
Nasser. Jordan had King Hussein. Iran had Ayatollah Khomeini. Singapore
had Lee Kwan Yew. Malaysia had Dr. Mahatir. The list goes on and on and
from continent to continent.

All these names belonged to great and noble men and women who made their
mark and created a great legacy for their respective nations and peoples
even though some of them were murdered, jailed and cut short whilst doing
so. Yet in the end each and everyone of them triumphed because they made a
difference to their generation and to those that came after them from
generation to generation. In the Nigerian context the question is this-
when will our great stars emerge and when will Nigeria’s time to shine on
the world stage come? When will the words of Oliver Cromwell find
relevance in our space and when will the Lord answer our prayer and
deliver us from the evil that plagues our land. May God bless and redeem
our beloved homeland. May He have mercy upon her, may He defend her, may
He deliver her and may He cause His face to shine brightly upon her. One
day our time will come. One day Nigeria shall shine.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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