12 Jul 2020

Dictators Are Always The Last To See A Looming Revolution

In 1989, while lounging on the sofa in my one bedroom flat in London, I watched on live television the unfolding revolution in Romania. It started in the city of Timisoara when the government used the secret police (Securitate) of Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator, to crush the protest against the eviction of the Pastor of the Hungarian Reformed Church.

However, on 21/December/1989, the communist party assembled some workers to grace Ceausescu’s speech on the happenings in Timisoara. There were over 100,000 of them who attended the rally simply because they were afraid to lose their jobs.

Few minutes into the speech, someone at the back started whistling and jeering at the dictator, and shouting "Ti-mi-șoa-ra! Ti-mi-șoa-ra!". Later, the rest of the crowd joined in booing the dictator. Ceausescu was stunned. Never in the history of his dictatorship has anything of such happened. He tried to pacify the crowd by increasing wages and scholarships, but the resentment grew stronger.

He didn’t know that the austerity measures his government put in place in other to pay off a $10 billion foreign debt was hurting Romanians. Who could have told him? Dictators surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear.

Like every dictator, Ceausescu was out of touch with his people. He was the last to know the feeling of his people. And he knew about it the hard way. The strongman was whisked back into the Central Committee building while the Securitate and other forces broke the gathering with brutal force on live Romania and world televisions. A lot of people died, including foreign journalists.

The following day, Elena, Ceausescu’s wife, got information that workers’ unions were marching towards Bucharest, the capital of Romania. They dispatched the army and the Securitate to dispel the approaching crowd only for the security personnel to join the demonstrators.

Ceausescu’s personal pilot was called in to fly out the dictator in a helicopter. The helicopter can only take 4 people out of 6 passengers present. The pilot was instructed to ask his unit commander to send in another helicopter.

The commander told the pilot over the phone that he should tell the dictator, "there has been a revolution, you are on your own, Good luck!". The pilot lied to Ceausescu that the other Copter was coming, he took 4 passengers and left. While airborne, the pilot dipped the helicopter up and down and lied to Ceausescu that he was avoiding anti-aircraft fire. The dictator panicked and asked him to land the helicopter, which eventually led to his arrest.

On 25/December/1989, Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were tried before a military tribunal. Within 2 hours, they were found guilty, sentenced to death by firing squad and subsequently killed. Within 4 days of the Romanian revolution, Ceausescu and his wife were dead. That’s how quickly things can turn around for dictators.

All the same, "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" - George Santayana. And such people are primarily located in Africa, particularly in Nigeria. Besides, there are many Ceausescus in Nigeria. From the village meetings to the Aso Rock presidential villa, dictators everywhere. They usually appear ordinary until they are given the instrument of power.

Once they consolidate power, they become dictators and start riding upon tigers that are getting hungry – apologies to Winston Churchill. They use the police, the military, and every other intimidating tactic to hold on to the people. By the time they realise that it is too late dismount the tigers, they are already consumed by the tigers. It happened to Ceausescu, it will still happen to other dictators.

For instance, Adams Oshiomhole, the Ceausescu of APC, started behaving like he was a tin god. He determined who becomes party flag bearers in all the elections. Adams forgot that all the Ceausescus at Aso villa were watching. Thus, when that lone voice shouted "Ti-mi-șoa-ra! Ti-mi-șoa-ra!" Like the Romanian Ceausescu, Adams was stunned, and dead – he died politically.

Another Nigerian Ceausescu that fell recently was Mr Ibrahim Magu of EFCC. This particular Ceausescu got so intoxicated with power that he thought he could wake up in the morning and put anyone in prison. In fact, he did exactly that but through the media. He disobeyed Court orders like he was the law upon himself.

As usual, Mr Magu woke up this faithful morning looking for who to imprison through the media. But a voice has already shouted "Ti-mi-șoa-ra! Ti-mi-șoa-ra!" It came from Mr Malami, the Attorney General. Magu was the last to see his downfall coming. He is currently in detention, and already guilty through media trial. He is down and out for good and may spend some time in prison.

Well, there are other Nigerian Ceausescus, which include all the state Governors and the national assembly members, etc. These are the people who will be on the run or dead whenever that lone voice finally shouts "Ti-mi-șoa-ra! Ti-mi-șoa-ra!".

Though President Buhari seems to be senile at the moment, he is still the head of the Ceausescus in Nigerian. He is the Emir of Nigeria. He is rarely heard these days, but his supposed actions are felt by all. Since the original Ceausescu (Abba Kyari) within the regime of Buhari died, Buhari’s presidency appears to be in disarray.

Even Aisha, Buhari’s wife, is struggling to find a place to stand at Aso rock, which has been taken over by some faceless power usurpers. The dangerous thing now is that there are loads of Ceausescus pulling the strings at Aso Rock. I hope they know that the Tigers they are riding upon are getting hungrier.

Recently, Buhari’s people from Katsina state protested. Northern women were in the forefront of the protest. Remember the Aba women riot of 1929. It is always highly effective when women take the lead. These mothers are loudly protesting against poverty and insecurity in the north, particularly in Katsina state.

These are mothers who do not have the money to prepare food for their families. They are mothers whose children are killed daily by bandits and boko haram. These conservative Muslim women are protesting on social media, calling on Buhari to resign. Have they forgotten that VP Osinbajo (a Christian and Yoruba) will become the president if Buhari resigns? They have not forgotten; they just don’t care anymore.

They have realised that only a competent leader would make food available for all. And that only a capable president would eliminate bandits and kidnappers by implementing good policies to that effect. That the president is from my village and practices the same religion with me doesn’t guarantee food on the table for the poor.

In fact, the elites use ethnicity and religion to divide poor Nigerians, but the gap is closing up. We heard that Mr Magu of EFCC, a Muslim, used a Christian Pastor to launder funds. You see, when it comes to embezzling our commonwealth, the Muslims involved will forget that Christians are infidels. And the Christians will forget that Muslims are trying to Islamise Nigeria.

But Nigeria is edging closer to that lone voice that will shout "Ti-mi-șoa-ra! Ti-mi-șoa-ra!" for the final time. For example, when the news of the arrest of Hushpuppi broke, I took interest in reading the comments' sections of the dailies. Hushpuppi is a Yoruba man, in the past, Igbos would have been hurling insults at Yorubas. Every comment was based on morality and not on ethnicity.

Likewise, when a video of an Igbo man being tortured by Pakistani drug lords emerged, every comment was based on morality rather than ethnicity. I said to myself, it seems my fellow poor masses are getting their senses back. It is no longer Igbo vs. Yoruba vs. Hausa, after all, Almajiri children have been used and dumped by their fellow Muslims. As you can see, the tigers are getting hungrier.

Overall, Ceausescu of Romania failed because he was out of touch with the plight of his people, until the revolution consumed him. In Nigeria, revolution is looming, but who will tell the Nigerian Ceausescus that the gap between the poor masses are closing up, and that the tigers are getting hungrier? 

Like Ceausescu was betrayed by his loyalists, when our own revolution starts, our political elites will see that the first people to cast the first stones will be their drivers, cooks, personal aides, etc. And they would be told, "there has been a revolution, you are on your own, Good luck!"