By Akin Ojumu

For all their dullness and uppity snobbishness, there are few things to love about the British. Their parliamentary debate, for one thing, is comparable to none. Stepping onto the floor of the British Commons is like entering a lion’s den or a Roman colosseum where you get eaten alive. The floor speeches are brutal, ruthless, and merciless. It's a place where politicians wield words, as swords, as deadly weapons to rip the heart out of their opponents.

Boris Johnson, the frazzled haired British PM, who himself makes it a habit of ruthlessly taking down his opponents, was at the receiving end of the Sword of Damocles a few days ago, when he stood to face questions about his attendance at parties hosted at 10 Downing Street where alcohol was served at a time when his own administration had instituted a nationwide lockdown and restriction on movements and social gatherings were curtailed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In reminiscence of the scene in Julius Caesar, when the Roman Senators came forward one at a time to plunge their knives into Caesar’s heart as they assassinate him on the floor of the Senate, the British MPs stood up one after another to deliver fatal blows upon fatal blows to the hapless and defenseless Prime Minister, who looked bedraggled and squirmy.

Here’s a sample of the stinging rebukes.

Keir Starmer, Labor Party Leader:
“Well, there we have it. After months of deceit and deception, the pathetic spectacle of a man who's run out of road. His defense…his defense…that he didn't realize he was at a party it…it…it’s so ridiculous that it's actually offensive to the British public. He's finally been forced to admit what everyone knew that when the whole country was locked down, he was hosting boozy parties in Downing Street. Is he now going to do the decent thing and resign?”

Karl Turner, Labor MP, Kingston Upon Hull East:
“He has not apologized, Mr Speaker, for breaking the rules and breaking the law. He's sorry because he's been caught. He is bang to rights. So, when my constituents were making unimaginable…unimaginable…decisions, he was hosting a boozy party in Downing Street. So, how does he think he can still maintain the one rule for him and another for the rest of us. He cannot. And he must resign.”

With each MP’s passing remarks, the blow of the rebuke seemed to shrink Boris Johnson to size. He looked like a man who knows he's in big trouble and he seemed to sense the end of his political career might be near. The little defense he could muster on his own behalf, that he didn’t realize he was at a party, made him look even worse, as cheers of ridicule rained down on him from the gallery. In an uncharacteristic sheepish fashion, Boris Johnson was reduced to offering a timid apology for his bad behavior.

As much as I enjoy seeing the otherwise brashly and sassy Boris Johnson squirm and sweat under the burning light of accountability, there’s a lot to admire about the guy all the same. He at least admitted his wrong and apologized for it, unlike a former POTUS who would have denied the accusation and would have gone ahead to call it fake news and his base of evangelical supporters would have hailed him for lying to the public about his actions.

It's also difficult not to draw a comparison between this incidence of the British Prime Minister being held accountable for breaking the law and Nigeria where politicians who break the law are not only not held accountable but are instead rewarded by being elevated to even higher political offices. Case in point, Bourdillon Boulevard.

You wouldn’t, by looking at Nigeria, know that the country was once a British colony and the people were for many years ruled by British colonial masters. The more than sixty years of British rule seem to have left no lasting positive impression on the Nigerian people. The moment the British handed over to the natives, Nigerians simply relapsed to their primitive ways. What a shame!


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