ONLY THE PEOPLE’S POWER CAN SALVAGE NIGERIA
There comes a time in the life of every nation when the people must rise in one voice and take a stand against unfavourable governance. We have seen it happen in other climes in many parts of the world, where the young and old in one voice, demanded justice and accountability in leadership, and because power resides with the people, they people always win.
If there is one thing we have learnt about great revolutions and revolutionaries over the years, it would be the fact that; ‘power belongs to the people’. That doesn’t mean that popular uprisings don’t fail, they do fail, but only to barrels of guns and gun powder as deployed by repressive regimes. Without going deep into ancient history, we can cite examples of a successful expression of ‘the people’s power’ in recent history, using the Arab spring of this decade as the background to this conversation.
The Arab Spring began in the northern African country of Tunisia in December 2010, when a Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself ablaze to protest the police’s subjective seizing of his ‘vegetable stand’ for failure to obtain a permit. The uprising quickly had a rippling effect on Egypt, whose populace were faced with similar challenge of an autocratic leadership. Following the vociferous but nonviolence protest, Tunisian President of 20 years, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on 14 January 2011 and In Egypt, the President Hosni Mubarak resigned on 11 February 2011, after 18 days of massive protests, putting an end to his 30 years in power. Therefore, the uprisings were a huge success.
Following the successes witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt, more revolutions sprung up in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. But these later ones quickly turned violent and armed conflict or civil wars, with Yemen and Syria still battling rebels till date and Libya a shadow of itself. The Bahrain revolution resulted in a crackdown on the people by the ruling family with the aid of Saudi Arabia. Thus, they all became failed uprisings. But we are not exponents of violent rallies, hence, I am focusing on the Tunis and Cairo model of these revolutions.
It is widely accepted as we all witnessed, that one of the reasons the first two revolutions of the Arab springs was very successful is because it was genuinely a ‘people’s movement’ with very minimal foreign influence from the so-called world powers. Another reason, which is the most important is that; the people were single-minded in their demands and ambitions for their countries. Other remote factors that propelled these revolutions to the heights we witnessed, is the fact that these countries are culturally, religiously and ideologically monolithic to a very large extent. Hence, it was easy to galvanize support for the movement, and this brings us to Nigeria.
As far as Nigeria is concerned, the questions to ask are: With the history we have as a country, does Nigeria need a united and purposeful revolution? Can Nigerians afford a revolution for the greater good of the country? And lastly, can Nigerians form a united front for a revolution? Your guess is as good as mine.
According to Jack A. Goldstone, “revolutions are complex processes that emerge from the social order becoming frayed in many areas at once. there are five elements that create an unstable social equilibrium: economic or fiscal strain, alienation and opposition among the elites, widespread popular anger at injustice, a persuasive shared narrative of resistance, and favorable international relations”. He further stressed that; “Revolutions have both structural and transient causes; structural causes are long-term and large-scale trends that undermine existing social institutions and relationships and transient causes are contingent events, or actions by particular individuals or groups, that reveal the impact of longer-term trends and often galvanize revolutionary oppositions to take further action”.
Just as it was in the Arab nations, the above denotation by Goldstone is manifest in Nigeria as we contemplate this, except the will to ‘galvanize revolutionary oppositions’. Of course, Nigeria is overripe and begging for a people’s revolution, and surely Nigerians can afford one. But the answer to the last question is a capital NO. No, Nigerians can not at this juncture in our history form a common front for a revolution due to our well documented sociological differences, and this is the major reason why we have not had our long overdue revolution.
But what we can have in Nigeria is that silent revolution of the mind. First of all things, we must rekindle the ‘we can do’ spirit in us, with the sole believe that irrespective of our tribes and religions, we can as a people locate our common ground and identify the common threats to our existence as entrenched by years of rot in the governance of our nation. If we must succeed as a people and a nation, we would have to do away with tribal, ethnic and religious chauvinism. We have to see the truth as what it is. The common threats to our cooperate existence is not religion and tribe, but; nepotism, bigotry and outright corruption. This has brought nothing but; inequality, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and insecurity amongst other depravities.
As a people, irrespective of ethnicity, tribe and religion, we must stand in opposition to any regime at whatever level, that seeks to divide us through these fault-lines, as that would be a ploy to hide the truth in plain sight. Nigeria is ours to rescue and this generation must do just that, as evidently the previous generations have failed our fatherland. We may not muster the streets as was witnessed in Tunis, Cairo, Alexandria and others cities, but we have our votes. This is in no way a call for 2019 general elections alone, if it were, then it’s already too late because the elections are already upon us. But this should be the line of thought going forward, we should not rest until Nigeria is better for us all.
It takes only the right leadership to set a nation on the path to prosperity and progress, and it takes the people to emplace the right leadership. Some have lost faith in the country, but we still believe in the salvageability of Nigeria, the ‘giant of Africa’. Yes, we can achieve it without violence or war, but the revolution of the mind. You are encouraged to influence fellow citizens as long as you believe we can do it. Together, we can salvage Nigeria. Arise!