Revolutions And Africa’s Lessons From Nigeria
“You never change things by fighting existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” –Buckminster Fuller, activist, change campaigner.”
I least expected that Monday August 5, 2019 would eclipse this quietly. The anxiety and phobia of the citizenry heightened at dawn as they patiently waited to catch a glimpse of “revolutionalists” protests in Nigeria.
The feeble voices of a revolution in Nigeria, backed by it’s “lone” initiator/convener, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, best described as a pseudo activist, whether of human rights; democratic rights or street protests rights infiltrated and punctured the serenity of sacred fiefdoms around Nigeria.
His masters and apostates waited patiently and quietly in the wings until the Federal Government arrested Sowore at his Lagos home to explain the concept and the action of the #RevolutionNow match. Sowore didn’t tag it #ProtestNowMatch. It’s the former!
Had Sowore branded it with the latter identity, the Federal Government would not have been bothered nor anybody else. But Sowore lucidly said, with much gusto that it is time for “Revolution in Nigeria now!” A lot of Nigerians didn’t know Sowore had a lot of veiled biological kinsmen and godfathers. He is of the Ijaw ethnic/Yoruba race and the Southwest in Nigeria is famed for “radical” intellectual agitations. But Sowore was misguided and so, he got this one religiously wrong! The DSS harmlessly hit him below the belt and he screamed uproariously. So, the revolutionary campaigner looked back and sighted his back-up force in kinsmen willing to be dragged into the game. They instantly conscripted into Sowore’s army of emergency revolutionalists, not necessarily for the sake of Nigeria, but to intimidate and frighten the Presidency into releasing a suspect of treasonable felony in the hands of the DSS.
There is nothing strange that Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka; human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana and some Afenifere ( Yoruba socio-cultural sect) cultural organisations had to be reminded and prodded to speak out in order to save Sowore from the hands of Nigeria’s secret police.
And so, intellectuals met in palaces and gardens in the Southwest and endorsed a vocal campaign to free Sowore. Most of them were prodded into the matter since its an action they could not vouch about how it started.
And they decided to rejig Sowore’s original concept in ideology and nomenclature to get public appeal. Nigerians were now served with a modified suffix with tag #RevolutionNow-Protests? It replaced Sowore’s #RevolutionNow match. Linguists might know the difference better. But at least, it raised a platform for these activists and rights crusaders to ventilate feelings, anger and personal grudges against the Government or in consonance with the feelings of their paymasters.
But of all the personalities clamoring for the release of Sowore; citing very clumsy excuses is Prof. Soyinka, who has sounded most hollow. Prof. Soyinka bellowed; “Nothing that he (Sowore) said to me in private engagement ever remotely approached intent to destabilise governance or bypass the normal democratic means of changing a government. I, therefore, find the reasons given by the Inspector-General of Police for the arrest and detention of this young ex-presidential candidate totally contrived and untenable, unsupported by any shred of evidence. His arrest is a travesty and violation of the fundamental rights of citizens to congregate and make public their concerns.”
With due respect to Soyinka, but it appears he is surreptitiously attempting to usurp the powers of Mr. President as the Chief Security Officer of Nigeria. To put it mildly, he unconvincingly interpreted the mindset of a sensational parrot like Sowore. Although, as a man conversant with the law, Femi Falana was a bit circumspect, but he ended up committing the same blunders very tacitly through hesitant or antagonistic comparism thus;
“The intention of the organisers of the rallies is to protest the worsening security situation in the country, demand payment of N30,000 minimum wage to workers and job creation for our army of unemployed youths e.t.c. cannot by any stretch of imagination be said to constitute terrorism or treason in any material particular.” And sounding somewhat childish, trivial or unlike the famed lawyer he is known, but bereft of ideas, Falana faintly said; “No doubt, the Nigeria Police Force has capitalised on the use of the word “revolution” to criminalise the protests. If revolution has become a criminal offence in Nigeria why were the leaders of the APC not charged for claiming to have carried out Nigeria’s democratic revolution which terminated the 16-year rule of the PDP in 2015?”
All what these two vocal voices in Nigeria attempted to do was to exculpate Sowore in diction and the planned action. None bothered to deeply excavate the matter. All that was convenient indicated a vague defence of democratic and fundamental human rights, even in the glaring instance, plotting and mobilising Nigerians to violently overthrow a legitimate Government by fronting the fluid reasons as partly recounted by a learned lawyer like Falana. Both fruitlessly attempted to justify Buhari’s call for a “ballot revolution” in 2011 as synonymous with Sowore’s #RevolutionNow. But the exhumed and replayed narratives yawned too far from the current reality and they found nothing to tether their perforated standpoints.
Shamefully though, scanty traces of the so-called #RevolutionNow protests to discredit President Muhammadu Buhari and declare him an unpopular leader were noticed only in Lagos and Abuja at obscure locations of these two mega cities in Nigeria. Nigeria did not explode again; those who wanted to torch it, found no thatched hut for the arson; the rainbow supernatural divinators could not stop the August rain. And the paid conspirators and vocalists had no audience to address. President Buhari triumphed again and against enemies of Nigeria.
It is what happens when the people annoint the right leadership; the same people trooped out to defend it. It was Rivers State Gov. Nyesom Wike who first voiced the rejection of #RevolutionNow, symbolic of South-South Nigeria. He was vehement and stern.
About four coalition of pro-Biafran groups led by the administrative secretary, Mr. Emeka Ibekwe clearly banned any form of manifestation of #RevolutionNow anywhere in the Southeast. The #IStandWithBuhari countered it, beginning from the North spanning all over Nigeria. Nigerians’ rejection of a personalized revolution, poorly scripted and backed by some foreign interests to break Nigeria into shreds has clearly shown that President Buhari has again reaffirmed himself as the choice of the masses of this nation. Information in public domain suggests that over 500 million dollars were budgeted for the breakdown of Nigeria.
But the Nigerian people have massively shunned their monetary inducements in preference for the unity and peaceful co-existence of the country as superior to any other interest or mouth-watering gratification. Africa must learn from Nigeria, the strength in the diversity of this nation. Like Prof. PLO Lumumba has always emphasized, Africa has always managed her diversities perfectly and Nigeria has replicated yet another example by shunning a #RevolutionNow to support Buhari, a populist leader.
The conveners and proponents have missed a golden chance to strike. Had this happened during the Jonathan Presidency, the protesters would have been enabled by angry masses to sack leaders right from the executive to the National Assembly.
And the reason is very simple. They were all working together to loot the country at the same time and very competitively. In fairness to their era, the President was looting; the Senate President was looting and virtually all the State Governors were looting the people so mindlessly..
But today, Nigerians have a Government which is truely for the Nigerian people in Buhari. He was voted to clean the Augean Stable; he is doing his job perfectly to the angst of the perpetual power monks. Buhari is fighting corruption;
re-organizing the military; retraining and equipping Nigerian troops. Except those obsessed with sycophantic bliss, the evidence is palpable even to the blind.
President Buhari’s militray cheifs have a sophistry and dexterity never before known in the last 15 years in Nigeria and today, they are inculcating discipline, loyalty and patriotism in the rank and file. It is manifest in their unyielding spirit in fighting insecurity and making the country safer for the citizenry.
These are the lessons Africa must learn from an incorruptible leader like President Buhari. Africa must wake up to the reality that when a leader fights insecurity and corruption for the citizens, it becomes a revolution in itself against revolutions. And no foreign backed force can dethrone him or bring down the government.
So, perverse souls like Sowore and his comrades, home and abroad must learn the hard facts of Jim Morrison in this wit; “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
Adeniyi is a pro-democracy activist based in Ogbomosho.