Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it
– Frantz Fanon
This column has served as a medium through which I have ceaselessly carpeted the rank, woozy and preposterous falsities defining Nigerian politics; an avenue through which I have incessantly expressed by disgust at the horrid, sordid and gory nature of politics in “Africa’s largest democracy|”. For those loyal readers who religiously follow my fiery discourses on this page, you can testify to the fact that my comments on the sorry state of the Nigerian State have always been very candid and devoid of any form of sentiments – primordial or personal.
Today’s piece explores how we can non-violently fight and defeat the subsisting order of Serfdom that has become a national Albatross; a discourse on the strategies that should be adopted by Nigerians in the quest for freedom from the phantom menaces ruining Nigeria – the clique of unrepentant demagogues who have sunk their bloody fangs into the affairs of the Nigerian State and are not willing to cede any ground; the way out of this point-no-point; the methods that can help restore some semblance of sanity to the system, without bloodshed; the only option that is left to us in the face of the blatant refusal of the ruling scions of this Gestapo State to listen to wise counsel from concerned Nigerians to turn a new leaf. I am a student of non-violence, and I believe that outside physical violence, there are other very peaceful, effective, sustainable and worthy strategies that can be adopted in defeating this state of force, without physical force. It is my sincere believe that if we must take a stand against this system of death, we should take it boldly, firmly and bloodlessly; that is all things being equal.
The truth of the matter is that the task of rebuilding Nigeria cannot be left in the leprous hands of the gangsters currently running the show: It is the collective duty of each and every one of us. The freaks illegally managing our affairs will not just wake up one day and decide to surrender all the goodies they currently enjoy without putting up some form of resistance – It is not in their character to do so, judging from their antecedents. That is why we must gear up to fight for our freedom; for freedom of any kind cannot be obtained without some form of struggle – violent or non-violent, as the case may be. As Fredrick Douglas would say, “power concedes nothing without a struggle. It never did and it never will”. Can we hope to tame a lion into a poodle by pampering it? The answer is a capital NO!
Ours is an ingeniously designed, indigenous colonial regime that is determined to stay put by all means. It is an authoritarian system where absolute power is god. Defeating such a system requires a lot of determination and sacrifice on our part. We must gird our loins and be prepared to take all necessary measures to cleanse this system of its afflictions, and truly move it forward. We must be doggedly and ruggedly committed to the sacred duty of rescuing, re-inventing, re-engineering and repositioning our country for unfettered greatness. We must utilize all the potent weapons in our arsenal to free this country from the strangulating sleeper-hold of its enemies.
The leadership deficits in Nigeria, with its attendant negative consequences on the people, owe its existence to the unreliability of the processes and systems of governance in this country. This lack of structural functionality gives room for the operators of the machinery of state – government – to abdicate from responsibly discharging their core constitutional duties. We simply don’t have a security alarm system in place to check maladministration. That is why even if you bring angels to run this country they will fail woefully because the vehicle to successfully prosecute their programs, novel as they might be, is completely weather-beaten. But the ruling class, whose predecessors configured the system to function in the washed up manner it currently does, would prefer that things remain the way they are since it protects their greedy interests. That is why it has become imperative that we push for the modification of all the faulty processes and institutions that engender the present criminal system of injustice. This is the most crucial national sacrifice we must be prepared to make in our quest for a new Nigeria.
In the art of war, the first step towards defeating your enemy is to locate his power base and destroying it completely. Obliterating you enemy’s citadel of power crushes him totally in spirit, soul and body, preventing him from launching reprisal attacks. The supreme headquarters of every army is its primary source of power. It is where all the battle plans are hashed, field officers designated, and orders dished out. Establishing the true position of this power base before the commencement of battle, gives you a strategic advantage over your adversary. Just like in a military situation, every political system has a power base – the group to whom real power belongs. It’s not a secret who the people running Nigeria are; the group with the real power. Power lies in the hands of the political godfathers and their protégés – political office holders; in the hands of the members of the establishment, who determine how this country works. They are the ones who make investment decisions – who produces, what is produced, how to produce, what is distributed, when to distribute, and to whom to distribute. They nominate candidates for political positions and other appointments, and set agenda for the doctrinal system. Due to their mastery of the art of word magic, which they frequently deploy in confusing the multitude, and their control of the means of coercion, they expect total submission from us. They have remained relevant because we have continued to recognize them as the legitimate entities that they are not.
“Passive Resistance” – a compound name for non-violent struggle – is the most effective strategy to bloodlessly challenge the hegemony of the political establishment; a time-tested strategy that has been successfully utilized in other climes. There are different ways of going about this, depending on the situation at hand, which ranges from agitations, demonstrations, negotiations, vigils, fasts, civil disobedience, voting, and if necessary, arbitration. But if these strategies fail, we can resort to such economic sanctions as strikes, picketing, general strikes, commercial boycotts, sit-down strikes and non-payment of taxes – whatever works. These standard, practical methods of non-violent resistance have overtime proved to be very effective tools of popular struggle the world over.
The civil rights movement in the United States during the late 1950s and 1960s, led by the late Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.; Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha campaigns, first applied in South Africa, against anti-Indian legislations, and later in India, against British colonial policies, culminating in India’s independence in 1947; the toppling of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos by the “people power” of Corazon Aquino’s followers, in 1986; the discontent that drove Jean-Claude Duvalier, son of long-time Haitian dictator “papa Doc” Duvalier, from power; the popular discontent in 1987, that forced the South Korean military dictatorship to relinquish power and pave way for the first democratic elections in that country’s history; the fall of South Africa’s Apartheid regime in 1994; the collapse of the Soviet-led Communist bloc; the mass discontent in Nigeria during the nineties that saw off the military boys, making room for the return of civil rule in 1999, and several other examples, too numerous to mention, attests to the effectiveness of mass, non-violent resistance.
But great care must be taken to ensure that any measure adopted is well crafted, forceful and sustained. This is where the civil society and other such anti-establishment organizations operating within and outside Nigeria will come in handy – in properly sensitizing and mobilizing the people towards taking the practical actions that will put a permanent stop to the excesses of the dehydrated incubuses voraciously sucking us dry. While the efforts so far made by all concerned stakeholders are quite commendable – especially in the area of political education – more can be still be done in raising the awareness of a larger portion of the populace who are largely ignorant of events in the country’s political theater. The Nigerian rulers I know are chicken-hearted cowards who cannot stand sustained pressure for too long. They have lasted for so long because we have gutlessly refrained from confronting them since all these years. The few demonstrations that have been staged across this country over the years have been disappointingly half-witted. That is something our leaders can live with.
Strike actions have been worse-off, for how can we expect to be given any kind of serious attention when we chicken out from a two weeks strike, after just four days? It just doesn’t make sense. That is why things have remained the way they are. We must see through any course of action we adopt. We must organize on a large scale to press home any position we assume on any national issue and stand by those positions, no matter what is thrown at us, for according to Benjamin Franklin, “we must resolve to perform what we ought; perform without fail what we resolve” (emphasis mine).
(TO BE CONTINUED)
IMAGE: Nicolas Raymond