Nigeria Matters

Recipe for Revolution

‘Nigeria has a population of 50 million. We are prepared to sacrifice 5 million for the revolution.’ –Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, January 15 1966 coup plotter as quoted in Alexander Madiebo’s ‘The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War.’

They say it cannot happen here. President Goodluck Jonathan’s men told us after a Federal Executive Council deliberation that the Egypt-style revolution that began in Tunisia and has become a shooting war in Libya cannot happen in Nigeria because our country has a ‘constitutional order.’ Whatever that means.

In case these fat cats who live in a world different from the one we inhabit do not know, may they be told that no two revolutions are exactly the same. Those who claim to be in charge of our affairs will do well to take these unpalatable facts to heart:

Down in the Niger Delta, ably supported by ‘believers’ outside the region, are people who have concluded that their lives are better off without the Nigerian state. Though criminals have desecrated the cause and the amnesty has created an apparent lull, if push comes to shove they will wreck havoc to achieve their goals. Thousands of impoverished Niger Deltans back them and no AK-47 can wipe out their hatred of the Nigerian state.

Up in the North are Islamic fundamentalists; the radicals fired by a vision not unlike that of Usman Dan Fodio, the nineteenth century Fulani Muslim teacher who established the Sokoto Caliphate. These men long for a brand of Islam that will lead to a state where Muslim-style justice and fair-play will flow. Although they frighten quite a few non-Muslims their deep-seated disgust with the status quo that holds the people down in shattering poverty and the elite who personify this system cannot be ignored. Boko Haram and other similar groups might have criminalized the whole ideal but they are not the face of the seething force that resents the rot in Nigeria. Come to think of it, the Boko Harams are bred by the Northern elite, an essential component of the Nigerian ruling class, who fuel the poverty and illiteracy that breeds the vermin of frustrated youth.

The South-West ought to worry discerning observers. A nasty struggle for the political soul of the Yoruba is brewing. What will happen if the ruling People’s Democratic Party fails to ‘capture’ the West? Imagine a scenario where the Independent National Electoral Commission announces the Action Congress of Nigeria as the loser of the elections in Lagos State. While politics is not mathematics, Nigeria is a unique tinderbox.

It may be argued that all this is mere politics. But only a non-student of Nigeria’s political history will underestimate the people of the South-West. There may just be an overwhelming number ready to meet bullets with their heads if matters become ugly in April. Among them may be small and apparently insignificant pockets who believe that what Nigeria needs is a bloodbath of perceived and real members of the elite.

My beloved Eastern heartland may be steeped in the never-ending quest for naira but if a revolution comes the area may produce foot soldiers from Owerri to Awka. They include those men and women still bent on resurrecting Biafra. Then there is the mass of jobless youths, especially those who have no opportunity in the East’s chequered if not vibrant commerce.

All these groups mentioned may team up to activate the revolution. They have different agendas but they may find a common interest in chopping off the heads of the Nigerian political and economic octopus. But this country’s revolutionary movement’s backbone are the millions of unemployed; impoverished families; the unjustly incarcerated; the politically persecuted; the voiceless who realize they have the option of fighting on their feet or dying on their backs.

Nigeria needs a revolution in order to survive. But will Nigerians go for one? It is said we are too docile; religion has castrated us; tribal bigotry rules us; politicians easily manipulate us, and we love the good life too much to leave it. Thus we can always ‘manage.’

But deep in my heart I know there are apparently insignificant Nigerians who are mobilizing and preparing; who are motivating themselves and their compatriots through their thoughts, speeches and writings. They will overcome the national inertia which makes the Federal Executive Council and its allies scorn the prospect of a revolutionized Nigeria.

Let the April elections reflect the people’s wishes or the dam may burst.

One Comment

  1. to Moni:I have been living in the US for a while now and even gtouhh I am confronted to discrimination every so often,it does not make me angry like it used to.Let me rephrase that, it does not make me angry each time and as strongly as it used to.I want to let you know why and why you need to make peace with it.I am not saying “don’t fight it” because I will always fight it but I am saying “do not let this hurt you” as a mother would tell you and as I tell my children.1)if you already have a degree higher than high school, you are more educated than probably 98% of the planet.2)if you have been in another country for more than a week,not even mentioning another continent,you are probably more traveled than most people on this planet.What this mean is that people relate to what they know.If you are traveled or educated or both,you will have encountered more differences or know of them or extrapolate. In Europe,a lot of people travel easily because it is cheap and in several hours driving,you are out of your country.I leave in Miami and after several hours driving,you are still in Florida.Also in Europe,since the countries are smaller,you are also more likely to encounter people from other countries.In every country,people that live in the “middle” of the country and that do not have access or have limited access to others that are different from them,are more likely to be narrow minded.Remember the size of the middle in the US!Also in the US, a lot of people do not travel for economic reasons (and with the gas prices it will become worse) and time reasons.If one only has 10 days of vacation every year, one will probably spend them with their out-of-state family.So where do people find their cues on foreign people:TV (the worst place for stereotypes and very limited for expanding knowledge unless you have cable or satellite) and personal experience.When I meet a new person here, I sometimes get “I was there during world war two” or “people from your city are so rude”,guess were I’m from.I also get jokes about how people from my country are promiscuous and don’t wash!Also geography of other countries is not very big here.Just learning about their own country is a lot of work.Now to be fair, when I went to Thailand, a little girl asked me if there was a princess in my country and it didn’t bother me. Even gtouhh Nigeria is a huge country, you can not expect people here to name a city.They probably don’t even know where it is.They may not even know that Africa is a continent!And this is also due to TV because they usually don’t mention countries and always say “from Africa” when speaking about somebody in the news.The best way to destroy stereotype is to educate.Look at it this way.You belong to an elite, a small percentage of people who have access to a knowledge most people don’t have access to. You are privileged. I am not saying you should not get outraged when somebody mentions about 419.It is extremely rude and obnoxious.However you may want to speak to people around you about your country and they may spread the word.Also clumping all Americans in a group of bigots is not fair either.I usually try to stay away from generalities as much as I can because they only bring stereotypes.Moni, I hope it will bring you more understanding.Unfortunately, prejudice has been around and will likely be around for a while.It is definitely not the US monopoly.Take care.Sandrine


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