Theories have been part of bit and pieces of human experience. They have been adapted to suit local peculiarities, and where necessary, they have been adopted in the quest to find solutions to the mystery of the quotidian experiences of the Homo Sapien.
One of such theoretical postulations whose reality shaped the nature and nurture of a society was the one offered by the great Russian thinker Vladmir Lenin .He believed that ‘the forces of oppression came to power by force and violence, and sustain their bloody reign through violence, and consequently, only violence can displace them’.
Nnaemeka Oruh repositions the Nigerian situation in view of this Lenin’s position and he believes that in order to achieve the objective Lenin advocated, there should be an ‘alliance of the workers, peasants and the military in order to destroy the oppressors’.
The flow of argument in this piece is an examination of the practicality or otherwise of this Lenin-Oruh approach in view of the Nigerian situation. It has to be established that Oruh’s stance presupposes the existence of two antithetical groups-the elected rulership who unleash violence and the ruled that have been at the receiving end of the maladministration of the elected few. This is the classification Lenin dichotomized into the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
NATURE OF THE ACTORS: A CASE FOR REORIENTATION
A scrutiny of the sort of the proletariat shows that this class is made up of all the work force in the polity irrespective of their nature and orientation. Thus, the soldier, the air force man, the police officer, the market man and woman, the civil servant, the black smith, the brick layer, etc., all of them have a stake in the quest for a better society. The existence of the peasant worker in Nigerian context is fast disappearing because one leveler in the nature of access to the basics in the country is the vast divide between the work force and the elected rulership.
What makes the issue of “an alliance among workers, peasants, and the military” almost a mirage is that the type of their poverty- experience is graded. This tendency makes those in the military see themselves as more privileged than the market woman or the teacher, for instance. The complex, arising from the access to weaponry, might have led to the “bloody civilian” syndrome; something akin to regarding other members of the work force as sub-humans. The civil servant does not see the bricklayer as a partner, rather somebody whose forte is carrying cement blocks should not rub shoulders with a higher executive officer, for instance. This mutual stand-offishness has been with the Nigerian for long and there is no indication that it is going to abate.
What should be done to remove this impediment, thus ensuring a formidable opposition to the oppressors, is a calculated reorientation of the proletariat so that members of one group do not see other members as inferior. A practical instance is how a lawyer from Isale Eko, a Lagos suburb convinces an Alumonjeri boy of Sokoto to see his situation as resulting from the inaction of an elected politician in Zamfara.
Members of this group should embrace Western education. This position is necessary if any meaningful impact is to be achieved in the course of acquiring the intellectual resources needed for the struggle. The language of the 21st century is the language of western civilization pronged in western language, IT language and technology. Even if we are going to adapt these materials to suit our local realities, we still have to arm ourselves with a deep knowledge of what we are going to adapt.
The need for members of this group to be able to discriminate between terrestrial and extraterrestrial developments is desirable. Too much noise, resulting from the conviction that corruption and its allied forces are the handiwork of God Almighty and its Him alone that can remove them, is becoming prevalent in Nigeria. It is a dangerous trend whose evolution and development should be nib in the bud, if we are not to have a thoroughly permissive proletariat on our hands.
The antagonist’s class is the oppressors. This group comprises, in the Nigerian context, the elected public officers. What makes the membership of this group peculiar is that the elected officers were members of the proletariat class before election changed their identities. It is also a fact that, after a specified period of time, many of these oppressors will cease to be members of this class, only for some members of the proletariat to be elected into the bourgeois class. This identity-crisis creates a peculiarity that is difficult to define because a proletariat of today may become an oppressor tomorrow while an oppressor today may become a proletariat tomorrow. However, does it imply that a person’s membership of the class makes him display the peculiar tendencies of members of that class? In other words, is proletarianism and burgeoisnism not more attitudinal than belonging to a class?
THE WAY OUT
The nature of social stratification in Europe is different from what is obtained in Africa due to the peculiarity of governance, communal and family ties. These social and political indices are entrenched in the make – up of the grass roots which have a great influence on the swing of the political pendulum. Accentuating the relevance of these indices in Nigeria is high poverty level and prevalent illiteracy coupled with the absence of a common language in propagating an interest of national good (one may make a case for the homogeneity of English, but when the numbers of Nigerians who interact effectively in the language is considered, one may realize that the language has not been positioned to prepare the proletariat for the role they have to execute in the Lenin-Oruh prescriptions for Nigeria).
Thus, pitching the proletariat against the bourgeoisie for the purpose of an absolute elimination of the latter may be asking for the moon. In 1993 Nigeria there was this election that was described as the freest and fairest in the history of Nigeria. However the military junta of the time ensured that the winner of the election was sworn into the morgue instead of the state house. It was the height of social and political insult that could be heaped on any proletariat; the most debased share of national prosperity any partner in an equal togetherness could apportion to the other partner. Yet, when the acclaimed winner was slammed in jail preparatory to his being murdered, majority of the so called educated Nigerians started singing a tune smacked of betrayal: June 12 became a Yoruba affair, an ethnic stigma. Those who dialogued June 12 with the military’s front burners and compromised it, are Mr. Fix this and fix that of the current administration with their apprentices nearing graduation come 2007.
When the protest of June 12 ensued like it was expected, it was vehement in the Western part of the country, and so insistent was the aversion against the annulment that many lives were lost, properties destroyed or looted. The protest was pedestrian in the Eastern part of the country while it was non-existent in the north. One began to wonder where the 14 million Nigerians whose hopes were dashed by the annulment were when Nigerians were being shot in Lagos, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode, etc? The June 12 saga was a veritable test-case for the cooperation of the oppressors but somebody failed to take-up the gauntlet.
The first step towards fashioning meaningful resolutions to our acclaimed dislocated political togetherness is to; first, acknowledge the ominous disillusionments arising from the strange bed fellowship. It is a fact that the current political arrangement is fraught with avoidable suspicion which makes transparent trust in the actors a mirage. The arrangement has been favorably disposed to certain part of the country while other parts are being made to believe that they are not worthy of the leadership of a place they called their country.
The issue of sincerity of purpose is very paramount to the success of any movement. In any motility, there is always the leader and the led .If the leaders are not trusted by the led; the eventual collapse of the venture is already inherent in its formation. This interpret that whatever the form the struggle is going to take-physical or psychological- every effort must be expended to clear the minds of the implementing group of any doubt about the sincerity of the leading group. Achieving this objective lies in opening all lines of communication between the two groups and other relevant groups in the ambit of the struggle.
The various constitutional conferences paved the way for our independence; I do not see why jaw jaw is not capable of solving the current imbroglio.
In spite of the current jamboree going on in Abuja, Nigerian writers, human rights organizations, and those who are genuinely interested in Nigeria should continue to demand for a Sovereign National Conference instead of a fettered meeting of some expired and not too expired minds.
The current administration of Mr. Obasanjo may not be well disposed to the idea, but I believe that someday, a more reasonable and progressive government will see the need for Nigerians to sit at a table as equals and discuss the nature of their future. That is my position.