Who is Afraid of a Revolution in Nigeria?

by SOC Okenwa

Late Niccolo Machiavelli it was who posited evergreenly that: “it must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in those who would profit by the new order”. And to Mao Zedong: “A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another”.

Revolutions have happened in some places in history and wherever it had taken place societies changed for good and better. The recent places modern-day revolutions had happened include Romania and the Philippines — a beautiful Christian country where a presidential amazon, Gloria Arroyo, is in charge of affairs of the state. Like Abuja official corruption Manila is endemic but unlike in Nigeria leaders in Philippines are swept aside by the evil fruits of corruption.

Whilst that of Romania was violent and bloody leading to the execution of the first family the Philippians’ own version was led by a Catholic Bishop and it was bloodless though late President Ferdinand Marcos fell from his corruption-ridden presidential perch. In both cases the people’s will triumphed over the autocratic dictates of dictators. And both societies were transformed democratically.

A good friend of mine in Cape Town, RSA, whom I had just visited, had told me as we discussed the Nigerian future nationhood that a revolution could not succeed back home simply because of many factors Nigerian: institutionalised corruption, ethnic divides, docility and fear of the masses and the rich lawless elite ever ready to use military means to put it down early enough before the social conflagration assumes a life of its own.

Some revolutions had happened spontaneously without any formal planning or organisation. Leading it through sometimes becomes an act of fate and/or popular mass appeal. In Nigeria the ethnic cleavages or tribal complexities present a veritable obstacle to mounting a revolution; the fundamentally dysfunctional system and Babel of tribal rancour and mistrust would most definitely render the exercise still-born. Yet these do not discourage any Rawlings from trying it out!

Still, it goes without saying that there are mini-revolutions going on presently in Nigeria — Niger Delta militancy, rule of law and due process as well as armed robbery. While those of the Niger Delta and organized banditry are of violent nature the President Yar’Adua-led brand is a pacific one which has determinedly de-terrorized the polity for close to one year running post-Obasanjo.

Niger Deltans are making oil exploration in Niger Delta a nightmarish experience kidnapping expatriates, blowing up oil installations and issuing forth threats of the dangers ahead unless equity and justice reigns. And armed robbers, as daring and bold as ever, are still visiting banks and other places carting away billions of naira and killing innocent people with the police presenting little or no challenge. And President Yar’Adua pushes his rule of law mantra fanatically allowing due process to prevail in a nation damaged by rascality and circumvention of rules and regulations.

The singular major obstacle to national renaissance in Nigeria has to do with the established fact that very few amongst us believe in the Nigerian bogus federal project. The fraudulent federalism has benefited few sleazy individuals at the center leaving a vast majority impoverished. Patriotism therefore becomes, in the psyche of many of our people, more of a foreign element, alien to our nationhood consciousness.

Who is really afraid of a revolution possibly holding in Nigeria? A recent social intellectual gathering in Lagos somewhat illustrated how some prominent progressive-minded Nigerians viewed the viability of a revolution as the only way of re-launching our hopes and dreams as a nation under Allah or God.

Launching two historic books few weeks back on Olusegun Obasanjo’s 8-year much-criticised presidency Prof Ben Nwabueze, former Education Minister, highlighted the political and economic chicanery that took place during ‘Babacracy’ drawing conclusions and apportioning blame. The well-researched books sought to remind Nigerians of many things OBJ did wrong or criminally failed to do as he piloted the ship of state.

Since our memory is very short as a people forgetting so easily it is important we remember in years to come how the Aremu of Ota consciously threw away and blew our national transformational chances. How he played god and became the Lord of the Manor!

In the book presentation in Lagos echoes of revolution were ignited and disseminated. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, ex-Governors Orji Uzor Kalu and Bola Tinubu openly canvassed revolutionary solutions to our national woes. Even Prof. Nwabueze equally advocated for a revolution as a way out of the dark tunnel. Revolutionising the way we are led and the way the system works in our country will go a long way to helping afforts at national recovery and re-discovery.

The only dissenting voice in the book launch came from retired General Theophilus Danjuma for obvious reasons. Gen. Danjuma counselled against any revolution considerations saying in essence that the implications could be self-defeating. Kalu, Tinubu and Atiku are radicals who fought ‘Baba’ and his brand of ancient democracy and in the process paid hugely for their effrontery. If a revolution were to happen today in Nigeria there is little doubt in which camp these trio would pitch their tents.

General Danjuma, who recently lost his bid to reclaim his confiscated oil bloc license, is morbidly afraid of a revolution in Nigeria because like his brothers-in-arms, Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Abdusalami Abubakar, Olusegun Obasanjo and others, who partook in the ruination of the nation any revolution will never spare them; spilling their bloods to atone for their collective politico-economic perfidy automatically becomes the first priority.

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