Wonders shall never end. For day’s end, I cannot seem to hear the last of overtly optimistic Nigerians about how Nigeria will soon recreate the Egyptian People’s Revolution that took that Arab nation by storm in recent weeks. I laugh; I mean, I laugh like Obasanjo. Nigerians are awful daydreamers; and I’m very sorry to burst their bubble. Here is why Egypt will never happen in Nigeria. I mean, never ever happen: no buts, ifs and when. Here are why.
First, Egyptians actually exist. Let me bring this home, the term “Nigerian” is a geographical derived expression. Nigerians don’t exist; the probability of finding a true Nigerian is directly proportional to their proximate distance from benefiting from the Nigerian state largesse. Basically put, the patriotic fervor of Nigerians is felt only when they are participating in the “lootocracy” that dominates in our various State Houses: Local, State or Federal.
Nigerians are more likely to identify with their family, ethnic group or region than the country. Contrast this with Egypt with a proud long history that stretches millennia. Egyptians are not easily divided. The rule and divide tactics that any Nigerian dictator will deploy to break up street protests failed woefully in Egypt for this reason.
I can imagine a protest against the People Destruction Party (PDP) in Lagos being easily mowed and broken up with soldiers of South-South origin that feel no compunction in dealing with these “troublesome ngbati people”. Sorrows and tears will follow. It happened in Odi, it happened in Malu village and it will happen again. Soldiers and security personnel are decidedly sent to areas where they are not from to mete out punishment to locals.
The powers that be easily polarize Nigerians exactly because we allow them; they beat the drumbeats of tribe like Atiku and IBB when it is most convenient for them, like they did during their zoning debacle at the PDP primaries and we sadly follow. Revolutions thrive under exact opposite conditions: of unity.
Furthermore a military force with no professional standards and which sees itself first as an occupation force makes attempting what happened in Egypt suicidal in Nigeria. Ever driven into the convoy of the rulers of Nigeria? The brutality of their security personnel knows no bound. Using horse whips and abounding with such sadism that will make Hitler jealous, the Nigeria military force sees itself first as an institution in place to protect power. Insular from the realities of everyday living with constant electricity supplied at the barracks where their soldiers are quartered and with no requirement for compulsory military service (as it obtains in Egypt) – the military have no connection to the people that arm them. Turn them out and they will do as asked: kill and go.
Perhaps this mentality makes it more likely an average Nigerian will rather go about their daily business under crushing oppression from the ruling class than protest. First, no mother will allow a son or daughter hit the streets with the possibility of “dying in vain”. People sacrifice when they know their sacrifice will amount to something.
It is not as if Nigerians are exactly cowards; heroes want to feel like they are doing something that count for the larger good. Aside that an average Nigerian has no sense of larger good, of community and of country, they know intuitively that their sacrifices may not count. The young Tunisian chap that committed suicide to liberate two countries and counting will never be forgotten. Can the same be said of the Nigerians that died fighting for democracy and fair vote in 2003 and 2007? Who even remembers them? Name one hero of the gubernatorial victories of Ekiti, Osun, Ondo and Edo?
Nigerian heroes are more likely to be shamed than praised. We praise villains, petty thieves like Annenih and Bode George, and glorify coup plotters and murderers like IBB, Abacha and Buhari. Go to any Nigerian message board and the supporters of these folks abound fighting each other; eating off their masters’ crumbs.
Chief MKO Abiola sacrificed for democracy in Nigeria and if you go to Abuja today not a single monument to this hero of democracy. Rather, Abacha the villain is honored. He even has a stadium named after him! Such is the stuff of Nigerian legend. The story book of Nigeria is filled with heroes that have died in vain, while villains like Olusegun Obasanjo write the postscripts and mutter “I dey laugh”. Nigeria defies all explanation; she is truly a land of contradictions.
Egyptians are not Nigerians. They are not cowards. Say whatever you may, cowardice and Arab can hardly appear in the same sentence. They will suicide bomb and immolate for a cause they believe in: ask Americans. We Nigerians will sell our soul for a pot of porridge; sorry I mean a brown envelope. Oh lest I forget, the only Nigerian to date to attempt suicide bombing got scared and got his laps burned. Remember the Christmas day bomber? That was even after he went through the process of Arabization in Yemen. He still could not deliver; I laugh at those wishing Egypt in Nigeria. It will never happen.
By the way, what is your price? I ask because I have learned from experience that there is a price for every Nigerian. All that needs to be done to discourage a Google Executive in Lagos from leading a revolution is a choice land in Abuja like our journalists seem to have indulged in. What is the price of a Nigerian? A foreign friend of mine once commented that there are two types of Nigerian: “those that are corrupt, and those waiting on an opportunity to partake in corruption”. I pray it is not true.
I weep for my country.