Conditions For Revolution In Nigeria

Conditions For Revolution In Nigeria

By Ephraim Emenanjo Adinlofu


In April this year, a call was made at a book launch by a bourgeois lawyer and an acclaimed legal scholar, Professor Ben Nwabueze, on the need for a bloody revolution in Nigeria. A journalist, Sulaimon Olanrewaju, a reporter with the Nigerian TRIBUNE, covered the event. Part of his report published on the 4th of April 2008 read thus: "Prominent Nigerians including Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Professor Ben Nwabueze, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma, Chief Olisa Agbakoba, NBA president and Chief Orji Kalu, former Abia State governor, on Thursday called for a revolution to wrest the country from the grips of underdevelopment. The people, who spoke at the public presentation in Lagos of three books by Prof. Ben Nwabueze, former secretary general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, however, disagreed on the form the revolution should take. While Nwabueze, Kalu, Agbakoba and Bola Tinubu, former Lagos State governor advocated a bloody revolution, Fashola, Danjuma, Chief GOK Ajayi opted for a peaceful revolution." {Emphasis mine}

And since that call, some journalists and public commentators have shifted base and joined the fray. To be candid, the ruling class are not bereft of qualitative ideas on ways to move Nigeria forward. The problem is that class interest has ruined its members' sense of reasoning. The chic of it is that the tiny minority does not want any surgical change that will alter drastically its privileged position. And that, is the dilemma with "Big men" democracy. They are so selfish that they are not prepared to sacrifice for the common good of all. They only "make their private interest look like a universal interest".

Part blame for our continual down ward slope into the abyss should be placed at the door steps of the 49 wise men who drafted the 1979 bourgeois constitution. The trickle down effect of that ÔÇśRank Zerox' American constitution is what we are going through to this day. That constitution was not done with the interest of Nigeria's component nationalities at heart. The document was one of the pillars of foundation for the booming strings in the legal profession. I believed that Nigerian has more lawyers than all the other countries in the West African sub-region put together. This is because the more cheats and crooks the system generates the more the lawyers. A country seduced by political leadership whose penchant for stealing is never in doubt. A country where most individuals tell lies even to themselves and steal what belongs to them; where a "good morning", accompanied with a hand shake, has other subdued meanings. Social consciences are now bought and sold at Oshodi market.

The generality of the people never enjoyed that constitution. It was a well packaged fraud. It was one of the most expensive constitutions to run in a neo-colonial, primitive and an underdeveloped capitalist economy. And since 1979 Nigerian lawyers with the active connivance of a thieving tiny political cabal have held sway. They have become part of our enigma. They drafted the electoral laws and yet go to court to give different sections of it, various divergent and conflicting interpretations, leaving the country in a steady state of "ALARM" situation. Most lawyers don't give a hoot whether Nigerians live or die. Majority of them simply defend the unjust social order to hilt irrespective of its devastating impact on the lives of their fellow being. Everybody wants to read law and become a lawyer. After which the person joins the aiding and abetting club of liars to speak big grammar and bend logic using big technical terms like "locus standi", "onus of proof" and "due process". While Nigerians eagerly await for a true locus standi and onus of proof, corruption is being beautified by lawyers with their sugar-coated tongues.

There are very few social lawyers, the rest are cockroaches and mosquitoes - pest to a whole nation. The NBA cannot even fight for the total independence of the judiciary talk less of doing same for the Police Force or the Electoral Commission. And they know the relevance of such independence in the promotion of enduring democracies in the advanced clime. Through their devious and covertly insidious activities in courts, these shameless lawyers encourage and induce people to steal, then go ahead to help the thieves to adjourn cases of corruption to no end. The law, which is supposed to act as a deterrent to these infectious acts and to well established electoral fraud amd malpractices, is now used to aid and abet criminals. Check out their legal fees and how many corrupt cases have had adjournments now and then! The EFCC now looks seemingly comatose. The agency's problems are compounded by these greedy lawyers who virtually behave like native doctors.Wonders shall never end in that country. We are fighting many wars at different fronts.

Besides, Nigerians can count on Chief Gani Fawehinmi {SAN}, Chief Femi Falana, Chief Olisa Agbakoba {SAN}, Festus Keyamo and Bamidele Aturu among others who are fighting for justice using the law as one of the most effective tools for social engineering. These are the people's lawyers. When these personalities call for a revolution, the enlightened ones among the masses will listen attentively. What ever money Chief Gani had made, he used most, in fighting for the cause of the down trodden. Thus when Professor Ben Nwabueze called for a bloody revolution, I just asked: what brand of revolution? Is it a bourgeois, a working class, cultural or a peasant revolution? I am sure he meant a bourgeois revolution which would cleanse the indiscipline among members of the ruling class and then return the system to the usual status quo. A shameless political class that sold out on June 12 over a clip of films.

But, does a revolution come because people call for it? Are revolutions no longer historically conditioned? Apart from Dr. Edwin Madunagu, Balarabe Musa, Professors Eskor Toyo, Attahiru Jega and Omafume Onoge, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Festus Iyayi, Femi Falana, Bamidele Aturu, where are the rest revolutionary intellectuals? Is the working class, the peasants, market women and other smaller oppressed and pauperised groups ready for it? Who will lead the revolution in such a way that the leader will not later be accused of tribalism, regional and religious bias? These questions need to be placed on a scale and weighed before one can talk about a revolution in Nigeria. We must learn from our history. It is easy to mouth, shout and write, calling for it, but are we also ready for its bloody twist and turns and final outcome?

"In the history of contemporary period," writes Professor Eskor Toyo in a paper presented at Kano in {1981} in honour of late Dr. Bala Muhammed titled PRP: IDEOLOGY AND REVOLUTION, "there are at least five ways by which a revolutionary party or group has come to power.

1. It may do so by an armed insurrection as in Russia in 1917, Eastern Europe at the end of the second world war, Cuba and Nicaragua.

2. It may do so by assuming the leadership of and radicalising an anti-colonial armed revolution as in Vietnam, North Korea, Angola or Mozambique.

3. It may do so by a military coup d'etat staged by revolutionary elements in the established armed forces as in Afganistan, Ethiopia, Benin Republic or Rawlings' Ghana.

4. It may do so through victory in a referendum as in the case of Guinea.

5. It may do so through victory in an election as in the case of the Convention People's Party in Ghana and in the experiences of Guyana."

The third option would have been realized by Major Nzeogwu and his fellow comrades in Nigeria on January 15, 1966 but for the failure of that revolutionary coup in the South. That third option was also realised in Libya in 1969. Again, the fifth option would have been realized in Nigeria but for the annulment of June 12, 1993 election which the progressives won but could not claim. However, the fifth option was profoundly realised in Venezuela in 1998 when Hugo Chavez, one of the most progressive and revolutionary great thinker of recent times, won election in a landslide victory. That victory was an undiluted victory for popular democracy despite all dubious efforts by America to thwart it. Funny USA, today they are celebrating what they always want to deny others!

However, if history should be our guide, in 1966, Majors Nzeogwu, Ademoyega, Ifeajuna, Anuforo, and Okafor led what they called a military "revolution" to save Nigeria from the throes of chaos and anomy orchestrated by bad political leadership. Even though a particular tribal group and region benefited from the fallout of that coup, we all knew the interpretation most people gave and still give to the coup? Now, knowing most Nigerians for their ability to manipulate tribe and religion, who will lead a people's revolution this time around such that one ethnic or tribal group will not accuse the rest of killing people mostly from its region?

What are the overriding social indicators that cut across tribes and ethnic groups which could stimulate the people into action? Where lies the common social denominator? Are the Nigerian working class, who daily bear the brunt of exploitation of our rugged neo-colonial capitalism, conscious and united enough? Where are the remainder of the Bakolori peasants of Sokoto who survived the slaughter in the 1980 of Shagari's use of brute force and death squads to ruthlessly suppress their uprisings? Are there other willing peasants across the country who are ready to join forces with the working class to blow away this unjust order? What about the interventionist tendency of a section of the International community in the whole set up? Have we forgotten the deaths of Patrice Lumumba of Congo Zaire, Amilcar Cabral of Guinea Bissau and Walter Rodney of Guyana etc, etc? Do we think the US and Britain with their scattered global network of spy masters, would fold their arms and allow Nigeria to fall into the hands of progressive nationalists at the detriment of their investments, big market and dangerous cravings for crude oil?

There is no doubt that the oppressed Nigerians know who their enemies are. The masses know their targets. It is a few cabal, resident in both North and South. They are less than 2% of the population. But, these targets are not soft targets. They are clever too and are fast thinkers. However, the only factor that counts against them is their number. They know it! And because they know it, they use other forms of control to check the angst of the masses. Most of us know these palliative forms and tactics. We don't need to look afar for one. Just visit the NVS websites and read comments planted by presumably mental adults about a particular piece of article or articles to see the divisive nature of enlightened and educated Nigerians. It is like war. People just pick any aspect of history that suits them, interpret it with hate and then embellish and garnish it with falsehood and flash it for the public to consume. They then beat their chest in retreat, go to bed and holler; "oh yes, I have dealt a blow on them, let them respond, and I will give them another salvo"! This is very, very unfortunate. I cry for my beloved country. Now, with those type of mindsets, how then do we carry out a revolution even if it is a bourgeois revolution?

The fact is that one of such baits was easily summoned and used to bastardised Nzeogwu's coup which some of our educated Nigerians bought and swallowed hook, line and sinker. I will repeat again for the umpteenth time, that in analysing Nzeogwu's revolutionary coup, the moment you divorce the social context of that revolution from the personalities deeply involved, the tendency is that your conclusion will be false. Background history to that coup must be accounted for and analysed pari passu with the personalities involved otherwise if you focus on the personalities only, then be rest assured you will end up on a wrong dangerous premise. Scare mongers and intellectuals who are very good at spreading panic and fear, will then push you to fall into negative intellectual tendencies and bourgeois ideological fancies of tribe, ethnicity, religion, and region. That has been the bane in the unscientific analyses of Nzeogwu's coup. And that I can safely foretell, is most likely going to be the bane of any revolution of whatever variant in Nigeria.

However, if the revolution {see Toyo's option one} is properly and uniformly coordinated whenever it starts, a true leader will emerge from it. A true revolution throws up its own leader. Properly and uniformly coordinated in this context means the ability of the oppressed groups in the present six regions to carry out a revolution in uniformity. A situation where for instance, two regions have started the revolt while the other four are mere spectators will make the revolution not only a laughing stock but a failure. History is replete with examples. Major Nzeogwu's revolutionary coup was regionalised and tribalised because it failed in the South. An example of peaceful revolution, as advocated by GOK Ajayi, T.Y Danjuma and Fashola, was the June 12, 1993 presidential election. It was a bloodless national revolution because of its scope of success but some of us who were on the ground then, were witnesses to the way the Nigerian bourgeoisies regionalized, tribalised and destroyed its popular essence.

What then can trigger a revolution in Nigeria? Simple answer: when poverty and hunger has reached an unbearable and intolerable level, the people will react. Therefore, I appeal to progressive forces to encourage president Musa Yaradua to keep implementing economic policies that will spread more poverty, hunger, unemployment, armed robbery, evil and wickedness on the land. We should encourage him to pursue and implement more anti-peoples' policies that would bite the generality of Nigerians harder. In fact, we ought to urge him on, to please increase the pump price of petrol from its present ÔÇślow price' to, at least, a-thousand naira per litre and on and on. The price of kerosene, gas and diesel fuel should be quadrupled. All subsidies should be removed. The government should be encouraged to retrench workers and to be ruthless with whoever dares to challenge the STATE. Yes, we should urge him on."We must see" the coming of "a revolution from the perspective of the poor" and not from the perspective of the rich. The rich, by calling for a tongue-in-cheek revolution, are merely sizing up the poor.

Again, all opposing views on Yar'Adua's govt should be censored and suppressed. We should stop our elusive fight against corruption and allow leaders to do what pleases them with our common wealth. If we do not encourage government thoughts along these lines, then we should bid good bye to a revolution. Revolutions come when there is enormous "discontent" deeply felt by the people "against discontent". At that point, you could smell the revolt of the masses in the air and could sniff it. It is then that the contradictions inherent in our neo-colonial, primitive and underdeveloped capitalist system will mature, rupture and then negate itself to bring forth a new social order. I submit therefore, that it is only history that will determine when, and the pattern, Nigeria's revolution will take, and not proclamations and declaration from dubious quarters. I rest my case!

Ephraim Emenanjo Adinlofu

ephraimadinlofu@hotmail.co.uk