Et Tu Nigeria...Talking About A Revolution?

by Prince Charles Dickson


Once more I am going to examine the French Revolution and do a little layman's comparism with our beloved Nigeria, a nation so blessed with enormous potentials and cursed with an incomprehensibly blind leadership.

The French Revolution historians disagree about the political and socioeconomic nature and circumstances of the Revolution. Less than one interpretation holds, one talks of the old aristocratic order of the Ancien R├ęgime succumbing to an alliance of the rising bourgeoisie, aggrieved peasants, and urban wage-earners. Another interpretation asserts that the Revolution resulted when various aristocratic and bourgeois reform movements spun out of control. According to this model, these movements coincided with popular movements of the new wage-earning classes and the provincial peasantry, but any alliance between classes was contingent and incidental.

However, adherents of both models identify many of the same features of the ancien r├ęgime as being among the causes of the Revolution. Among the many economic factors I would focus on one that is very evident in our nation today and we are all either neglecting it at best or worse just saying its not there.

The French revolution was sparked off by a poor economic situation, an unimaginable national debt, both caused and exacerbated by the burden of a grossly inequitable system of taxation. Same can be said of the situation on ground today in Nigeria today.

The power probe report has become politics, we are still watching to see the end of Iyabogate, Fani's fan of corruption and the many corruption saga. We are still yet to demystify the anatomy of Nigerian corruption. And we careless about its impact on the ordinary citizenry, simply because in my estimation at that level some form of corruption has also evolved, is being nurtured and then the thread only gets longer.

The only frightening thing is that we seem unperturbed, a building collapses and its days running into weeks no culprit punished, infact no one arrested before we even factor in one being punished. A Julius Berger truck sends tens to an early grave, and it ends there.

The Niger Delta militants are having a field day and we are treating the emerging leprosy with a massage. We are brewing a Nigerian Revolution and one hopes there are persons out there that know the implication. Most of us are either illusionist when it comes to history and this is so because we hardly learn from it. We know but we do not know or feign ignorance regarding the lessons of history.

One of the many triggers that fired the unrest and subsequent revolt in France was the Roman Catholic Church, the largest landowner in the country, which levied a harsh tax on crops known as dime. While the dime lessened the severity of the monarchy's tax increases, it nonetheless served to worsen the plight of the poorest who faced daily a struggle with malnutrition.

How we think in a slow motion and forget so fast as a people is to say the least strange. It hurts that despite the 'numerosity' of examples to fall back on, so as to avoid the pitfalls of the past we still fall into the same hole...why? Today we have rather than a Catholic Church, a PDP that has swallowed every other thing called a party in sight.

Everything they say and do often has been tailored to suit the oligarchy, to suit themselves, it has remained one law for the rich another for the poor. Plenty millions for constituency projects, Representatives, Senators and government official salaries with more to spare for their cronies and yet the poor cannot spare a nickel for bread.

While prison congestion continues, and approximately 80% of inmates were awaiting trial, ex-Governors are sent to same Prisons and while there ÔÇśbriefly' they flout their ill-gotten wealth without remorse. Every day, our leadership foists upon us different forms of hardship and the poor continue to battle malnutrition, thinking or imagining what the poorest suffer is sickening. However in the midst of these wants, enormous wealth is flouted, you see conspicuous consumption, despite the financial burden on the populace.

Allocations of mouth watering salaries to themselves, ensure foreign schools for their dependents, while teachers go strike for a month and the government at best speaks 'english'.

GSM credit cards for their girlfriends, mistress and concubines, after all almost a N100M was to be spent on a massager by a one time ÔÇśsaloonist' and former speaker of the Federal House, indeed it most be difficult to be custodian of stolen wealth, and at best immoral monies, so the need for frequent massage.

Without being critical and sounding unappreciative of government efforts, this administration is yet to embark on any meaningful business. In the light of which I ask when will they commence?

The entire National Assembly sits and conducts its business in a 'holy' manner but I beg to say that all the deceit do not remove the fact that today this nation is faced with a high unemployment rate, and high bread prices. Talking about high bread prices that prompted this reflection, the price of bread was a major factor in the French revolution. In Kaduna, Lagos, Jos, Abuja and other towns, bakers, dealers have in the last one year at one point or the other gone on strike, yet no one noticed. When will they debate bread, common bread, just bread, the same bread which they promised the people?

We are spending more money on food, food crisis or not, housing for all by the year infinity should be the slogan. We are degenerating further to that level of subsistence existence; we live for food for a day and hope for the next day. We may count ourselves lucky as not being Sudan, or Somali but with the situation there, the indices seem better, our footballers go to Sudan to play soccer as pros and get paid in dollars. It is easier to do business in Ghana and Burkina Faso and we are mopping.

There is a Christian denomination whose creed is embedded on the vision of "it is well" even in the worst of times. So, I dare say too that it is well, is it really well. We have the opportunity; we can still do a turn around, before we shed unnecessary tears.