There is a specter that the privileged and self appointed leaders in this country loath, and desperately fear, and this is to become like most Nigerians; vulnerable, poor, and at the mercy of the failed society they have forced the rest of us to live in.
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There is a specter that the privileged and self appointed leaders in this country loath, and desperately fear, and this is to become like most Nigerians; vulnerable, poor, and at the mercy of the failed society they have forced the rest of us to live in
I have noted that whenever the suggestion is made for a revolution in the country – not that it can happen, the leaders knowing what is at stake douse the fervor and caution about how it may end up destroying both the innocent and the guilty. To my mind that is a piece of crap. Granted that most of the wars that have been fought in history; both against tyranny or the imposition of tyranny have had as a goal the destruction of established order and the imposition of new or different order – good or bad. That the impositions of order through revolutions and wars have universally failed except in few cases is because those that are being oppressed are no different from their oppressors given the opportunity to reverse position. Most of the so-called corruption and self-destructive pastimes going on in the country would not be possible without the active or passive collaboration, and tacit encouragement of the populace.
A once powerful law enforcement officer, in fact, the Chief Law enforcer of the land was disgraced out of office a few years back because of his brazen corruption. He was charged, incarcerated and some of his loot returned to the national coffers. The interesting part was that when he was finally released, his hometown virtually went crazy over the return of their "illustrious" son who was only taking "their" share of the national cake and who probably thought his incarceration was just a vendetta. It was a grand occasion, complete with the clergy (on both sides of the divide), traditional rulers, leaders of thought (thoughtlessness?) and those the "big man" helped during his "reign". Members of a police training college he allegedly "helped" establish in his hometown welcomed their "hero" in ecstatic jubilation. My point is that though the conditions for a massive anti-establishment move are legion in our society, the spark that ignites a revolution is not there - the spark of a nationalistic idealism. Even the Niger Delta militancy totters on the brink of crass opportunism by the militants who operate without any clear philosophy or idealism and hence are subject to manipulation by their leaders, the Nigerian state and its external masters. We do not have the ingredients of a national rebirth because the Nigerian state is not national in the first place. Nigerians would rather defend and appreciate their clan, village, state (sometimes) and only rarely the nation, in their dealings with each other and with other people of Nigeria. The principle of divide and rule which was perfected by the colonial masters has been raised to a form of art in Nigeria.
We pride ourselves that the only "national institutions" in the country are the law enforcement and defense agencies such as the police and the army. We seem to think that once these institutions are stable, everything is fine and there is no need to change things or worry. Things may indeed be fine for the leadership but not for the rest of the country since they seem to answer only to the leadership and serve to protect them and not the rest of us. For students of history, the armed forces were never created to look after Nigerians or to ensure their safety and livelihood. These institutions were created by the colonial tricksters to ensure compliance of the populace to their demands, enforce tax collections and most importantly to put down insurrections. Unfortunately, such pernicious philosophies have not been abandoned in training our armed forces even today. It is difficult for a Nigerian soldier or a policeman to see a protesting student or any other Nigerian (as long as they do not exercise power) for that matter as an individual with rights and dignity of citizenship, when it is far easier to extirpate him/her as an enemy as labeled by the Nigerian political class (military or otherwise) – have you heard of bloody civilians? This helps to put what happened in Zaki-Biam, Odi, and several Universities across the country over the years in perspective. To further buttress my point, Nigerians living near our borders have been oppressed over the years by neighboring countries with incidences of rape, stealing and sometimes killing of innocent citizens. None of the members of the political class has been affected yet, so ordinary people cry in silence. Now witness what happened when one of the daughters of a former leader was involved in a skirmish with robbers and the response of the security forces to that particular incidence. What surprises me is that sometimes army formations are located not too far from such border areas and these are soldiers who practically live on the sweat and blood of Nigerians and yet cannot seem to lift a finger to defend them. And yet, I still think that a benevolent military dictatorship is needed to cobble this country into a real nation devoid of national parasites – a short-cut revolution if you please.
Even though there are deep divisions within the major and minor ethnic groups in the country, only the north appears to have mastered the art of compromise and political expediency. The other ethnic groups in the country are brought under control through promised economic and political advantages. A revolution may therefore not succeed in the country because there would be too many fronts to fight on and revolutions must be a focused endeavor with a clear and achievable goal, philosophical precision without prejudice, or danger of loss of momentum and a clearly selfless leadership. The short-lived "revolution" of the five majors in 1966 lost its focus and hence its very life when it was allowed to flounder in key regions of the country, thereby making a meaningful consolidation of the revolution a pipe dream. After the failure of the 1966 revolution, and its attendant ripples within the Nigerian polity, the leadership has ensured that nothing similar happens again, even at the cost of a civil war, failed democratic experiments and several coups d'etat.
The current state of affairs is further compounded by the fact that there is general lack of socio/political awareness, fundamental human rights and crass illiteracy amongst the populace which ironically includes some "educated" Nigerians. Thomas Jefferson once said "Educate the people generally and tyranny and injustice would vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day". It is clear that some of our leaders would not want to upset the apple cart by educating the people. It has become difficult to get a good foundational (primary and secondary) education in Nigeria unless you are willing and able to pay for it. The publicly funded schools are total shams and so politicized and underfunded that it is better to either abolish them or start afresh. The private schools our kids flock to are for the most part training our children to fit into the world economic order without regard for the needs of the country; its values, culture, history (which for the most part is not taught) and nationalistic aspirations. This means that the majority of kids are not schooled at all and our illiteracy rate is probably rising yearly.
The educational gap leads to the formation of a cesspool of undeveloped or underdeveloped talents that would be perpetually exploited by our leaders or become liabilities to the society. The children of our leaders never taste these sour grapes because they are whisked to the most expensive schools both at home and abroad. Presently, our psyche, though ideally multifaceted and multidimensional has been reduced to one – that of survival. It is no wonder that from sunrise to sundown the average Nigerian is simply trying to survive while the country appears to be collapsing around him. The average Nigerian is therefore unfocused as to the source of his problems and this makes taking action to free himself difficult.
Though it may be farfetched for our leaders to fear a revolution in the country – I may be wrong; there are simply no pointers in the horizon to such a lofty goal. A civil war, maybe, but a revolution, not yet! Curiously, two leaders; one a protagonist and the other an antagonist spoke about the possibility of a revolution a couple of years ago in tongue-in-cheek fashion. A former vice president of this country called for a revolution and the other a "civil war hero" pontificated on being cautionary. The vice president, obviously frustrated by his inability to attain power and the civil war "hero" fearful of losing his huge "business" concerns in the country – if not his life. My point is that these leaders were simply jiving and revolutionary ideas could never come from them because they have become part of our national tragedy.