Does Nigeria need revolution?

BY ABDULLAH TIJANI

The political stage of Nigeria was recently filled with revolution. This came from some group of people with the intention to change the way of governance and the system of ruling. However, this movement has received some acceptance — mostly from the poor, and has been condemned — mostly from the rich and political elite.

It is true that Nigeria is facing a lot of problems — the ones intentionally caused by the minority in power, and designed to unconsciously exploit the masses. Meanwhile, if nothing is done to reverse course, sustainability of average Nigerians may be impossible.

Revolution, according to its philosophy, is a dramatic and fundamental change — not restricted to only political change. A clear example is the end of racial segregation associated with charismatic leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. Even religion was accused of repressing popular political revolution. The philosophy said revolution is not brought as pursuant to a specific time or area, but a necessity that should occur any time and anywhere there is a need for social change. 

The contemptuous claim that whether or not Nigeria is due for revolution is a question of fact that needs to be put in an analytical lab for justification. 

After Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, the hope of the masses who have suffered in the hands of the military dictators was high; hoping to see change in their living. Unfortunately, after the end of the second decade, the expected change proved nothing but negative. However, despite the shortchange in the changes Nigerians expected, the minds of average Nigerians are at rest knowing the ruling government will soon vacate office, or there will soon be another election after four years; perhaps, the ‘bad’ ruling cohorts will be voted out of office. Unfortunately, this has not been so. Despite fresh election, the impression the ruling government expenses is not the change as proclaimed. The blame is not limited to the present, but the past government did not leave an identical development to be proud about.

Before transition of government in 2015, for 16 years, it would not be wrong to say that Nigeria practiced a one-party system — where a political party controlled the realm of government. Unfortunately, this government failed to solve the basic problem of basic amenities that an average Nigerian would need to live a decent life. From good roads, electricity, access to good and quality water, and security of life and property — these are the rights of a citizen, not a privilege.

In Nigeria, corruption is an unwanted parasite, eating and killing its host, but it is as if we celebrate vice we should fight. In 2012, Nigeria was estimated to have lost over $400 billion to corruption since independence. This huge amount of money would have been enough to service the country’s budget for more than 12 years, and provide all amenities Nigeria lacks in its way to development.

However, upon the transition of government in 2015 and emergence of new leaders, the new president declared war against corruption. This, an average Nigerian would think would bring an end to the endemic problem. But apparently more that five years, the declaration looks more or less like a deceit. Undeniable allegations have being brought against the government for using its anti-graft agency, Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) to fight only the opposition. It brings people to the conclusion that it is only the opposition that are corrupt. While this is trending, this government does not decline in surrounding itself with the people who have been alleged to be corrupt. One would think that if the War Against Corruption is sincere, the initiators would not afford to befriend those who have been alleged to have ruined the nation. No wonder, the 2018 Transparency International Corruption Index ranked Nigeria 114th in the 180 countries listed which makes Denmark topped the list as the least corrupt, and Somalia 180th making it as the most corrupt. Political elites, and apparently those in the realm of government are not exonerated in this. Instead of fighting corruption, they are busy fighting opposition, so corruption keeps growing.

Rule of law in Nigeria is nothing to compare of, but a fool of law. Government are probing the journalists for exposing the bad eggs in its shell, and the activists for exercising their rights. Fundamental human rights are subjected to abuse in the hands of those who ought to protect them. It is said that no free society can exist without a journalist, but political leaders of nowadays do not want to agree. Anything against them is a crime. One thing we should be aware of is that a society without journalism is doomed. Our government is waging war against journalism, its victory is the nation’s doom.

The blame for this unending menace could be traced to the system of government which systematically centralised political power in the hands of the few, and left them wielding enormous amount of power. This, however, has perverted the definition of democracy we tend to practice that supposedly gives the masses the power to rule. If I were to be the judge, I would proclaim this system as guilty. 

Revolution being the last resort for Nigeria is not alien to our planet. The 10 most important revolution in the history of the world, according to Worldatlas, “have shaped the society in a number of powerful ways.” The victim societies are evidently better off than the time before the revolution. 

If there is still any contestation as to the need for a revolution in order to attain development in Nigeria, one would need to ask when corruption, extortion, abuse of rule of law, and abuse of political power will end. What if we reason along with John Locke who said that every citizen has a right to life, liberty and estate under natural law. In his opinion, a government acting against these interests could be deposed by a revolution against government tyranny. In fact, if the problems within the system are so difficult to find, changing the system itself might proffer a lasting solution.

If the above does not justify the need for revolution, then one would ask what will? If the time is not now, when?

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