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WE NEED REFORMATION, NOT REVOLUTION

By NBF News

A few weeks ago, Professor Ben Nwabueze, constitutional lawyer, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, former minister of education, statesman called for a violent revolution in Nigeria. It is not the first time he has done so.

He is also not the only eminent or 'ordinary' Nigerian to do so. Earlier in the year, Alhaji Maitama Sule, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and Chief Areoye Oyebola did. In fact, the Movement for Nigeria's Total Transformation (MNTT) of which Chief Oyebola (veteran journalist and one-time state commissioner) was reported in the Daily Sun of February 18, 2010, at page 39 as saying that the movement was poised for a 'hurricane revolution' in Nigeria.

Coming from some of the finest minds in the land, the call cannot be ignored. Neither can any casual observer of the Nigerian state ignore the frustration and almost hopelessness of the situation in which the country finds itself.

What is strange in these calls is that in Africa, elders such as Prof. Nwabueze and Co. do not beat war drums. But we are in a very unusual and precarious situation, it must be admitted.

Generally, revolution is a fundamental, and quite often, violent change in the socio-political structure of the society. Discontent and irreconciliable contradictions breed revolution with the view to establishing a new economic, political and social order in the society. It is not new in human societies. Europe was rocked by series of revolutions in 1830. Political revolutions such as the American Revolution (1775-83), French (1789), Russian (1917), Cuban (1959) are usually violent. An exception to these was the English Revolution of 1688, which was peaceful.

Admittedly, not all revolutions are violent. There have been some economic revolutions such as the industrial revolution in Europe and America in the 18th and 19th centuries, Japan in Post World War II and China since 1979 till date, which has vaulted China into the enviable position of the 2nd largest economy in the world, in a record time.

But revolution, violent or not, is not a tea party, according to Mao Tse Tung. It is a very serious and sometimes, extremely expensive business. Nobody can fault Mao. He is one of the best known revolutionaries in human history. He grew up in revolutionary circumstances. He was born in 1896. Fourteen years after (February 12, 1912), the 'Boy Emperor' of China was forced to abdicate following the republican revolution led by Yat-Sen in October 1908. A provisional government was established in the place of imperial rule, thus ending 267 years of Machuu dynastic rule and 2000 years of imperial rule in China.

This epoch-making revolution did not put an end to revolutionary tendencies in China. At age 18 in 1914, Mao Tse Tung began to feed his mind on the philosophy of social change. As a budding revolutionary thinker, he founded a journal of discussion and put forward the dialectic view that the phase of oppression of the people would be followed by a phase of their transformation, that the humiliation and weakness of China would be followed by China's emergence as a leading nation.

This turned out to be, perhaps, the most prophetic postulation of the 20th century. China suffered occupation and humiliation in the hands of Japan during World War II. Mao led a successful but bloody communist revolution in China in 1949. That laid a foundation for the economic revolution led by one of his Comrades-in-arms Dieng Xiaoping who emerged leader of China in 1978 after being purged twice and twice rehabilitated as a result of several counter revolutions. Millions lost their lives.

China gleefully announced to the world a few days ago, that it has overtaken her erstwhile oppressor (Japan) as the second largest economy in the world. This is not a fluke. The world had expected this; as China's economy has been projected to overtake USA's as the largest economy in the world in 2025.

China's meteoric economic growth has stunned the world. No nation, just none, has achieved such phenomenal growth in human history within such a short period. Yet, China remains a communist state. Indeed, China's feat shall continue to dumbfound and mesmerize the world, especially the apostles of free economy as the ONLY way to growth and development.

This seeming digression is not a treatise on China. Rather, it is to put into perspective, the ingredients of revolution. Revolution is borne out of nationalism, vision and undiluted passion for the fatherland; NOT a section (North or South, Christian or Muslim or ethnic nationality) of it. NOT for self. It's also about sacrifice, blood and sweat.

Nigeria is in dire strait. Poverty and squalor are rife everywhere. Frustration and despondency are quite palpable, except for the blind and deaf. Same for fear of insecurity. Nigeria can be likened to a stupendously wealthy and flamboyant father whose children are miserably malnourished. Frustration and desperation for survival have compelled many Nigerians to become pre-disposed to conflict, violence, human trafficking, prostitution and several other social vices that were uncommon in not-too-distant past, all due to monumental corruption and greed in a supposedly most religious country in the world.

Unless she was misquoted, one of the icons of our generation, Prof. Dora Akunyili was reported to have said, 'I am shocked that a Nigerian is saying that the biggest democracy in Africa, the largest populated African country is not a brand. If Nigeria is not a brand, then what is a brand? We are a brand, but unfortunately, we are a corruption brand, a brand where nothing works, and a brand where there is confusion.'

Going by the above, Nigeria is ripe, very ripe for a revolution. As young student activists in the mid 1970s, we yearned for it. As it has turned out, that era can easily pass for the golden age of Nigeria. My apologies to Gen. Yakubu Gowon (I have done so in the past). I do NOT, subscribe to a violent or bloody revolution in Nigeria. Rather than solve Nigerian's problems, it will compound them and create new ones. It will be manipulated and distorted by enemies of Nigeria. It will set off a chain of events beyond the imagination of anybody and inflict wounds that may never heal in a century.

The vampires (some of whom masquerade as leaders) who inflicted these pains on Nigerians will deploy their stupendous but ill-gotten wealth for their self and group preservation. They will feed the hapless citizens (those who are in dire need of liberation and freedom from their stranglehold) with falsehood. They will use imaginary, primordial and ordinarily innocuous differences as religion (Muslims versus Christians), region (North versus South, zoning and no zoning), fear, uncertainty, suspicion, violence etc.

The hunter will become the hunted. Through their corruption, greed and poor leadership, they have millions of canisters, ammunitions, fireballs and canon folders (almajiris, area boys, cultists and jobless youths and adults) at their beck and call. Remember, that they are also amongst the great merchants of death (drugs) -Indian hemp, cocaine, heroine, madras, etc which they can give out very generously.

As usual, they will flee to their opulent homes in some of the most exotic places on earth. The innocent ones will be left to bear the blunt. And Nigeria may not be the same again. Nigeria, as a geo-political entity, remains very fragile, many thumbs down for these vampires. Yet I do not agree with those who refer to her as a mere geographical expression. Reference to the amalgamation of 1914 as 'the mistake of 1914' irritates my sensitivities. Same with those who refer to any part of Nigeria as parasites or liabilities. Same goes for those who delude themselves as 'born to rule'

The literary icon Prof. Wole Soyinka once expressed regret that his was a wasted generation. The statement is even more apt with generations after him to which I belong. As an individual, I feel betrayed as a Nigerian, who dreamt of Nigeria as the hope of the black race. In spite of all her short-comings, wobble and tumble, there is hope for Nigeria. Not necessarily through a bloody or violent revolution. Reformation will do.

•Mr. Osarenren, a social commentator wrote from Benin City