Non-violent Civil Rights Movement Can Fast-track Nigeria’s Restructuring
It’s obvious from happenings around Nigeria in the past few months that restructuring the entity called Nigeria would not be a stroll in the park. There have been actions, counteractions and lots of push backs from those who are benefiting from the status quo.
With the ‘death’ of the restructuring bills in the National Assembly and the nonchalant posture of the executive towards this issue, many proponents of restructuring may have been discouraged and disenchanted.
I will appeal to them not to relent but keep pushing. They should regroup, reorganized and re-strategize. The foundation of any struggle around the world is to seek the truth, find remedies, apply justice, equity and promote dignity, compassion, peace, and love.
The Nigerian experience must be fashioned in such that the agitation for restructuring and regional autonomy must be fought with precision and effective strategies of non-violent civil rights movement. This strategy would succeed if there are disciplined planning and the intense commitment of a sustained direct-action movement of civil disobedient on a local, regional and national scale.
Proponents of restructuring in Nigeria can borrow from the civil rights movement experience in the sixties where non-cooperation and civil disobedient with non-violent strategies became the order of the day, time and moment in the history of the United States of America.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, a young aspiring leader became the voice of the African-American Civil rights and Human rights movement. He rose to the occasion magnificently, determined to fight Jim Crow laws, unjust laws, poverty, militarism, and racism.
He was called all sorts of names. But that didn’t deter him from pursuing his goals. I can foresee that those fighting for the restructuring of Nigeria will be called by all sorts of names. They should not be weary but remain faithful to the cause, strategize, and fix their eyes on the majestic and resolute outcome.
Restructuring advocate should become radical if they must be. Every great leader that ever lived had radical tendencies to some extent including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the most celebrated and greatest orator in US history. He was an ambassador for non-violence civil rights strategies and became the most recognized leader of the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King was considered radical that the FBI called him ‘the most dangerous man in America’
Supporters of restructuring must create a rallying point by coming together and demand the restructuring of Nigeria. There are already entities from the South-South, South East, South West and North Central. These groups collectively can become the agent of change Nigeria desperately desired.
The military constitution imposition must be done away with along with the unitary system which is counterproductive to a democratic form of government. A reformation of the constitution is absolutely essential void of military mentality and systems. Nigeria must be restructured to fast-track economic growth and entrepreneurial productivity and development.
Restructuring with true federalism option and regional autonomy (six regional zones: North-East, North-West, North-Central, South-West, South-East, and South-South) may be the only solution to the Nigerian impasse.
To achieve this, restructuring advocate must imbibe the fundamental tenets of Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence described in his first book, Stride Toward Freedom.
The six steps of nonviolent civil action as it relates to restructuring include:
Information gathering on restructuring, reform, elimination of the unitary system, economic and entrepreneurial transformation, regional autonomy, resource control, etc.
Education: It is essential to inform others, including the opposition of restructuring about the issue. This minimizes misunderstandings and gains support and sympathy.
Personal Commitment: Daily check and affirm faith in the philosophy and methods of nonviolence. Selfish intentions must be set aside and sacrifice for the noble cause of attaining regional autonomy, reform, peace and economic transformation.
Discussion/Negotiation: Using grace, humor, and intelligence, proponents of restructuring must confront the other party with a list of injustices and a plan for addressing and resolving these injustices.
Direct Action: This is the last resort. These are actions taken when the opponent is unwilling to enter into, or remain in, discussion/negotiation. In my opinion, the time is right for civil disobedient and non-cooperation until the call for restructuring is addressed by the government. The direct action if all efforts fail is civil disobedient and noncooperation with the ultimate goal of No election in 2019.
Reconciliation: Through reasoned compromise, both sides resolve the injustice with a plan of action. Each act of reconciliation is one step closer to building a united, peaceful and prosperous Nigeria.
Nonviolence believes that God is a God of justice. Restructuring is about justice.
It is my humble opinion that non-violent civil rights movement can fast-track Nigeria’s restructuring.
Prof. Babs Onabanjo: President/CEO: A.D. King Foundation, USA and Former President: Nigerian Alliance for Democracy: 1993- 1999