REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE, DEMOCRATIC SPACE AND THE GREAT NIGERIAN INQUISITION
"Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it. - Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth."
“It is in the nature of the revolution to betray the revolution” - Kole omotosho
In order to advance greatly in our journey towards a truly free and democratic society all hands are on deck for a free and fair election in April 2011. An icing on our cake has been the successful outcome of the people's revolution in Tunisia and Egypt which terminated decades of unfruitful military dictatorship in those countries. By extension Nigerian Youths are currently engaged in the difficult intellectual endeavor of discerning who our "Pharaoh" is upon whom our fury would be unleashed in the imminent Nigerian Revolution.
Ordinarily, the issue of Elections should not be the concern of real revolutionaries. If revolutionary change were indeed possible by the Ballot, Robert Mugabe and Hosni Mubarak and a host of other pseudo-democrats would have been ousted via democratic elections long ago. We must emphasize for the umpteenth time that the ballot box is no guarantee for revolutionary change but it is a possibility. If nothing happens before the elections, then whoever wins Nigeria's Presidency would inherit the gargantuan responsibility of either leading revolutionary change or else be consumed by it.
As we navigate the change process, we must be very proactive and interactive. It is impressive that quite a good number of public figures who are not office holders now consider themselves stakeholders with a voice on the state of the nation. I mean the likes of Prof Ben Nwabueze, Nigeria's greatest in Constitutional Law, Prof Wole Soyinka Nobel Laureate, Chinua Achebe World renowned author. We are also enriched from time to time by the contributions of numerous NGOs whose focus range from common societal ills as child prostitution to Human Rights and the sustenance of democracy and constitutionalism. We also have a plethora of internet websites which showcase the vibrancy of public discourse hitherto subdued by decades of unproductive totalitarian military dictatorships of Sanni Abacha, Ibrahim Babangida and Muhammadu Buhari.
Regrettably, a combination of the rot in our educational system and the work of spinners and image launderers has introduced confusion in the minds of the average Nigerian youth as to the dialectics of change. Undeterred we seek to rub minds continually so as to block lacunnae, or to timely address misconceptions, distortions or just plain ignorance. Accorrding to “The Stages of Change Theory” by Prochaska, Norcross and DiClemente, there are six stages to the theory of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and termination. The theory is applicable to political behaviour. Nigerian youths, if they ever made a sound assessment of the current state of the nation would have realized that change is imperative or slow death is sure to creep in. We have passed the pre-contemplation.
We know that things cannot continue the way they are now. A wise saying states that only a mad man would continue to do things the way the've always done and expect a different result. Nigerian youths are definitely motivated at this stage. We are at the threshold of action stage and can indeed borrow a leaf or two from our North African brothers in Egypt and Tunisia whose travails are not as great as those of Nigerian youths but still struggled for liberation.
Yes, we must vote and our votes must be made to count as we insist but what is the likely effect upon our daily lives? If there is not going to be any tangible easily quantifiable impact then the exercise would have been another futile endeavour. Is it going to be “business as usual" or are we indeed by our votes taking our destiny in our hands? Nigerians are a very simple and understanding people. You don’t have to be a magician to please us. We need no foreign models or heroes. On the Civilian side Lateef Jakande has set the standard while Murtala Muhammed remains the model among Military Dictators. We demand that Nigerians must be able to feel the "dividends of democratic change" before the end of 2011.
Truthfully, the lawyers’ maxim "volenti non fit injuria" (having consented, you cannot complain of injury) applies to choice of leadership by ballot. You vote a man you're stucked with his principles, ideals/ideology and capabilities hopefully for just the next four years although our crooked Democrats stubornly insist that it is for eight. This is the more reason why ballot choice in April Elections must be delibrate and not sentimental. In common parlance: As you make your bed so you lie on it. Nigerians are grateful for the constructive role of Prof Wole Soyinka, the Nobel Laureate who in 2007 called for rejection of ex-dictator Muhammadu Buhari but has indicated this time around (2011) a suggested choice for Presidency as a guide to Nigerians. I point him out because Nigerian elders are fond of playing the “fox” on critical National Issues. Youths must avoid that bad example of taking no stance until a winner is apparent. Declare your stance! If you’re convinced that your none of the three leading Candidates (Two in reality) is good enough then you’re at liberty to waste your Ballot on the remaining fifteen or so others or just plain ship out of Nigeria (to Egypt or Afganistan).
Do not also be misled by disgruntled Newspaper/internet writers quick to shower praises on “President Obama” but habour great contempt for anything Nigerian. Believe me, when a winner is declared in April they will write again to assert that they knew (or supported him) all along. Some of them are out to reap where they did not sow ending up as appointees of the Politicians they ridiculed or receiving patronage or Government land from them. There is no room for iconoclasts or fence-sitters in the 2011 Presidential Elections.
Democracy assumes that each voter independently makes up his mind who to cast his ballot for based on objective criteria and common sense. But common sense is not so common in our greatly traditional, deeply religious and highly pluraslistic society whose values and psyche has been corrupted by mass poverty: the favourite weapon of fascist dictators.
In consonance with democratic practice world wide, citizens with record of past misdeeds IN PUBLIC OFFICE are not electable into office in subsequent new elections. Common Sense dictates, if they arrogantly present themselves for office that voters reject them. Examples are legion. But what do we see in Nigeria today? Politicians are taking cover under the law (Constitutional presumption of innocence) to seek or continue in office despite past misdeeds – a repeat of the tragic Abubakar Transition error. Some seek high office to acquire IMMUNITY for past misdeeds! Some have entrenched themselves in the corridors of power since the tenure of the evil genius! Many are indicted but still cling to office under one form of immunity or other including the now famous immunity by delay of judicial proceedings.
The EFCC has done a commendable job by presenting a list to Nigerians of Public officers facing serious accusations of very serious crimes. But the job of screening candidates has been usurped by the Courts of Law. Voters must therefore guide themselves with certain non-legal criteria to apply in casting their votes. Nigerian Youths must apply common sense to discern the wheat from the chaff. They must examine candidatures as opposed to Political Parties.
One of the tasks before a new President to be elected in April is an examination BY COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY of how Nigeria and who and who held Nigeria down for fifty years contributing to its socio- economic and political adversity resulting in the highly degraded pauperized state of its citizenry. Nigeria's Ex-Dictators have a case to answer on this and it is only fair that a non-participant promulgate the inquiry. Unlike the Oputa Panel which they spunned, this one will give no room for escape. There is bound to be serious conflict of interest if an ex-dictator presides over the affairs of Nigeria in post 2011 election Nigeria.
There are candidates that Nigerians know should not be contesting elections but are helpless to stop. The Solution is to campaign against and vote against them at the Polls. Example: Anybody who has a record of toppling a democratically elected government of the Federation and ruling Nigeria as a Military Dictator should not get our votes. This is no punishment. The real punishment comes when the surviving coup plotters are put on trial in the criminal justice system especially for atrocities and looting during military rule.
It does not show common sense for a youth hoping for change through democratic elections to cast his ballot to any ex-Military dictator and expect revolutionary change. Those canvassing for return of an-ex-Dictator might not have given thought to this or are imprisoned by ethno-religious sentiments.
The Nigerian quagmire is captured in the seminal work of Professor Richard Joseph of Department of African Studies at Northwestern titled: "Inside the Dismal Tunnel". The way out of that tunnel is revolutionary change. But we must arm ourselves with the lessons of history. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” - George Santaya. We must examine our past to enable us chart the direction of change in the Nigerian Society.
By a public inquiry, a sound re-writing of our social contract can take place. A fair basis for allocation of culpability and justice can be established. But more importantly, the oppressed and surpressed Nigerian Youths can have a say in the determination of their destiny while saying good-bye to unemployment, mass poverty, lack of healthcare, bad roads, epileptic electricity supply and other ordinary amenities of life that are taken for granted in other climes.
Ours is a revolution against waste, fraud and abuse and the vampires who have held Nigerians in political and economic bondage for fifty years. It is a revolution for accountability retribution and redress. The Nigerian Pharaohs although brutal and bloody, must bow. Our young people are already down, they need fear no fall. Truth is, we live in a predator nation where - a mere microcosm of the state of nature. We drove the Dictator away in 1993 yet life is still brutish and short. But we are now ripe for an empowerment revolution and enthronement of a welfare-driven government. Our dignity as Nigerians needs restoration. It is not light but slow death that awaits the ordinary powerless Nigerian at the end of the tunnel. Our deliverance is in our hands. We must “rebuild” Nigeria from the ruins that corrupt incompetent and tyrannical civilian and Military Leaders have made of it, we must focus on elimination of waste, fraud and abuse in governance as well as loot recovery and bringing looters to justice. Ours is a revolution against vampires not Dictators. We have trod the path of lies, deceit and betrayal too long. We refuse to continue to walk on a famished into an endless cycle of poverty and degradation in a “dismal tunnel” that Nigeria now is. "Enough is enough!" "Let go of my people!!!"