THEY all happened almost simultaneously, as if in a choreography. On February 9, 2011, a huge crowd of protesters had gathered at the Tahir Square in Cairo, Egypt. Unruly, eyes dilating like pellets of ice immersed in mug-full Campari liquor, it was obvious that this was a crowd determined to change the status quo. They shouted anti-government slogans, calling for an end to oppression, economic adversities and collapse of the Arabian spirit in the Arab world.
A couple of weeks before then, specifically on January 14, 2001, at the Habib Bourguiba Boulevard in Tunis, Tunisia, it was the same huge crowd, mobilized to end the decadent order. Similarly on February 3, 2011, a mammoth crowd of dissidents gathered at the Sana’a in Yemen, calling for the resignation of President Ali Abdullahi Saleh. A couple of months after, specifically on a cold morning of April 29, 2011, hundreds of thousands of people at Baniyas, Syria, gathered to upturn the ruling order.
So, did the #RevolutionNow conveners actually want to bring down the Muhammadu Buhari government last week and if yes, were they representative of the people of Nigeria? I asked this question because, if the Arab Spring upheavals were what they sought to clone, we must place it side by side the gloat of the Buhari presidency which likened their own version to a child’s tantrum and a poor imitation of the original. Femi Adesina, Buhari’s spokesman, articulated the Buhari government’s disdain for and scant belief in the possibility of a rehash of an Arab Spring-like revolution in Nigeria. My reading of this mockery of the protests was that Buhari, like the ruling class elite now and before him, was persuaded that the internal contradictions in Nigeria can never allow for a people’s revolt against governmental oppressors.
“A revolution is always a mass thing, not a sprinkle of young boys and girls you saw yesterday in different parts of the country. I think it was just a funny thing to call it a revolution protest.” the Buhari publicist said.
However, my reading of the presidency’s dismissive appraisal of the #RevolutionNow protests shows that that mockery is situated on a wonky pedestal. Buhari’s basis for dismissing the protest includes its scant attendance, absence of belligerence of the protesters and the fact that things have not yet “boiled over.” Of a truth, on the outward, Omoyele Sowore’s #RevolutionNow, which provoked that disdainful appraisal of the Nigerian presidency, may look too sparse to qualify for a people’s revolt. However, proclaiming it a failure may be a fatal mis-reading of the temperature of revolts.
Though Buhari must have been buoyed into lethargy by the many contradictions of the Nigerian state that might not have allowed Nigerians to troupe out in their millions to convince government that Buhari is sitting on a keg of gunpowder, things are actually fast boiling over from within.
In his weekly Facebook epistle, Adesina was further lionized to make further fatal fallacious blunders. Citing the viral call of a 4-year old boy who urged his mum to calm down, entitled Why We Need to Calm Down, the president’s spokesman made same ruling elite mistake of equating infrastructural projects with development and imagining that the people are happy. He regaled Nigerians with construction projects which he said were unprecedented in Nigeria’s history. Does he know that development is mental and not merely physical structures?
While Nigeria may indeed have witnessed a flurry of Chinese loan-funded, ostensibly corruption-ridden infrastructural projects, Nigerians’ joy level has sunk considerably under Buhari. Development is in the peace that has eluded Nigerians in the last five years, in the widespread belief that Nigeria is rudderless under Buhari and the fear that Boko Haram, ISWAP, ISIS and bandits are presiding over the Nigerian affairs, rather than the elected political elite.
By definition, a revolution is a fundamental, sudden change in political power and political organization. It is propelled when a people revolt against an oppressive government run by generally perceived incompetent people.
Successful revolutions have been known to succumb to some indices. James DeFronzo’s Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements, which can be regarded as a handbook for revolution, provided some insights. Mass frustration resulting in local uprisings, dissident elites, powerful unifying motivations, a severe crisis paralyzing state administrative and coercive power and a permissive or tolerant world context are some of the indices DeFronzo suggested cannot but be present if a revolt against an existing order must sail through.
A critical look at the Nigerian situation reveals the following: Whereas there is mass frustration in the country, this has seldom resulted in local uprisings, except the June 12 riots. In the same vein, the Nigerian elites, being part and parcel of the maggots that lace the Nigerian decadence, are literally having a saturnalia inside the Nigerian sewage and are far from being dissident against the status quo. Again, whereas there are motivations for revolt in virtually all parts of Nigeria, the complexities in diversities of tribe, religion and culture have compelled divisive motivations.
The Nigerian ruling elites are coercive, reckless and feckless in their rule but the contradictory indices earlier provided have restrained massive and widespread paralysis of governments. Allied to these is the fact that while there is indeed a sidon look of the international system against the slide in the affairs of Nigeria, this has lionized the ruling elite into further tightening the screw of their misrule.
Only a surface analysis would conclude that Nigeria is not ripe for a revolution. A combination of an incompetent ruling class and a gale of hopelessness are oscillating in the Nigerian sky. A conservative estimate will show that, at least 90 per cent Nigerians, from all the geopolitical zones, are miserable, hopeless and perceiving life as worthless. At every point, those purportedly elected to provide succor daily advertise confounding helplessness.
Look at the Bauchi State governor who recently appointed a Special Assistant on Unmarried Women Affairs. Or the systemic chaos that is the order of the day in Nigeria. Check out the symbolism of Edo State where the unrivalled lawlessness of Adams Oshiomhole is jamming the arrogance of power of Godwin Obaseki. And of course, the massive theft of Nigeria’s inheritance and full-blown wretchedness of Nigerians, both of which are tribal-blind and religion-jaundiced.
What are those contradictions that made the #RevolutionNow look like a failure and which have made Adesina and his ilk gloat at the possibility of an overturn of the system? One is the structural default that Nigeria sits upon. No successful revolt can happen, in the words of DeFronzo, without unifying motivations. Though there is mass frustration, the motivations for revolt are not unifying. This necessitated what happened recently in Katsina, Buhari’s home state. Tired of their massive killing by bandits with a corresponding incapability of their son, Buhari and his sidekick governor, Aminu Masari, Katsina people blocked the roads and asked for their twin resignation.
Also, persuaded that the unprecedented heists in government and Buhari’s cancerous cronyism are offshoots of a systemic imbalance, Southern Nigeria has consistently called for restructuring. In the ears of a feudal North used to kowtowing, however, that singsong is absolute bunkum. Again, while bandits who come from a seeming culture that justifies slaughtering have butchered more Southern Kaduna people than the number of rams they probably slaughtered in their lifetime, the rest of Nigeria’s consternation at this bloodletting sounds strange to the sons of perdition whose DNA is violence. So where can there be one voice against systemic disorder as to propel people to massively gather to upturn a decadent status-quo like Buhari’s?
The above are ills resulting from the 1914 calamitous dalliance of Flora Shaw and her British soldier liaison, Lord Lugard. This resulted in last week’s “sprinkle of young boys and girls,” a la the presidency’s gloat, as against a mass uprising, even though the indices of revolution, the hopelessness, the frustrations, are present everywhere. The truth is, there is no difference between the widespread despondency in Katsina-Ala, the frustration in Nkalagu or the massive disdain with Nigerian ruling class in Igboho but motivations for dissent are not the same.
Femi Adesina and the ruling class as a whole may however not have too long to gloat. To gloat at the impracticability of a revolution is a fallacious appeal to authority.
It is in the enlightened self interest of the Nigerian ruling class to flatten the curves of inequalities and gross lack and want, otherwise, its thinking that Nigerians are incapable of rising against it will collapse.
This was the thinking of the runners of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The lyrics of Orwellian Beasts of England say this much and are a pointer to the fact that, if the oppression and frustration in Nigeria continue unabated, it may be a push for a surge of the adrenaline of the Nigerian oppressed.
Are the Nigerian ruling elite who believe that the decadent order would continue ad infinitum listening?
Olukoya and ill-logics of the Pentecostal Republic
GENERAL Overseer, Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, Pastor Daniel Olukoya, polluted Nigeria’s religio-political rivers last week. Apparently swimming in the pool of what my friend, Ebenezer Obadare, labeled Nigeria’s incestuous interplay of religion and politics in what he labeled a Nigerian Pentecostal Republic, the pastor took liberty on the pulpit to spew illogicalities that have become the preserve of so-called men of God.
The Olukoya epistle contained so many other cants. Speaking under the immunity of this Pentecostal Republic and a narrative from the pulpit that Nigerian politicians must have operated under a demonic spell, Olukoya highlighted what made Awolowo one of the most unique minds of the last century. From his prosecution of the war with zero borrowing as Yakubu Gowon’s Minister of Finance, to his ascetic lifestyle and how he mesmerized the Gowon cabinet with “Simple Primary Economics,” Awolowo, in the words of Olukoya, was simply a genius.
However, rather than those alluring superlatives being held as qualifications for eternal life, both in the hearts of the people and the Kingdom of God which admits only the purest of hearts, Olukoya punctured all those attributes he ascribed to Awolowo with what I call the irreverent logic of the pulpit. It is a logic which Pentecostal overlords have deployed to hoodwink their congregants and the public.
Olukoya then magisterially proclaimed that the Chief Obafemi Awolowo never fulfilled his destiny because he did not give his life to Christ. Despite Awolowo’s greatness and exploits on the political scene, Olukoya said, the sage denied Christ even against the prodding of great Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola, who allegedly once visited his house.
Some writers have brought out the spatial ill-logic of that Babalola reference so it won’t detain me here. It however occurred to me that Olukoya, as said earlier, must have been operating under that general and global belief of politicians being evil and their Nigerian variants, archetype of the Devil on the Cross, totally submerged in evil. It was that global tar-brush that the Pentecostal overlord apparently applied on Immortal Awo. This narrative won’t wash with Awolowo.
In the history of Nigerian politics, not many of the political elite approximate Christlike attributes as Awolowo did. If the refrain in Christendom is for worshippers to fervently yearn to be like Christ, in character and humility, virtually all politicians since Awolowo’s earthly departure, pray to be like him in forthrightness and devotion to humanity. Awolowo made life and living worthwhile for the people of Western region, through his developmental strides.
Methinks Olukoya and his Pentecostal overlords have over the years sunk into the arbitrariness of Born Again-ism as a classification, mis-perceiving it as literal. Born Again, in my reading, isn’t only, or isn’t strictly, a mouth confession to be like Christ. “Born Again” is found in the philosophy of humanism which Awolowo epitomized. Humanism isn’t all about the metaphysics of religion or the physical service to God since no one can see Him. To be born again is to put humanity first in any earthly engagement. That was Awo’s creed and it supersedes any metaphysics of religion or in Born Again-ism which Pentecostal pastors have deployed for ages to mesmerize their congregants, preparatory to erecting drain pipes into their hearts which then mint cash into their pockets.
It was that same literal interpretation that Christ disdained in Mathew 25: 35 where he taught that whoever clothed the naked, fed the hungry and quenched the thirst of his fellow man had literally entered His kingdom. Awolowo, in serving humanity, served God affectionately.
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