The best way to illustrate the point is to consider contemporary examples of individuals who have been revolutionary in their thinking, proactive in their actions, and effective in launching projects and actions that seized the public imagination in 2019.

This is not an effort to knock Omoyele Sowore’s #RevolutionNow Project. On the contrary, I praise Sowore for helping Nigerians to make an important point, especially at a time when it appears that we have been cowed into irresponsible silence by political forces, using coercive instruments of state and mercenary thought police to harass and intimidate journalists and public commentators. #RevolutionNow is therefore, and in my view, an important undertaking which could only have been attempted by someone with a history of honest, selfless crusading, the type that Sowore was known for in his past life as a student activist.

My worry is that I see no hope of his ever succeeding with this revolution. For one thing, the political calculations of the 2023 presidency denied him of potential sponsors. For another, the mainstream media and civil society organisations have been substantially weakened through a number of factors outside the purvey of this conversation. However, the major reason why Sowore’s #RevolutionNow failed hopelessly is what I would like to refer to as the closing of the Nigerian freedom space by treasury hunters.

The Nigerian system appears, for the first time in our history, to have been captured, lock stock and barrel, by actors salivating at the strong rooms of our national treasuries, in all tiers of government. Any person of conscience who has worked in any of the tiers in the past 20 years would have noted near-desperate maneuvers to devour annual budgets. Billions are budgeted and disbursed each year to ensure that security forces also partake in the feasting – through humongous defence budgets at federal level and heavy security votes at state and local government tiers of government. Politicians in public offices (elected or appointed) seal the deal by building local political structures – an euphemism for conscription of drug-crazed youth gangs that enforce the will of the godfathers during election cycles and are left to fend for themselves when the oaths of office are sworn and the godfathers are comfortably ensconced in their executive and legislative cocoons.

This is why, in this miasma, I consider the likes of Sowore as mere irritants come to disturb the already established sociopolitical order. The system deals with irritants; when not captured and kept away by the security forces, members of youth gangs would be directed to complete their humiliation. Individuals and small groups are therefore hopelessly outnumbered in any structured effort to launch a revolution to save Nigeria – which leaves us with only two ways to maneuver. One approach is to have the masses spontaneously rise up in revulsion and anger to violently take back their country whenever they find that political rascals are in power. The other is for individuals to quietly strike at the underbelly of the system, doing things that will strengthen resistance to the evils the system perpetuates, and prompting us to consider alternate value systems that help society overcome efforts to turn it away from what is good.

I personally abhor the first approach. In all my years as a worker, I found it hard to join trade union activities. The first time I formally registered as a member of NUJ, for instance, it was because of the opportunity to travel to Maiduguri to attend a biennial convention. My mind was not on a convention but on the opportunity to visit a cousin and to explore story leads that I could pursue later. I promptly walked away from meetings or other activities when we returned from the trip, only maintaining nominal membership through my checkoff dues.

You may call me a coward, but I have always believed that society can also be positively affected by force of the personal example as much as if not more than can be done through mass action. While conceding that radical changes often do require extraordinary measures to accomplish, I have equally been fascinated by how the force of personal non-violent actions achieved extraordinary results. My heroes are Mahatma Ghandi in India and Martin Luther King Jr. in the USA. In Nigeria, they include Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Malam Aminu Kano. Together, these represent for me great examples of how individuals can use their God-given gifts to save their world.

The best way to illustrate the point is to consider contemporary examples of individuals who have been revolutionary in their thinking, proactive in their actions, and effective in launching projects and actions that seized the public imagination in 2019.

Next: Profile of #RevolutionNow Champions, 2019

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One reply on “How to save Nigeria without #RevolutionNow”

  1. I do share the philosophy of revolution without violence. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and Malam​ Aminu Kano are great revolutionarists in their grand styles inwithout violence yet they completed their projects successfully. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe achieved Independence for Nigeria and Malam Aminu Kano achieved the emancipation​ of his people with his PRP.
    Sowore should understand these great men achieved their revolutionary projects without double standard. Sowore should understand that he who rides on the tiger”s back will surely end in belly of the tiger. But appreciate America”s intervention.

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