Ogbuagu Anikwe Viewpoints

We Can Save Nigeria without #RevolutionNow

There are many ways that an individual can bravely confront the monsters working against our common interests. The beauty of it is that, in prosecuting each individual #RevolutionNow project, we do not have to advertise it on the streets or on TV, and neither do we run the risk of a run-in with authority attack dogs.

Ogbuagu Anikwe

In this time of the year, hope and optimism wells up in many hearts. We may have endured discomforts or reversals in 2019 but this will not stop us from being hopeful and optimistic about a new year. We therefore remain optimistic that 2020 will bring us luck, whether this optimism becomes real or turns out to be just another illusory bubble.

There are reasons for this optimism though.

For the first time in decades, Federal and some State budgets will be implemented from January 1, a significant departure from the past. We can picture contractors and vendors smiling and rubbing their palms in anticipation of positive cashflow in January.

Again, recall that Ahmed Lawan, the affable leader of the National Assembly, is guiding his colleagues to approve a proposal to inject over N3trillion Naira foreign loan into the economy. When approved and accessed, massive infrastructural works will follow, and a chunk of cash will trickle down to the poorest of the poor who lug cement and concrete mixes at construction sites.

Also, if we use the symbolic end-of-year Dasuki-Sowore release from detention by the authorities to anchor hope, we could say that we have arrived at a new year that promises more obedience to court orders and greater respect for individual rights and freedoms.

The problem, however, is that none of us, as individuals, will be able to translate these hopes to reality, considering that the buck stops on the tables of executives and legislators elected into positions in 2019.

Are we not totally powerless then? My answer is, not exactly.

Every one of us manages a small or big circle of influence, a spatial construct that may be bounded in the physical, the virtual, and the spiritual. In our circles of influence, we all – individually and collectively – can do better and be more effective than Mr. Omoyele Sowore, the #RevolutionNow convener, in any effort we launch to save our country through a personal resolution. There are many ways that an individual can bravely confront the monsters working against our common interests. The beauty of it is that, in prosecuting each individual #RevolutionNow project, we do not have to advertise it on the streets and on TV, and we do not run the risk of a run-in with authority attack dogs.

For any of us willing to launch a personal revolution, it begins with refusing to be seduced by the fantastic tales that will soon be woven around loans, budgets, and human rights in government New Year messages across the land. This is easy to accomplish if we remember that, despite years of lofty political rhetoric, we have entered a new decade with prior socioeconomic challenges that we have been forced to live with over the years.

The list of challenges is long but I leave us with three that I have arbitrarily chosen.

Our children will continue to be blackmailed by lecturers through sex demands, mandatory purchase of poorly produced handouts, and outright cash payments – all for marks. We often focus on the psychological impact of this blackmail but there’s a greater harm done to society when universities inject into the workforce brilliant graduates with poor results and a posse of morally depraved and academically challenged youth brandishing “better” certificates.

We have gradually accepted chronic unemployment as a legacy for our youth – without properly situating it against the backdrop of collateral damages the world suffers today through impersonation and wire fraud (aka 419), intellectual theft, economic migration and new slavery, highway banditry, and kidnapping. These are symptoms of a local economy that forces deprived youth to fight for survival on the wrong side of the law.

For workers, our labour unions enter the new year flexing muscles over implementation of a new law that gives workers a right to basic pay of a miserable 34 cents per hour. Labour may succeed in the battle but this low wage, coupled with poor conditions of service, continues to fuel the corruption of need in the system. Low income workers will pilfer what they can from their offices, directly or subtly solicit bribes, and sell secrets for quick cash. Senior employees will actively collaborate with political bosses to devalue contracts and will help them draft bills that challenge individual rights and liberties.

In the face of all of this, are we truly not powerless?

I’ll still say no, for the simple reason that if we were to interrogate each of the challenges, it will become obvious that all of us as individual victims – students, parents, guardians, and workers – are better placed to carry out our peculiar brands of #RevolutionNow that will not only ameliorate but also quicken the removal of all of this man-made hurdles mounted on our development tracks by monsters working against our collective interests.

Next: How to Save Nigeria without a revolution

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Ogbuagu is a prose stylist and a cross-cutting media manager with hands-on experiences in print, online and broadcast media management in Nigeria. He interrogates sociopolitical issues and communicates solutions with his trademark simplicity and disarming depth.