The first time I read Alexander Madiebo’s memoir ‘The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War’, I was a sophomore steeped in the radical doctrines of my Government teacher. After reading the book, I was emotionally wounded by the callousness of the Nigerian civil war which now carries with it, portentous reminiscences of a ruptured, tragic past. It grieved my heart that state power could easily surrender its humaneness and degenerate to such sadistic, horrifying levels to bludgeon a people to defeat
Often, I had nightmares and my puerile mind was constantly under siege by the events of that internecine. I fell in love with Ojukwu’s radical speeches and for my young mind, he was a hero. When I read the book again as an undergraduate, I acquired new perspectives. It was easy for me to critically interrogate the lies, the propaganda, the truths, half-truths, and outright falsehood leading to the war. When I read the book again during my Ph.D. days, I was convinced about the incongruity of association in Nigeria’s political existence. However, it gave me a new outlook on ‘revolution’.
Today, the word ‘revolution’ bestrides Nigeria’s political register even though many people hardly understand it. In what context is ‘revolution’ fact or fiction? Recently in this column, I explained the meaning of revolution in different contexts as understood across the world.
Presently, Omoyele Sowore is in detention for allegedly carrying out a revolution against the Nigerian state. I had explained that Sowore’s actions did not amount to revolution but only a political protest, the kind that Muhammadu Buhari, Rotimi Amaechi, and Odigie Oyegun carried out against the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2014.
Today, some radicals in the country, concerned about Nigeria’s gradual slide to anarchy, have originated RevolutionNow, a consciousness which seeks to challenge the status quo, identify deteriorating aspects of our socio-economic conditions, and awake Nigerians from a sedating complacency. Unfortunately, the proponents of RevolutionNow have failed to outline their mission, aim, and objectives.
Therefore, RevolutionNow is regrettably understood by many Nigerians as a call to armed struggle and warfare against the state. If this is the kind of revolution preached by the proponents of RevolutionNow, then it is advertised treason and should be condemned without further ado because no government in any part of the world will tolerate armed revolution against the state.
Armed revolution is tantamount to dislodging the democratic structures in a state. When Isaac Adaka Boro attempted armed revolution in 1966 which lasted for twelve days, he was immediately overwhelmed by state power. I, therefore, condemn any form of armed struggle against the Nigerian state, I frown at any sort of uprising, mutiny, coup or armed political revolution.
However, let us stretch our understanding of revolution beyond armed struggle and insurrection, let us also extend the frontiers of our comprehension of the written word, and appreciate the other meanings of revolution. In doing this, we will examine the situations in Nigeria and agree or dispute the aptness of revolution as a radical awakening to various issues that bedevilled our country.
If the proponents of RevolutionNow are worried about the decay in the educational sector, if they are seeking a major radical improvement in the dilapidating conditions of learning and research in Nigeria’s many tertiary institutions, then we can begin to situate revolution in a more immediate context as a fact. Many Nigerian universities, Polytechnics, and Colleges of Education are a crying necropolis which explains why many politicians and the rich send their children abroad, even to places like Ghana and Benin Republic for education. This is indeed shameful. Therefore if RevolutionNow is to call the attention of the government to the decay in Nigeria’s education system, if RevolutionNow is to enforce a policy that no politician should send his children abroad for education, if RevolutionNow is to give the government a mandate to revamp and rehabilitate Nigeria’s education system, then it is appropriate and well-timed.
If the gladiators of RevolutionNow are minded to draw the attention of the world to the disgrace that our health sector has become, if they want Nigerians to say no and reject the calamitous state of hospitals all over Nigeria, if indeed they are aiming to reveal the putrefying nature of all the University Teaching Hospitals in Nigeria, then they have a point but must design an effective approach for their actions.
Given the state of the health care system in Nigeria, one wonders if the government, both at the state level and the national level, spare a thought for the hospitals across the country.
Therefore RevolutionNow must emphasize stopping government officials who make laws to travel abroad and waste taxpayers’ money on medical tourism. If Nigerians are minded to see the fatalism in having empty edifices as hospitals with inadequate beds and equipment, then RevolutionNow becomes plausible.
If those at the forefront of RevolutionNow are concerned about the security situation in Nigeria which accounts for millions of deaths in the last few years, then the consciousness must be viewed in its factual immediacy. It is reprehensible that our high ways have become a safe haven for violence where rogues adorn themselves with Nigeria’s military camouflage and sophisticated weapons.
RevolutionNow must ensure that the government of the day rises to its primary responsibility to protect Nigerians irrespective of their location, ethnicity or other persuasions. It is indeed, condemnable that while IPOB has been declared a terrorist organization and outlawed, while the Shiites have been declared a terrorist organization and outlawed, Fulani herdsmen who have been associated with many gruesome killings and acts of terrorism in Nigeria are yet to be outlawed or declared a terrorist organization. RevolutionNow must address these biases and lopsided realities within Nigeria’s power platforms.
If RevolutionNow is concerned with the brutality of Nigerians in the hands of law enforcement officers, if by RevolutionNow, Nigerians are called to query the non-payment of salaries for many months in some states, if RevolutionNow is to reject the daily criminality perpetuated by Nigerian banks who make secret deductions from millions of bank accounts in the name of COT and other hidden charges, if RevolutionNow is to reject the kinds of services offered Nigerians by service providers and telephony companies, if RevolutionNow is to rethink the invidious entrenchment of revenue sharing formula, if it is to reject the official bias called quota system, if it is to address the ‘above the law’ syndrome in the country and if it is to address the prejudiced fight against corruption in Nigeria, then and only then can it have substance and verve to realign the subsisting malady in the country.
It is revolution understood in the latter category as a fact that is healthy and that has seen many countries achieve progress rather than a call to overthrow the government of the day.
The state apparatus must tolerate dissenting voices and react to the issues they raise instead of oppressing these voices, gradually turning Nigeria into a despotic state. Our sense of morality must consist of real aversion for all forms of injustice and affection for equity irrespective of who is in power.
Dr. Adiele writes from Lagos via