Nigeria as a nation is faced with numerous challenges ranging from bad leadership, extreme corruption, mismanagement of resources, insecurity, unemployment, extreme poverty, illiteracy, infrastructural decay, tribalism, and nepotism. These challenges seem to have eluded successive governments since independence as they appear to be getting worse by the day.
From the pre-colonial era to date, the Nigerian state has witnessed various protests and mass action against its policies and programs. Many of these protests achieved desired results as they compelled the government to change some of its policies.
In November of 1929, thousands of Igbo women congregated at the Native Administration centers in Calabar and Owerri as well as smaller towns to protest both the warrant chiefs and the taxes on the market women in Colonial Nigeria.
The protest tagged the ‘Aba Women’s Riot of 1929’ compelled the colonial authorities to drop their plans to impose a tax on the market women and to curb the power of the warrant chiefs.
After June 12, 1993 presidential election annulment, Nigerians took to the streets in protest against the decision of the Ibrahim Babangida regime. The revolt though with many casualties compelled the military government to step aside and played a significant role in the return of Democracy in 1999.
Most recently, on the 2 January 2012, Protests took place across Nigeria’s major cities in response to the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government of President Goodluck Jonathan. The protests characterized by civil disobedience, civil resistance, strike actions, demonstrations, and online activism compelled the government to rescind its decision.
Protests from Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Bring Back Our Girls Movement, Civil Society Groups have influenced the decision of the government in one way or the other.
One thing is clear from these protests. The conveners from their tone do not seek a violent revolution but the promotion of their interests.
The RevolutionNow movement being championed by Publisher of Sahara Reporters and presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore is totally different from the constitutionally guaranteed right to peaceful protests and assembly.
Information available from the Nigerian Police indicates that Sowore intends to use the protest to overthrow a democratically elected government. He was subsequently arrested by operatives of the Department of States Services (DSS) over treasonable felony.
Due to the complex nature of Nigeria and the fragile peace the country currently enjoys, a forceful regime change as advocated by Sowore will only plunge Africa’s largest democracy into Anarchy and military dictatorship. Revolutions in countries like Sudan, Libya, and Egypt only brought sorrow, tears, and blood.
After the revolution, what next? Will Sowore become the new president?, will there be a call for fresh polls?, will state governors be toppled?, will the economy rebound?, will poverty reduce?, will Boko Haram end?….
I strongly feel that the solution to Nigeria’s problems is systemic and not a forceful change of government or revolution. Poverty, Insecurity, unemployment, lack of basic infrastructure etc have been with us as a nation despite different forms of government over time.
We must as a matter of urgency begin to build institutions rather than personalities. Citizens must begin to elect their leaders based on merit and not ethnic, religious or parochial interest. The Nigerian state must embrace true federalism, reduce the cost of governance, provide basic infrastructure and strive towards economic diversification.
The people must demonstrate ‘Revolution of the Mind’ by shunning corruption, ethnicity, religious bigotry in any form and contribute their quota towards nation-building.