RevolutionNow: Inherent implications
The political atmosphere has been inundated with debates over the suitability of the #RevolutionNow protest organised by Omoyele Sowore, with contending voices making cases for their stands.
While some say the protest is completely undemocratic and superfluous, others feel a radical approach is required to confront the potpourri of challenges currently bedeviling the country.
The 2019 presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Sowore, had called for mass protest to demand for a better Nigeria. The protest tagged ‘Day of Rage’ was planned to take place in 21 states including Lagos and the FCT.
However, the demonstration only held in four states of Lagos, Ondo, Osun and Cross River and the FCT, with attempts foiled in Oyo and Edo states by security .
The arrest of the convener of the #RevolutionNow campaign, a day before the scheduled protest, seemed to have doused any impact the protest could muster. The protest witnessed low turnout across the country except for a few daring ones who confronted combat ready security operatives.
While some say the protest failed because Nigerians were satisfied with the performance of the government of the day, others say Sowore’s arrest was a clear signal of what awaits those who dare to challenge the government.
The publisher and politician has since been in custody of the Department of State Security. Already a court has granted the DSS request to detain him for 45 days with a possibility of further extension to enable them conclude investigations on him.
As it is, Sowore stands the risk of having terrorism charges held against him, as the DSS accuses him of inciting a revolution.
Confirming his arrest, the DSS said “He has crossed the line, he has threatened public safety...Nothing will happen, there won’t be any revolution. The government, which has been elected democratically, will be in place.”
The Presidency accused Sowore of attempting to incite the citizens in a revolution against their democratic rights and interest, an attempt it believes failed on arrival.
President Muhamdu Buhari through his spokesman said he was humbled by the show of support by Nigerians not to participate in the plot to remove a democratically elected government.
Sowore’s arrest has since tilted the conversation expected in the aftermath of protest of such magnitude. Nigerians are now debating the rights of the protesters and not the possibility of the protests to achieve its set targets.
Presently, crime rate in Nigeria is at an all-time high, with kidnappers and bandits running rampage in several parts of the country. The farmers/herders’ clashes have since taken a dangerous dimension of communal and reprisal attacks on communities, with security agencies watching helplessly, as they themselves have also become victims of a dysfunctional society.
The Nigerian Army and the Police Force are currently locked in a superiority battle over the wrongful killing of three officers of the Nigeria Police.
Corruption and corrupt practices has since taken root in our national lives, with politicians and masses devising dubious means to satisfy personal needs at the expense of others. Politicians no longer see public offices as a call to service, but a means to meet their insatiable quest for wealth even at the expense of critical sectors of the economy.
The Nigeria’s health sectors, education, have all been affected by this malady that has left every sector in desperate need of intervention.
Sowore seem to appreciate the enormity of these challenges thus, the call for a protest to demand better governance for the people. His approach to this demand may however be faulty, as many questioned his intent and method. Many interpreted his call for a revolution as an attempt to seize power through a revolt haven failed in his presidential ambition at the ballot only a few months back.
Some of his utterances in the build up to the protest were provocative enough for any government to take action against.
This however is no justification for his arrest or continued detention. While we do not condone acts of rebellion of any kind, the police’s claim of treason is preposterous. The police should base their arrest on weightier allegations and credible intelligence gathered and not on a public utterance.
Beyond Sowore’s boasts of activism, where is the evidence of a coordinated plan to cause carnage? Where are his guns or those of his followers?
The government should know from recent revolutions witnessed in Africa, that such uprising never started with an activist announcing a revolt? From the Tunisian revolution of 2010-2011 to the Egyptian revolution and the most recent Sudanese revolution of 2018-19, all started impromptu in response to injustice meted on an individual
The Tunisian revolt began with street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation on December 17, 2010, in response to the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides.
This action birthed protests against high unemployment, food inflation, corruption, poor living conditions and lack of political freedom, and eventually culminating in the ousting of the longtime president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after 24 years in office.
Similarly, the Sudanese revolution of 2018-19 began in the northern town of Atbara over the removal of a wheat subsidy, prompting the price of bread to triple overnight. The protests expanded to demands for urgent economic reforms and an end to Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year presidential reign, which was eventually realized in April 2019.
In none of these cases did an individual just wake up to announce a revolution, no chance the case would have been different in Nigeria.
Even if allowed to go on, Sowore’s protests may not have birthed a revolution in Nigeria but would have set the tone for public discourse on pressing issues bedeviling the country. Government must therefore learn to listen to contending voices as fundamental points could be made from such views.
While street protests in themselves are important, we believe that what Nigeria really need is the revolution of values. Our problems have gone beyond bad leadership, but also followers that have placed self over the country.
Until make right our value system, even a revolution in the scale of the Arab spring cannot save us. We may just succeed in ousting our leaders without necessarily dropping our problems.
© 2015 The Abuja Inquirer | Newspaper. Designed by G E Springfield