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Youth Power for a Peaceful Revolution

Cliff I. Edogun, PhD, North America Director, NIGERIA RALLY MOVEMENT

<www.nigeriarally.org> cliffedo@nigeriarally.org


Somehow, with the notable exception of sore losers like the unproductive and intellectually lazy Speaker of the Nigerian National Assembly, many skeptic Nigerians are now suddenly falling in line to accept that a democratic revolution is inevitable in Nigeria after all. From the Egyptian and Tunisian examples, many are now witnesses to the peaceful versions of revolutions that have taken the world by storm and hailed across the globe.

 It is ludicrously understandable that many Nigerians would prefer to preserve their current sub-prime life of deprivation, irrelevance and marginalization than strive to lose any pint of blood in order to be forever free. That is the choice older Nigerians may prefer to make or may have made. But for the Nigerian youth, whose dreams of freedom, equal opportunity and personal life achievements are dwindling by the clock, it will amount to sheepish suicide to even contemplate such a choice in this current historic moment. In the twinkle of an eye, consistent, relentless and principled peaceful protests and demonstrations, led by jobless and hopeless young people in these countries, are effectively bringing down murderous dictators along with their inept ruling political classes. Now, why should it not be Nigeria’s turn? Are the oppressed conditions of the Tunisian and Egyptian people any different from those in Nigeria? Haven’t Nigeria’s technological and industrial modernization been virtually halted and stymied in the past twelve years by the immoral profligacy of the federal, state and local government political oligarchy, most of which is poised again to return to power through an election that will be mysteriously rigged? Haven’t you suffered enough from induced regional, tribal and religious divisions that are perpetrated by political power mongers who make it virtually unattractive for you to move upward in your choice professions? Haven’t these intellectually crippled politicians told you point blank how your skills and educational background are sorely inferior to your international counterparts? Be you from the east, west, north or south, don’t you feel the perennial pain of having to struggle to find employment in your area of educational expertise? Are you not already exhausted and provoked enough that a country so naturally resourceful, especially in natural gas and abundant sun shine, cannot provide a mere round-the-clock power and electricity to drive the most basic cottage industries to employ and engage Nigeria’s productive forces? Haven’t you wept enough over how the political ruling class has deliberately decimated the nation’s educational system in order to set up their own expensive private institutions for their sons and daughters? Does it bother you to death that the highly acclaimed Nigerian universities of the past have now been converted into brothels and cult worship? Do you envisage your children living better lives than you did under the current scheme of things?  Don’t you have sleepless nights when you observe how law and order are first broken by a reckless and poorly trained police force who set up illegal police road blocks everywhere to harass, intimidate and infringe upon your liberties? With all the scholarly standards you have earned, is this your idea of a civilized society? Are you comfortable with the growing impunity of embezzlement that is flagrantly displayed by public officials who expend their stolen funds on prime real estate at home and abroad? How could you, for any imaginable human reason, tolerate the likes of Bode George, a former military officer, who sought to teach the young how to glorify sin against humanity? He is part of the political ruling class who was sent to prison for stealing public money and then turned his release from prison into a sinner’s carnival. Shouldn’t that be the last straw?

These were probably the same questions that the young in Egypt and Tunisia were asking themselves until hell broke lose. So far, from your candid observation of the on-going campaigns for president, have you recorded any quality and substance in their policy options? Do you sincerely believe that any of these presidential candidates has the vision, the character, the intellectual tenacity and the political will to bring about the fundamental change that is closest to your heart? Haven’t you noticed that the present contenders still recite those treacherous slogans of the past that are better reserved for slavish consumption?

The campaign crowds have remained essentially the same uncritical and happy-in-pain entertainment deludables, mostly stark illiterates who have no defensible stakes about whether Nigeria booms or busts. Supporting these emotional diehards are the gangster party hoodlums who rouse the crowd and act more like jungle mercenaries. Then, there are the party’s favorite lose cannons who adorn the high chairs that also include those who have already staked out their cabinet positions in the coming government. The party platforms contain the same intellectually lazy buzzwords that are generally devoid of detailed explanations about how the more than half a century economic, social and technical problems will be solved. Their turenchi reveals no discernable job creation strategies and no agenda for confronting the growing terror of killings, bombings, kidnappings, and police illiteracy.  In fact, these campaigns continue to offer the starkest indications yet about the inevitability of a popular insurrection against a severely incapacitated status quo.

This clarion call is primarily to alert and remind you that, regardless of who wins the presidency in the coming elections, nothing will change as long as politics is conducted under the current colonial induced political system. So, my dear young people, the crisis of politics in Nigeria is systemic, pure and simple. The Nigerian political system is like a vehicle that leaks oil. It can only go so far and no sane owner would dare embark on any long distance travel with such a vehicle. And unless that vehicle is overhauled, it can never travel far enough to see new places. So is the operating Nigerian political system. Sure, many will still quarrel with any such continued cause-effect inference to colonialism. That may sound plausible but facts and data still show that Nigeria’s power structure that the British divulged exclusively to the three major tribes of the north, east, and  west remains unbroken in spite of the token exercise of state and local government creation. None of what we claim today as democracy reflects any aspect of a Nigerian political culture either ideologically or philosophically. The British handed us a political framework of the master-servant variety by nurturing and empowering a political master class that, to this day, has failed to enter into a meaningful and productive social contract with the Nigerian people. The political perks and privileges that British colonialism handed down to selected representatives of the three major tribes of Hausa-Fulani, Ibo and Yoruba had so intoxicated this privileged few that the intellectual rigor required to fashion a republican constitution that would have defined who we are as a people was never summoned. Every generation of this privileged few received the succession baton from a previous generation and we are now witnessing the logistics of how the current retiring generation is handing over to their sons, daughters, nephews and wives. Thus, within the framework of this neo-colonial network, the Nigerian people are considered an alien force that will dismember this entrenched corporate greed and profits if allowed to gain entry into their filthy world of inhumanity. But the job now at hand for you young people is not to partake in their filth but to clean out the filth, dismantle their secretive world and establish a new order. Anything less than this agenda to dismantle and renew will only endanger your species further and render you incognito in a country that God has equally shared among you and these colonial-invented masters.

Before I close, please permit me to share some primary issues of renewal that could feature in your agenda for liberation from the current oppressive Nigerian ruling classes, regardless of party. It is encouraging to read about the many social networks blanketing the entire young world in Nigeria. However, it is not the number that matters, it is the unity of purpose, guidance, principles and leadership that will make the difference in any peaceful mass insurrection to bring down a corrupt and tone-deaf political system.      

The first item on the agenda must be to draw up a new republican constitution for which selected delegates from all of Nigeria’s local government districts should be equally represented. This equality of representation is to recognize Nigeria’s many nations that are not limited to Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo nationalities alone. Bringing together all of Nigeria’s nationalities to write a new constitution will formalize who we are as a people. It will also promote a democratic rationale for negotiating and compromising on matters that will unite all, if that is the goal.

A constitution normally enumerates power relationships between the various levels of government and for a federal system which Nigeria represents, the appropriate power relations between the federal government and the states must be spelt out without any ambiguity. For instance, what specific powers should be reserved solely to the federal government? Which powers are reserved for the states? What are the limits to the president’s powers? What balances of powers must exist between the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government? What national and international policy issues must come under the powers of the executive and the legislative braches of government? What powers should be concurrent between these two branches of government?  How and what logistics must be in place for conducting all elections? Who qualifies to be elected president, governor, parliamentarian, council member, etc.? What national and international appointments can be made under the president’s powers?  What liberties and freedoms should all Nigerians enjoy as citizens? How must the state be separated from religion? What are the various judicial jurisdictions and how should appeals navigate such jurisdictions? Should the Supreme Court entertain political questions or should it be limited primarily to constitutional matters of rights, liberties and citizenship? Should tribunals be designated primarily to hear election cases? How would the various established federal or state courts approach criminal trials and judgments?  While these do not exhaust the entire spectrum of any constitutional deliberation, it however informs how gravely limited the 1999 Nigerian constitution has been. This constitution is similar to other previous constitutions that were hastily put together to satisfy the needs of the powers that be. A people’s constitution that is proposed here must have to be approved first by the deliberating delegates and then ratified through a national referendum to be arranged for that purpose. This will then be followed by organized general elections that will be governed by the new constitution. Thus, by the time the elections are held, the country would have been familiar with the formula for such elections.

In the final analysis, any peaceful insurrection to overthrow the current corrupt political class is meant to establish and advance democratic practices that must fit and meet the exigencies of the 21st century and beyond. The status quo in Nigeria is an abominable contradiction to any such exigency. What is democratic in a country with more than 10,000 un-elected kings, monarchs, obas, emirs, obis, ezes, or chiefs who scramble and compete with elected representatives for power, influence and scarce resources while the rest of the Nigerian people remain doomed under the tutelage of a neo-feudal social order? In which other democratic political system in the civilized  world would you find such a coterie of improbable power centers with no institutional regulations or boundaries as in Nigeria? Every town, city or village has this individual or family hanging on to some unproven claims to inherited power, influence and authority that makes him the king, oba, monarch, emir, obi, eze or chief. They occupy huge manors across the land with multiple wives, children, servants and a multitude of hangers-on, all at the expense of public funds for some classified categories. They will tell you these free government-fed and state-paid rich nobles with no discernible job obligations are custodians of our culture and our fathers, plus the rest of the blah-blah! I am sure you know who your real father is and that you, as an individual, are the true embodiment of the culture that is in you. Thus, for years, these myriad centers of power have rendered the Nigerian political experiment with democracy an abysmal failure since the pitiable Nigerian citizen is often compelled to dutifully divide his/her loyalty between numerous self-centered masters. In so doing, his/her demands for a better life ring out in a clatter of voices that are incoherent and misdirected. This time around, your choice will determine if this is the form of democracy you wish to take with you into the competitive 21st century world and beyond.

Finally, a word of caution: Nigerian youths have often fallen prey to the status quo for a few pieces of silver. Your conscience is sold for cheap but your condition remains the same or worse. That tactic should already be in full force now that you are organizing to empower your demographic that is more than 70 percent of the population. Now, that is quite some power base that has been left slumbering for too long. Many of you also may have pitched their tents with one of these presidential candidates for whatever reason. These candidates may be honorable men and women indeed and some may actually possess attractive imagery while others will certainly fill your ears with unattainable promises. Yet, every one of these candidates is a veritable product of the praxis of the discredited and incapacitated political system we have just described and none among them will be capable of betraying the very hands that feed them. None will summon the political will or the revolutionary zeal required now to overhaul the current long-running broken system. That challenge is now your calling.

 The gravity of the failed state in Nigeria was tearfully expressed by one Said Abdou Dirisu Minimu Aliu, a 26-year old Nigerian immigrant furniture builder, who was fleeing the Libyan revolutionary upheaval and got stranded at the Tunisian border. He complained bitterly about how he was treated like a slave while living in Libya even though he was a practicing Muslim. He remained in Libya only because he made a good living doing what he does best. Speaking to a United Nations aid worker at the Tunisian border, Dirisu Aliu put it this way: “There is something I want you to know; I’d have preferred to die in the war zone in Libya than to go back to Nigeria.”  For Allah’s sake, please remember that such young dreamers like the Alius and the Minimus all around the world come from within your ranks and the least you can do for them now is to demand, obtain and establish a new political order that would attract the likes of the Alius and the Minimus back into your fold.

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Posted by on Mar 24 2011. Filed under Articles, Cliff I. Edogun, PhD, Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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