Is the Expected Revolution in Nigeria Possible?
Many talking points in Nigeria and diaspora focus ever more on the undeniable necessity for a ‘proper revolution’ to happen. Revolution seems to be necessary to with decisiveness sort out the poly-faceted corruption and misgovernance entrenched in it. Such is withering away the country beyond recognition. Otherwise, talk of revolution is good for expressing various dimensions of despair. Notwithstanding, they do not represent the realities of revolution in the everyday chatter. The truth of it appears to be tacit and hiding in several brains. A thoroughgoing political revolution has a high cost that involves mass coordination, mass murder, mass destruction and mass deception [propaganda]; are Nigerians ready for that? How possible is it?
Lest we forget, younger people take revolution in any sphere of activity as a workable challenge. Accordingly, young people change the world every day. Any country with a singular or successive leadership that has allowed their nation to decay beyond the realm of hope and remedy. Even with radical reform deserves the revolution it gets. Long, unwitting and insensitive political neglect prepares the way for revolutions.
The big questions concerning Nigeria and revolution are (a) Who is going to lead the revolution? (b) What is the purpose of the revolution? (c) How will people carry out the revolution? (d) When is the time ripe for revolution? (e) Will it be free of ulterior motives?
Coup d’état are not revolutions, since they replaced the status quo. Nigeria has a rich political history of stratocracy and government turnovers. It indicates that the only region that can attempt to produce a unifying revolutionary leader. One the federation will as a collective put their trust in and rally around en masse is the North. But surprises from other regions are possible. Any coup d’état led by a non-core Northerner has never succeeded in Nigeria and perhaps never will. The South East, South West and South-South regions may likely support a unifying Northern revolutionary leader. In contrast, the Northern masses may not support a revolution led by a person from these other regions.
Consequently, religion [Islam] and culture are implicated in this political attitude of the North to whom its people support. Ironically, the North is the least likely region to produce a mainstream revolutionary leader because of the same religion and culture. Religion and ethnicity are thus stumbling blocks to the possibility of a thoroughgoing revolution in Nigeria. It appears the more homogenous society is, the more realistic the chance of a successful political revolution occurring.
Is successful secession more likely than a successful revolution?
The need for Nigeria’s expected revolution does not need much restating. But revolutionary leaders must be shrewd and thorough enough to decimate the resistance of the system they seek to change. According to George Ayittey, most African revolutionaries play unwittingly into the hands of despots or are mere power/money seekers. Too many bold leaders are in love with the idea of revolution. But many can gauge its requirements, discipline, costs and unseen realities that come with it? Is a people’s revolution possible? Will these revolutionaries grant the people their inalienable freedoms? In political, economical and social senses, the nation called Nigeria is thoroughly rotten. Freedom is the stuff of abstraction and imagination and possibility. The institutions of the nation that are supposed to uphold it and cause it to flourish. Alas, the institutions have become necrotic and the moral cost of flouting them all over is near zero.
Hence, a revolution will serve Nigeria well only if it can establish vibrant, enforceable institutions in all spheres of activities in society. Yet, the moral cost of flouting them is high to extreme. Tragically, a nation whose citizens embrace the ever-falling standards of mediocrity by which they rule it in the name of adaptability. And the denial of learned helpless of the masses cannot be easy to galvanise into revolution.
The right candidates can successfully exact revolutions in several ways. However, the adopted way has to be thought out with much clarity and realism, as well as executed with high precision and elastic resilience. Mistakes, even little ones, can be costly in the waging of a revolution.
Moreover, if we return to a stratocracy, we could see how the improvisational and selective method of execution of the 1966 military coup led by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu. Related to ethnic preferences, not only resulted in failure but became the raison d’être for a three-year bloody civil war. Furthermore, it has created near-irreversible divisions in the federation that exist to this day. If any future revolution that occurs in Nigeria fails, it is likely to happen because of ethnic preferences.
There is no space for ‘African time’ in matters of serious revolution. The keen necessity of timing in a revolution probably exceeds the mental and physical capacities of man. Groups can prepare in untiring ways for revolutions. Nevertheless, no one will ever know for sure the exact moment it will happen, if it at all. Revolutions are Black Swan events, it cannot predict them in advance. Most modern revolutions have happened only after a minor flashpoint rides close on a major signal that the government can no longer exercise its powers. Be Prepared is the best timing strategy for a revolution; juggling patience and suddenness.
Political revolutions that succeed and work as intended are those led by sterling leaders, free of ulterior motives. To find leaders to lead a successful revolution in Nigeria who are neither venal nor power-hungry will be quite a feat. Most men and women in Nigeria today whose effective protest, challenge or lead anti-government campaigns are bruising for money and power. When they get it from the government, they join the status quo, then become silent and devout. Money seems to buy revolutionaries off in the land. Still, another problem to behold.
The good thing is there are those, we may suppose, who have the ability and character to lead a successful political revolution. Individuals devoid of ulterior motives exist and they do not need fame or recognition before the revolution itself. In a collective sense, the leaders of revolutions harbour intentions that will unite peoples of the land and not marginalise any certain group. Well, except counter-revolutionaries who want their overturned power back.
Notwithstanding, a successful revolution is one in which all people and all regions and ethnicities are equally free and empowered in every sense. If a thoroughgoing revolution happens in Nigeria in the future, it may transform the face of the history of the phenomenon.
In fact, exacting revolution is a surmountable problem. The big question is who is willing to try? The younger the population the better the chance. They are more likely to put religion and ethnicity aside and creating their reality that supersedes that of their parents.