Come August 5, the streets of Nigeria are expected to have different looks. It will be filled with people bearing placards, wailing in a united throng, resisting the dispersing forces, demanding the government to step down, and probably, refusing to go home.
That’s #RevolutionNow, the Hashtag has been making waves on Social Media, spearheaded by the former presidential Aspirant, and Founder of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore. It seems Nigerians have suddenly woken up from their political slumber and want to make a warning statement to the powers that it’s no longer business as usual.
Topics of good governance, positive change in the Nigerian polity have always been a daily discussion in the offices, Bars, homes and Social Media. But it could barely get further than that, the political Lords know this, and Nigerians know why. It is upon this that the Nigerian political culture was developed, and there seems to be a mutual acceptance based on fear and interests, except on few occasions.
On Monday 2nd, 2012, mammoth crowds, under the brolly of Occupy Nigeria, took to the streets in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and the Nigerian High Commission in London, to protest the increment in petrol pump price. It held the cities to a standstill, paralyzed activities, and drew the largest crowd of protesters in the recent history of Nigeria. It could have buried the question of docility if not that it was politically motivated. In the end, the Actors got what they wanted and the crowd, having been used, went home to continue with their suffering from where they left it.
Ever since then, there have been so many protests, divided through religious, ethnic, and personal interests’ lines. When the Indigenious People of Biafra (IPOB), took to the streets of the Southeast demanding secession, the Government responded with brutal force that sent more than 150 members of the protesters to their early grave. Then there were Shiites whose members were massacred at the tone of 400, a whopping number of lives wasted in muzzling contests. The Government did make a bold deterrent statement; it’s “fight the Government at your own risk.”
Although there have been protests here and there, representing one interest or the other, the people have learned to keep the Government’s message in mind: “Don’t be callous enough to threaten the Government, or you pay dearly.” Not that some groups don’t try, they do once in a while. But it doesn’t take them long to realize that the Government’s resolve in quelling protests is stronger than the constitution. Just as it happened on the 22nd of July, when Shiites hit the streets of Abuja, once again, and triggered the free flow of bullets that resulted in the death of about 20 people. Their determination to dare also earned them a place on the proscription list where IPOB has long been seated.
It is upon this political culture that the #RevolutionNow is set to take place, allaying the fears, confronting the dangers, resisting the intimidation, and most of all, determining to see the flow of blood that may not lead to any positive change.
The people as usual have been grossly divided along religious, ethnic, political and personal interests’ paths. And for these reasons many have distanced themselves from the looming Revolution. There are yet others who are not in this category, yet they don’t see revolution as an answer to Nigeria’s big questions: using instances of revolution, especially in Africa as study cases.
The former DG of Bureau of Public Service Reforms (BPSR), Dr. Joe Abah, was vocal about his disagreement with revolution as a solution to Nigeria’s many problems. In his conversation with Human Right Activist and Lawyer, Mr. Segun Awosanya, Dr. Abah opined that revolutions only happen in homogenous societies, often with unifying characteristic. And that’s something Nigeria lacks. There are so many dividing factors that make it impossible for people to speak in voice; and for this reason he believes that revolution is not possible or feasible in Nigeria.
He went further to explain that the resultant consequence of revolutions is usually far worse than the preceding conditions. He said:
“The new order simply replaces the old order and status quo continues as normal. In some cases, the new order is worse than what was there before. Many dictators were former Revolutionaries. Many were worse than what they replaced.”
Using some examples, Dr. Abah explained further while he thinks revolution will do more harm than good. The French revolution which enthroned Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, did not translate to the behavior of the French during colonialism. The French didn’t extend liberty, equality and fraternity to their colonies. Another example that is ample to the subject of revolution took place in Nigeria in 2012, and Dr. Abah noted it. He said:
“Then there was the Arab Spring. Has that revolution made the Arab a more just place? I am not sure. Then there was Occupy Nigeria. I think most of the leaders of that revolution are in government today. We are still paying fuel subsidies, the reason for occupy Nigeria.”
The truth in this analysis of revolution, especially in Africa, has unprecedented evidence to be denied. However, a call for action to effect good governance can only be ignored to the proliferation of rots in governments. Mr. Segun Awosanya, responded to the above analysis with a clearer explanation of the motive behind the scheduled revolution, at least from his own perspective. It’s more like a ‘wakeup call’ than usurpation of power. Knowing well the kind of government the people are dealing with. He said:
“Rise as one’ is not the literal meaning of Revolution. We live in the 21st century and must act like it. There is no point giving a regime thirsty for blood a reason to mow down innocent citizens. There are better approaches that will get the government interested in being responsible.”
As much as this statement tries to minimize the premonition of chaotic 5th of August, other players are talking tough. With their adopted slogan, “the days of rage,” the convener, Omoyele Sowore, and Singer, Eidris Abdulkareem, were on a broadcast video, promising a shutdown of the country. A perceived threat that the government doesn’t want to reckon with. Mr. Sowore also said that he has been informed that the Department of State Security Services (DSS) has put him under surveillance, something he said he expected to happen, even far worse than that. But it is just what it takes to liberate the oppressed from their oppressors. He said:
“We have moved from the surveillance of the people to the sovereignty of the people. All that is needed for revolution is for the oppressed to choose a date they desire for liberty, not subjected to the approval of the oppressor.”
The cause seems to be generating interests from far and wide, even those who have tasted the brutality of the Government because of their activism couldn’t cower to the perceived threat that the revolution may pose. Deji Adeyanju, a Civil Right Activist, and an ardent advocate of good governance, has thrown his full weight on it. Senator Shehu Sani, the former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani Kayode, and many more are joining the Train. The interest is growing and waning, substantial numbers of people are joining the cause while others are choosing to watch from a distance. So far, over 22 cities across the country are mobilizing for the revolution.
Amnesty International has expressed concern over the possibility of the Government cracking down on the revolutionaries, as it would amount to trampling on their fundamental human right. The statement issued through their twitter handle reads:
“#RevolutionNow is a movement of Nigerian youths committed to fighting for freedom and just in exercise of right to freedom of expression and freedom of association.
“Authorities must respect the rights of #RevolutionNow movement to assemble and seek for freedom and just without fear or any intimidation. Nigeria belongs to all of us.”
Two days after Amnesty International issued this statement, a crowd of protesters converged at its office demanding that they leave Nigeria. A video that surfaced online later showed the crowd receiving cash, which means they were rented.
However, the Nigerian Bar. Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch has pledged to provide pro bono services to those who will be protesting in Lagos.
In the early morning hours of today, the Convener of #RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore was whisked away by the DSS, his whereabouts are unknown. This development has cast doubt and faith in the planned protest. It’s evidence that the Government is afraid of what is to come.
But, Will the revolution still go on without Sowore? The campaign for his release has been launched on Social Media with the hashtag #FreeSowore.