The Limitations of “A Luta” in Nigeria

The Limitations of “A Luta” in Nigeria

Who doesn’t know what “a luta” means? Even from secondary school days, we always heard that university students were doing “a luta”, which was another word for protest or riot. When we got to our university days, we became accustomed to the mantra, “A luta continua; victoria é certa” (“the struggle continues; victory is certain”) and used it often. This expression was used whenever we faced challenges that have to do with your academics, finance or any other thing.

However, this expression is commonly associated with struggles that have to do with protests. It is associated with making demands, not from oneself, but from others. It is associated with calls for war. Yes, today, “a luta” is synonymous with “war”. This is why it has a lot of limitations.

Without wasting much time, I will table out the reasons “a luta” doesn’t work; why it is not the best option; why dialogue, negotiation and lobbying should be the options considered if people want to table out their grievances and make their demands heard.

a. Trigger
What triggers “a luta” is usually the genesis of its failure. Usually, its trigger starts as complaints concerning an unfavourable condition or unwanted concepts. These complaints gather momentum and graduate into mild suggestions for actions. The suggestions gradually become agitation, but it will only exist within the complaining group. At this stage, the tempo is already building up and if anything that is connected to the unfavourable condition happens, the group will be pushed into the street. The problem here is that the driving force for the protest is anger and not reason. This makes it difficult for the protesters to be logical with their demands and the method of demanding for them. Worst here is that their judgement is so clouded with negative emotions that they do not accept advices that go contrary to their “reasoning” at that point in time. This is why “a luta” usually gets violent and unfruitful.

b. Leadership
It will not become an “a luta” if there is an organised leadership. In “a luta” the protesters are leaderless. Because of how the struggle started, every aggrieved person is a leader. In some cases, members of the protesters that are more famous assume leadership because they have many followers. However, in most cases, these “leaders” have different agenda to push. This will lead to the protesters being sectioned into groups with varying agenda, depending on which “leader” they listen to. At this juncture, there is already a division in the group with different voices and no voice. With time, every protester will have his or her agenda, some of which are completely unrelated to the theme of the protest. This is also why many “a luta” do not achieve their goals because they pursue several confusing items at the same time.

c. Violence-Prone
Of course every “a luta” is triggered by anger. At the initial stage, the anger is not destructive. It only acts as a drive, the energy that pushes the group to move on with the protest. If this anger dissipates, the protest will die naturally. But if the anger is fanned by both internal and external forces, the protest can last as long as ever. The longer a protest lasts, the more agitated the protesters become. They begin to believe that they were not heard and so find ways to make the authority hear them by force. This is when they become more daring and start pushing the authority to the breaking point. And this is when the miscreants amongst them start testing waters. The problem here is that because the tempo is high, there is every possibility that the protesters will join the miscreants in vandalising, looting, lynching, maiming and destroying. If they don’t join the miscreants, they will be pushed into violence when the law enforcers begin to respond to the actions of the miscreants. The result of this is total chaos. This is where people start getting killed and arrested. By the end of the day, their demands may likely not be considered by the right authority.

There is no arguing the fact that protest makes the authority listen and act towards the demands of the protesters. Nobody is saying that. But most times it is not the best option. Of course it might give the aggrieved a sense of fulfilment but it will be short-lived. I have come to learn that the best things are not achieved through the use of force. Dialogue, negotiation and lobbying are there for a reason. Let the aggrieved choose them; they don’t show weakness or suggest corruption.

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