By Omole Ibukun
Why does Nigerian need a revolution?
Upon my decision to write this, my first impulse was to go and get all of the poverty and terrorism statistics of the world and show the reader that Nigeria is one of the worst countries of the world by many indices. It then dawned on me that most of these gory statistics were not only common knowledge already but also too much to fill an article. And if I did struggle to fit them into an article, I would have to update the article tomorrow because by then, Nigeria would have added a new failure to her medals. There you have it, FAILURE is the reason that makes Revolution necessary. In Nigeria’s case, it is not just the failure of an administration but the failure of all of the institutions of the state, from the politicians to the police, and to the judges.
I’m going to pick Nigeria’s institutions one by one.
The justice system earlier mentioned above has failed so much that young Nigerians fear the Nigerian police more than they fear thieves, and they have every reason to. The policemen survive on bribes collected on the highways, torturing youths in exchange for money, and shooting randomly at innocent people to gain some sadistic respect. The police in Nigeria are Armed and they are Robbers – you can put that together. The most recent investigations into the Nigerian prison system did not only expose corruption, but also extreme prison congestion. The Department of State Security (DSS) goes after any opposition force to the regime with their full force, to the point that last year, they invaded the court premises to forcefully grab an activist already freed by the court. This is asides the fact that the DSS directly serve politicians, monarchs and their children to deal with whoever they assume has insulted these members of the ruling class. Verdicts and counter-verdicts can presently be bought from judges by different politicians in their intra-class wars. In Nigeria, police mock “I-Know-My-Right” like the statement is criminal. We can go on and on and on.
The Nigerian Law School frowns on any form of activism to the point that a criticism of the education institution online can get you kicked out. The future defenders of justice cannot even speak up for justice while being trained. It’s like that in all education institutions in Nigeria. I’m just one of the many student activists in my generation who got suspended more than once for writing to criticise a policy in the school or the education sector. The education institutions that are supposed to give the next generation of citizens liberal and critical minds, enforce closed-mindedness with the threat of losing one’s certificate. Meanwhile, the quality of the education is so bad that most youths can’t link what they learn in school to what they need to achieve their dreams. The reason most Nigerians get something as prestigious as Education is to find jobs for survival, to have something to fall back on if the Nigerian economy makes it hard for them to achieve their dreams, or as status symbol for roadside and newspaper-stand ego arguments. The advent of internet and cybercrime as a faster route to survival has made many youths dump the education institution because they can rightly see that ‘School na Scam’ (Nigerian schools though). Even lecturers treat education institution like a business for their survival, and focus more on getting research grants than imparting critical knowledge. No one even pays attention to updating the curriculum and the school structures anymore. Politicians struggle to increase school fees of public universities, sell public universities, or build their own private universities, because to them education institutions are business to cater for their survival and greed.
These are the same politicians who earn millions as salaries, allowances, and other emoluments while they remain adamant about not increasing the minimum wages for civil servants. A country that is supposed to be the Giant of Africa now have politicians bootlicking China, Russia, US, and France for deals that will get the mineral resources of this rich country exploited. A recent investigation into deals made with China shows that some clauses in the deals actually concedes the sovereignty of Nigeria to China. The same country that led Africa in the fight for independence from colonialism, is the same country that has become the lapdog of neocolonialism and imperialism, and a victim of Xenophobia from countries like Ghana, South Africa and India. Nigerians have become special targets of racial profiling in the Western world, but the politicians dare not speak against it because they are puppets of world powers rather than the representatives of indigenous people. They would slaughter their own people protesting environmental pollution by oil multinationals in the South South at the behest of those countries interested in exploiting our wealth. Elections are civil wars. Our political institutions are broken.
The same politicians that appeal to national identity and indigenous products with Made-In-Nigeria slogans order their official cars from Europe, and turn around to shut down the border because they want Nigerians to eat local rice. The same politicians defend divisive policies like “Zoning” in elections for their personal interests while claiming that they stand for One Nigeria. The same politicians feed tribal sentiments to appeal to their poorly-educated base for election purposes. Monarchs and community leaders also join in building these tribal tensions, and completely destroy our national cultural heritage of unity in diversity.
The other institution that breaks in the same pace with our cultural institutions are the religious institutions. Apart from being used during elections to sponsor religious tensions for politicians seeking to appeal to one religious base or the other, this broken institution found its way into disrupting the justice system of a secular country like Nigeria with the infamous Sharia law. This law does not only use ridiculous religious sins as a basis to perpetrate inhumane punishments like capital punishments on political oppositions, it legalises animalistic practices like domestic violence, marital rape and child marriage. It encourages intolerance and superiority complex to people that do not believe in the Muslim religion, and creates an institutional basis for the terrorist threat of Boko-Haram, ISWAP, etc, growing significantly in the Northern states where Sharia law is applicable. The Christian religion on the other hand has left liberation theology for a prosperity theology, that billionaire pastors use to exploit their poverty-stricken members with the hope of wealth while they acquire whatever the members have left and appropriate it to themselves. This broken institution cannot be the moral compass of Nigerians, because it reeks off immorality from allegations of rape and fraud against priests and pastors.
The last defense of Nigeria’s politics should be the activists and the trade unionists. But in Nigeria, activism too is business and trade unionism is big business. This institution has been so infiltrated that politicians now contract activists and trade unionists to be their defence whenever they seek to launch anti-people economic policies. Every politician now has their own NGOs, activists, and union leaders that they contact and ask to lead counter protests or frustrate genuine protests of the masses. Trade Union elections are massively monetized by politicians from different camps. Students’ Union elections are militarised with cultists (deadly thugs) from different campuses.
No institution is left with which Nigeria can be reformed. No reform is possible and therefore a revolution is not only necessary, but actually inevitable. The effort to make it happen and organize the revolution is to make it as peaceful as possible, and go through the least barbaric route to the real change that we seek. In the words of Malcolm X, “Reform is for the people who have government connections, but revolution is for the people.”
Nigeria needs a revolution and I don’t need to convince my reader here before it can happen. The stage is already set by the props of poverty, insecurity, and the social frustration that has led many to suicide. The point of my whole submission is to remind us of why that revolution will be happening and why we need to keep that reason in mind to ensure that we get the positive outcomes we seek out of that revolution. I’m not procrastinating because the revolution is already happening. The earlier you become a part of it, the better. The revolution will not happen tomorrow, it is happening – it’s a REVOLUTION and it’s happening NOW!
Omole Ibukun writes from Lagos.