Over the years, the different cases of irregularities and inadequacies of our democratic system and its institution in Nigeria have led many to call for a revolution. The failure of the nation that was once called the Giant of Africa to attain its full status among the League of Nations and come to live the great expectations of many regarding it. For a nation such as Nigeria which is blessed with diverse resource, both natural and human resources, however these various resources which we have in abundant have not taken us or given us the economic stability that we need to achieve a progressive society as cases of corruption, abuse of power, neglect of constitutionalism, tribalism, nepotism among other vices that has marred the growth and development of the nation.
At the time of writing this article, which is 5th August 2020, there were instances of protest across the nation where people came out in some cities to demand for a revolution in Nigeria. According to many of them who bore their grievances, they expressed their displeasure at the way the country is, that the Nigerian Nation is a failed nation. The call for a revolution in Nigeria is not a new thing as there has been several demand for revolution in the country by prominent individuals, the last was the one by Omoyele Sowore which led to his arrest and detention by the Nigerian government.
However there are salient questions that we must ask if we must truly have a revolutionized Nigeria where there comes to play the true indices of a democratic system.
What is revolution?
Defining revolution, in political science, a revolution is a fundamental and relatively sudden change in political power and political organization which occurs when the population revolts against the government, typically due to perceived oppression or political incompetence.
History of Revolution
Historically, the concept of revolution was seen as a very destructive force, from ancient Greece to the European Middle Ages. The ancient Greeks saw revolution as a possibility only after the decay of the fundamental moral and religious tenets of society. Plato believed that a constant, firmly entrenched code of beliefs could prevent revolution. Aristotle elaborated on this concept, concluding that if a culture’s basic value system is tenuous, the society will be vulnerable to revolution. Any radical alteration in basic values or beliefs provides the ground for a revolutionary upheaval.
During the middle Ages, the maintenance of the established beliefs and forms of government remained the priority. Much attention was given to finding means of combating revolution and stifling changes in society. Religious authority was so strong and its belief in the maintenance of order so fundamental that the church directed people to accept the inequities of power, instead of upsetting the stability of society.
Only after the emergence of secular humanism during the Renaissance did this concept of revolution, as a cause of the desecration of society, change to embrace a more modern perspective. The 16th-century Italian writer Niccolò Machiavelli recognized the importance of creating a state that could endure the threat of revolution; but, at the same time, his detailed analysis of power led to a new belief in the necessity of changes in the structure of government on certain occasions. This new acceptance of change placed Machiavelli at the forefront of modern revolutionary thought, even though he never used the word revolution in his texts, and he was primarily concerned with the creation of a truly stable state.
Posing the need for revolution, however, has to be done in a serious manner. It is also important to understand what a revolution is. In recent years we have had several examples of so-called protest calling for revolution, which have not led to the desired intentions of the masses. Indeed, we have seen “revolutions” in other countries that have in effect been their opposites, achieving nothing for the working people and merely benefitting one wing of the ruling class. In the light of this, if the Nigerian Nation must demand for revolution, it must be sure of what it wants and its intention and how they intent going by it.
A genuine revolution does not merely change the faces of those in government, it radically changes the power set up, not just political power but economic power. It uproots the economic system, placing the material resources of the country under the control of those who actually produce the wealth, i.e. the workers and peasants.
Going by the history books and checking the various cases of past revolutions in the world, which are, the English Revolution (1649), American Revolution (1776), French Revolution (1789), Russian Revolution (1917) and Chinese Revolution (1949).
A model of revolution drawn from the five great revolutions can tell us much about why they occur and take particular trajectories. The key characteristics are:
- Long-term causes and the popularity of a socio-political ideology at odds with the regime in power
- Short-term triggers of widespread protest
- Moments of violent confrontation the power-holders are unable to contain as sections of the armed forces defect to rebels
- The consolidation of a broad and victorious alliance against the existing regime
- A subsequent fracturing of the revolutionary alliance as competing factions vie for power
- the re-establishment of a new order when a revolutionary leader succeeds in consolidating power
The first challenge Nigerians face whenever revolution is discussed or planned is our heterogeneity. If people in Lagos (our commercial capital) agree to lead protests and cripple the state, can the same be replicated in Nigeria’s administrative capital – Abuja where the way of life and culture is extremely different from Lagos? Different religions and ethnic groups will be suspicious of one another in the planning process and questions like – “is this a north vs south protest”, “is this a Christian vs Islam protest”, and “who will become leader if we succeed” will be asked.
Adding to this, the inadequacies in our system is entirely about leadership, it is one that has its tentacles deep into the fabrics of the nation. It is not just about our so called leaders, it is one which hinds on every individual in the nation, one that has to do with a change in our collective behavioral pattern, the Nigerian society is filled with people who believes that political positions are nothing but opportunities for them to amass wealth, also the average Nigerian youth no longer believes in the virtue of hard work but now believes that they can cut shortcuts to make financial wealth.
The fulcrum of this article is for us as Nigerians not to jump into believing that we can have a revolution without an acute planning, without recourse for the future, given the multi-ethnic set-up of Nigeria, are we not going to have a revolution with no desired result or are we not going to have one that will create more problems for ourselves.
Before we think of a national revolution, there is a need for a mind revolution, there are other means and methods which we can employ to attaining this, else we fight a lost battle, one of this is gradually ensure that we do not always sell our souls for cheap political gains, in electing our leaders, it must be a conscious efforts to ensure that our votes truly count, we must understand that good people can learn to win election in Nigeria. We must ensure that we do right by the country through our actions by eliminating every iota of corrupt practices in our doings irrespective of our social status. Nigerian Politics must be defined by elites who can truly solve the problems of this nation, as the 21st century Nigerian does not need leader who are illiterates with no sense of leadership qualities or mediocre.
It is enough to demand for a thing, it is another to want it, we must be careful to demand for that which we truly understand, that which we are sure will not be manipulated by the forces that brought us here in the first place.
By Marcus Amudipe
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