Originally Published On April 07, 2020
Liberating Nigeria forum is currently the only Nigeria Politics forum that is fully dedicated to enlightening, organizing, influencing and uniting first-time voters across Nigeria.
This forum seeks to engage a lot on current Nigeria political news, digitally organizing and enlightening Nigerian students and social media politicians, as well as publishing contents related to topical issues like the recent COVID-19, opposition PDP news, ruling party APC and the emergence of a people’s political movement that can defeat the old order.
Unlike many other forums, their home page clearly highlights the forum’s vision and mission statements.
According to the website home page contents, the forum’s vision is to enlighten, organize and influence 20m first-time voters by 2027.
And their mission statements are as follows: “We will register 5m members by 2023 and 20m members by 2027; We will enlighten our members about politics, policies and ideologies; We will influence our members to register, vote, defend their votes and vie for office; We will actively support the emergence of a unified people’s movement that will ultimately defeat the old order;”
The forum looks very nice and clean. It includes several categories daily news, voting, COVID-19, the six geo-political zones in Nigeria, third force, opinion, ideologies, announcements, among others.
It also has a blog section that is used for political news items. Unlike most other similar forums, the Liberating Nigeria forum has in-house writers that create regular original contents focused on explaining policies and politics to Nigerians.
They also write about Nigeria’s political economy, healthcare, education and international relations. Also worthy of mentioning is a book titled: “LIBERATING NIGERIA: A GUIDE TO WINNING ELECTIONS AND LIBERATING NIGERIA.” And it was interesting to watch the author’s interviews on Channels TV talking about his book and Nigeria’s political culture, and on Arise TV discussing politics today and youth participation.
Liberating Nigeria forum is remarkable and intriguing because the website contents clearly articulates the forum’s desire to support the emergence of a strong people’s movement that will influence Nigeria’s future elections but will not be aligned to a single political party.
This platform and other similar ones that may come up in future may become politically influential like other traditional (non-digital) influential groups that exist in Nigeria today. According to the Statista, Nigeria had 92.3million internet users in 2018 and the figure is projected to grow to 187.8 internet users by 2023. This may be a highly exaggerated figure, but it clearly shows that internet users in Nigeria can play a huge role in Nigeria’s politics from 2023 if a significant percentage of them begin to vote.
This is the group that the Liberating Nigeria and other similar groups are presumed to be targeting. If we can end political apathy among this group and get a god percentage of them to start voting, Nigeria will indeed be transformed. When the Alliance for Democracy political party was formed in 1998, it took the Afenifere agenda as its official manifesto.
This was an example of a political party getting formed by a prior socio-cultural or socio-political group. Around 1998, we also had the G-34 that metamorphosized into the People’s Democratic Party. But before 1998, there was the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) that was founded by Major Gen Shehu Musa Yar’Adua (rtd) and got inherited by former vice president Atiku Abubakar). PDM is believed to have been a direct successor to the People’s Front of Nigeria (PFN) group founded by the same Shehu Yar’Adua in 1992. PDM/PFN is perhaps the most widespread political movement across Nigeria in the last 30 years because it had members from virtually all the six political regions in Nigeria.
It is widely believed that the PFN group was the most influential sub-group of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992, and they helped to deliver victory to Yar’Adua in the 1992 SDP presidential primaries. The SDP eventually won more legislative seats and governorship elections across Nigeria than the NRC but Nigeria’s former military ruler – General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) annulled the presidential primaries In the 1993 SDP presidential primary elections in 1993, Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola won the first round but he required the PFN group under the leadership of Shehu Yar’Adua to prevail on former vice president Atiku Abubakar (who came third at the first round) to step down, which made it easier for M.K.O. Abiola to clinch the ticket in the 2nd round of voting.
This was really interesting because some northerners expected that the PFN (headed by a northerner) would have supported Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe (another northerner who came 2nd in the first round) to clinch the ticket. Bola Tinubu was part of the PFN structure alongside Atiku Abubakar but by 1999, both had belonged to different political groups. The good thing about socio-political groups that don’t convert to political parties is that they can retain their core identities even as members of a political party and can in fact move from one party to another if they have issues in their original party.
This has helped Atiku to significantly prosper in different political groups that he has joined. Perhaps the most recent political group in Nigeria that has lately become poplar and strong in recent years is the Kwankwasiyya group founded by the former Kano State Governor Engr. (Dr.) Rabiu Kwankwanso. But this group is mostly influential only in Kano State. Aside this group, we still have strong coalitions or sub-groups or structures (as is most commonly called) in the ruling party (APC) headed by Muhammadu Buhari, Bola Tinubu, etc. Those groups don’t have publicly known names or specific ideologies but identify strongly with their principals. In the United States, a tea party sprang up as a sub-group within the Republican party in 2009 and they had very clear ideologies. According to Wikipedia, “the Tea Party movement is an American fiscally conservative political movement within the Republican Party.
Members of the movement have called for lower taxes, and for a reduction of the national debt of the United States and federal budget deficit through decreased government spending.” This is a clear example of what is expected from a movement like the Liberating Nigeria digital movement. They must have very clear ideologies as they engage with several people and political parties. Kwankwasiyya group members wear trademark red caps and try to identify with the late Mallam Aminu Kano socialist movement. But other than the red caps, Their leader or group members never discuss their specific ideologies in relation to what Aminu Kano stood for. Aminu Kano had a socialist agenda and focused a lot on talakawa followership. He challenged the old order in the north and largely showed that he was different from the northern premier Ahmadu Bello.
The Liberating Nigeria forum messaging was appealing and it is impressive to see a forum discussing the following political ideologies – Free Healthcare for all Nigerians Free and Quality Education up to JSS3 Free Vocational Education Legalize and regulate lobbying to reduce corruption Single-digit agric loan, accessible to small scale farmers Negotiate with Boko Haram to end the war Reduce allowance in legislature and executive, and end discretionary security votes Electronic Voting State governors should not be allowed to obtain loans with duration higher than 8 years Restructuring It is hoped they will sustain this and truly help guide the emergence of a true people’s movement that will focus greatly on core principles to distinguish them from other political movements. There is nothing wrong in transforming into a political part, but I love the fact that this movement may become influential enough to be able to help multiple groups and people from different parties in future.
According to Wikipedia, “Egbé Ọmọ Odùduwà is a Nigerian political organisation established in 1945, when Chief Obafemi Awolowo along with Dr. Akinola Maja Dr. Oni Akerele, Chief Akintola Williams, Professor Saburi Biobaku, Chief Abiodun Akinrele, Chief D.O.A. Oguntoye, Chief Ayo Rosiji and others, met in London. “Their stated aim in setting up the organisation was to unite the Yorùbá in a manner similar to the tenets of the Ibibio State Union and the Ibo Federal Union; which were political action committees of the Ibibio and the Igbo respectively. The Egbé Ọmọ Odùduwà grew in importance in 1948 when it was launched in Lagos with great fanfare by prominent Yorùbá politicians associated with the Nigerian Youth Movement.
“These politicians included Chief Bode Thomas, Sir Adeyemo Alakija, Chief H. O. Davies, Sir Kofo Abayomi, Chief Akintola Williams, Dr. Akinola Maja and others. The revival of the Egbé Ọmọ Odùduwà in 1948 was not accidental, because that was the year heated debates were being held to decide Nigeria’s political orientation; nationalism or parochialism. “During this period of the struggle for independence from the British, radical nationalism had been in the ascendancy since 1938, but it became very pronounced between 1945 and 1948. This period was marked by the General Strike of 1945 and the 1946 Nigeria-wide NCNC campaign against the imposition of the Richards Constitution. “Yoruba politicians in Lagos led by Chief Bode Thomas formed the group in response to the afore-mentioned ethnically specific organisations, and also to chart a specific course for the development of Nigeria’s Western Region, populated overwhelmingly by the Yorubas. On March 21, 1951, the Egbé Ọmọ Odùduwà set up a political party called the Action Group. “The party was to serve as the vehicle for realizing its primary objective of mobilizing the Yorùbá under one political umbrella.
The Action Group was therefore formed to implement the ideas and objectives of the Egbé Ọmọ Odùduwà; and was led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo.” The events described above were similar with what happened in the north and you can see how socio-political groups created strong political groups. Most of them shared relationships based on their ethnic identities, but in today’s Nigeria, socio-political groups should be formed based on common interests and ideologies. No single ethnic group in Nigeria can claim that its people are not experiencing some poverty or marginalization. So the poor from all regions in Nigeria should always be ready to collaborate rather than allow the elites to create unnecessary discord among them.
Gani Fawehinmi created the National Conscience Party (NCP) in 1994 but didn’t get approved until 2003. He ran for the office of the President and came 5th. Femi Falana ran under same party at Ekiti and lost. This is the closest to an actual movement because Gani got votes across Nigeria (about 160 thousand in total). It has been seventeen years since Gani fought this political battle and instead of us making progress, there has been absolutely nothing close to NCP. In 2019, most new political parties scored less than 50 thousand votes, indicating that we are not getting things right. I hope Liberating Nigeria will not make mistakes that the recent movements have made. Can music play a role in liberating movements? Reggae and afrobeat are perhaps the only two genres of music that have played liberation roles in the past several decades. Unfortunately, reggae is technically dead in Nigeria and the few afrobeat players need partners to better articulate their message.
Naira Marley may have chosen the last name ‘Marley’ and his dreadlocks to identify with the legend Bob Marley. But if this was the case, One can only wonder why Naira Marley is not playing a role in Nigeria’s liberation. Perhaps because he is still young and needs money and fame. If it’s true that Naira Marley is one of the most sought-after musicians by Nigerians in their teens and 20s, the Liberating Nigeria movement should indeed seek to collaborate with him to further amplify their message to the youths. What about Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti – the children of the great Fela Anikulapo Kuti? They should also be part of the Liberating Nigeria movement because they appeal to many people that want Nigeria to change. What about religion? The church and Islam can play huge roles in Nigeria’s liberation. It was exciting to read a politics article on liberatingnigeria.com that corroborates this point. According to Britannica, “Liberation theology, religious movement arising in late 20th-century Roman Catholicism and centred in Latin America. It sought to apply religious faith by aiding the poor and oppressed through involvement in political and civic affairs. It stressed both heightened awareness of the “sinful” socioeconomic structures that caused social inequities and active participation in changing those structures…. “The liberation theology movement gained strength in Latin America during the 1970s. Because of their insistence that ministry should include involvement in the political struggle of the poor against wealthy elites, liberation theologians were often criticized—both formally, from within the Roman Catholic Church, and informally—as naive purveyors of Marxism and advocates of leftist social activism.” Nigeria can continue to practice capitalism but take care of the poor as many countries do. “Liberation doesn’t always have to be seen as a socialist movement because even the top capitalist countries in the world take care of the poor among them. Islam has also played a great role in political liberation, and the recently deposed Emir of Kano – Muhammadu Sanusi II symbolizes this. “Despite his shortcomings, he fought the elites and created reforms in the Kano emirates that will last for a long time. Liberation is not about creating Sharia law like some northern governors did, but is about providing education and healthcare to the poor. What’s the use in creating Sharia law and after a decade, your state is among the poorest in education and healthcare? Religions should improve the society.
If Nigeria truly currently has over 100m internet users and majority of these people see themselves as part of the oppressed, poor, and struggling lower middle-class, then we indeed have the required numbers to overwhelmingly defeat the minority elites during elections if we can come together. Internet is a leveler and provides opportunity for all types of people to meet and interact. It is the largest place to recruit first-time voters and Liberating Nigeria should smartly engage to bring people together.
Finally, the importance of collaboration. The Tea Party movement within the US republican party focused on their ideologies but they still collaborated with different people and groups in the republican party. They didn’t angrily leave the republican party because of their differences with the establishment. Some people (influenced by the Liberating Nigeria ideologies) will have to remain in or join the APC or PDP to fight from within those groups, while many others will join a new single party (which was called 3rd force around 2018/2019). The 3rd force (new major political party) should be willing to talk to religious leaders, traditional politicians and many other groups that can help promote their agenda. Liberating Nigeria and other similar forums or groups must help to facilitate good collaborations across Nigeria that enhance our elections from 2023.