Revolutions come in different format and in whatever format it comes the status quo takes it very seriously because of its potentials of massive upheaval. We have been told about the French revolution, the Bolshevik revolution and the many revolutions that have happened in Africa, plus the Cuban one if I will add.
A revolution is usually a forceful overthrow of status quo, it is usually bloody and decapitates a whole ruling class and in most cases does not limit itself to those with direct powers but also a whole class and some cases that we have heard, a tribe or ethnic proclivity. Not all revolutions are violent and bloody, we have seen and heard of bloodless revolutions like the Civil Rights movements led by Martin Luther King.
Other types of revolution could be social, like the one being fostered on us by Bobrisky, the transgender model who seems to have succeeded in changing the narrative on how we view our sexuality as a people. There are also cultural revolutions that have seen Nigerian music take over not just Nigeria nay Africa but the world. You see how the whole world is transfixed by our music and movies. This is a bloodless takeover of global consciousness.
However, in all types of revolution, they all share a common goal. The overthrow of status quo and its replacement with a new type of system and the total discernment of the existing norm. Now this is different from reforms. Reforms in my own estimation is a systematic change in modus operandi within an existing system without a necessary change in leadership. So a revolution is much more drastic than reforms which usually still follows entrenched system in achieving change. So the Buhari government’s TSA policy is reformist and not a revolution.
So, what was Sowore talking about with his revolution and did he have the capacity to see it through? Finally did the government overreact by taking him in a few hours to his d-day?
Now, supporters of the government have pointed at the Arab spring as an example of a revolution that can go out of hand if not nipped in the bud. They also cite other examples of people’s power like the one that brought Corazon Aquino to power in Philippines and the ongoing one in Hong Kong and conclude that the government acted in good stead in nipping this one in the bud by the early Saturday morning action.
Well, this throws up two critical points. What are the conditions that led to Sowore declaring a revolution and then Governments reaction? The conditions that have thrown up these circumstances are quite very obvious and there is no need to rehash it here. The thing with it is that these conditions have united Nigerians in their collective approach towards them. What we are seeing is a general apathy, a recuse to faith and self help as can be seen with the growing religious platforms and the huge outflow of Nigerians to other countries. The government has reported that 17million Nigerians live outside our shores and this number keeps growing almost on daily basis. This particular movement also brings a positive spin with the diaspora inflow of funds far outstripping earnings from oil almost in the double.
So, is Sowore speaking the minds of the vast majority of the people? I dare say yes but not in his proposed plan of action in redressing the situation.
Now, the second point is government’s reaction to his call. Government continues to show its huge lack of understanding of the social proclivity of Nigerians. They must understand that the main instrument of cohesion and mobilization is good governance. Simple. Not rhetoric’s, muzzling of dissenting voices or ‘propaganda’ but effective governance that carries everybody along.
While these may be relative because even the very best governments still have virulent critics, the government must really understand the dynamics of public thought. With the advent of social media and other platforms of release the pressure on public revolt has been minimized and contained. Unlike in the past when we had just NTA and very few media platforms, control was easy and public opinion could easily be gauged and guided. This led to the massive street revolts and protest as a result of the need to exhale.
But today, the internet and so many other platforms have opened up multi-level platforms for expression and as a result, mobilization is now very difficult as ideas and arguments are freely sought and given and debates remain at those places. So every issue has its proponents and opponents and if the government was better prepared they would have seen that Sowore’s revolt was going to suffer a still birth and as a result should have relaxed. But this move has now collated opinions in his favor, boosted his credentials as a fearless and bold socio -political crusader while on the downside painted government as a draconian dark aged horse.
This was not a revolution in the mold of the French revolution nor the Arab spring, this was a cry from a young man who claimed to be speaking to millions and was also being responded by millions both for and against. The least the government would have done was to be an uninterested arbiter in the argument, throwing up its own position and encouraging debates.
So, your child is upset about something and starts throwing tantrum you react by slapping and slamming him to the floor. Ohhh so archaic. He gets mute because he can not bare the physical pain but is he assuaged? No sir. He builds resentment and the very first opportunity usually -he leaves the roost and never comes back.
So arresting Sowore and trying him for anything talk less of the treason we are hearing is so unproductive and dark aged that you begin to wonder who makes these decisions. Would it have not been better if he was engaged the way IBB engaged Tai Solarin on live TV eroding the old man’s credibility and dealing him a blow that he never recovered from till he passed.
I appeal to government to fight opposition a little bit more strategically. The DSS and other institutions of force should redirect their efforts towards the more critical areas of crime and insecurity that seems to be taking us apart while throwing up a strong team that can engage the public in cohesive debates, play at their games and use strategic brain power in diffusing the tension.
So, invite Sowore to a live TV debate and put very strong egg heads on the government side with access to the very latest and strong information and watch the opposition wither down. IBB did it with the SAP debates. But in all these what we really need is good governance and a strong vehicle of national renaissance.
This was not a revolution, it is a stringent cry to be heard.
By Joseph Edgar…
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