BY DR CHUKS OSUJI
I have been compelled to explicitly make my views known on the ongoing nationwide protests by mostly young Nigerian on the issue of “ENDSARS PROTEST.” Am duty bound as one of the most enlightened and educated Nigerian to contribute my opinion in one way or the other. The view which I am expressing here is likely to alienate some of my country men and women. On the other hand it may please many others. While others may be ambivalent. This is expected because we are in a heterogeneous society. Indeed the heterogeneity of our country is more complex than can be conjectured.
Why? Because with over one hundred and twenty ethnic configurations our country which was a faulty creation of the British colonial masters. Indeed, the creation of Nigeria by the British was one of the most wicked colonial acts by the British.
On the other hand it was one of the most costly mistakes of our fore fathers who negotiated the granting of independence to the peoples of Nigeria in 1960.
Of course, I as one of the offsprings of that pre-colonial era could not condemn our pre-independence leaders because they were under some perplexing circumstances.
Because Nnamdi Azikiwe was hoping to be the Prime Minister of a massive Nigeria. Apparently, he under estimated the hidden agenda by the British heaped on the Northern Nigeria during the negotiation. I can stand to bet anybody that if Nnamdi Azikwe had known that he would not be the Prime Minister of post independent Nigeria, he would not continue to accept to wait for the northerners for few more years for them to accept self government and later independence.
On the other hand, Chief Obagfemi Awolowo knew where he was and where he was going and he understood the British game. But he, too, preferred to wait for the Northerners to join independence simply because he, too, was very skeptical of the colonial powers. When the British guaranteed independence for Nigerians in 1960, he could have gone ahead to accept independence in 1957 along the East when the East had agreed to wait for the North for independence in 1960.
Honestly, while both the East and the West were negotiating with open mind the north was by and large being groomed by the British to prepare for a hegemonic trust of the leadership on the Northerners.
Admittedly both Nnamdi Azikiwe and Awolowo presented a tenuous both cohesive position with the reluctant of the North to come up with the 1959 constitution which manifested in a federation of three regions with some incentives and safety valve to give each region some measure of independence in many areas. Of which one of the highlights was that each region should be developed at its own pace economically.
The result of this arrangement was that in many socioeconomic issues each region began to develop on its own pace.
As an Igbo son, after taking a second look at the Military coup of 1966 which was erroneously and wrongly termed “Igbo Coup” which destroyed the federal system of Aguiyi Ironsi led federal Military government. My position has since changed for two main reasons·
It was not Igbo coup however, the outcome could wrongly be termed Igbo coup. The consequence of that coup up till today is major cause of what we are suffering today because it was under Aguiyi Ironsi Federal regime that true federalism was inadvertently and replaced by a military system and it a “revolt” against this system is struggling to replace.
Unfortunately, the North who has been favored through several years of dictatorship has tenaciously and tenectical refused to restructure. According to one Igbo proverb, “It is easier to give a monkey a cup full of wine but impossible to retrieve it from that monkey.”
It is the myriad of political, social and economic challenges which the country has faced that resulted in the emergence of series of protests nationwide among the Nigerian youths. From every record and information available, in fact the end of SARS protest appears to be a hardheaded movement with no identified leadership which makes them to be controlled and invariably which makes it to metamorphose into a revolution.
As a political scientist and a historian, I have read numerous books on revolutions particularly in developing countries of Asia, Middle-East, Southeast-Asia and many other countries. Every revolution must have imprints of the following elements: general resentment of the leadership, massive satisfaction of the citizenry and above all, a wide spread anti-people oriented leadership. Admittedly, these three elements are currently present in the end SARS protest. Unfortunately, some strategies within the Buhari government who do not understand have resulting to cheap propaganda including baptizing some of the protesters as hoodlums who were obviously hired by some government officials to inject some elements of hooliganism in the movement and injecting some bad eggs into the movement in order to give them bad names. Government handlers had made costly mistakes by; “Mixing the bad eggs and the good eggs into one basket” this attitude had polarized the hitherto very peaceful coordinated protest.
Yes, the Federal Government has tried to blanket the protesters but the ill advised injection of hoodlums to disturb or distort the peaceful protest has projected problems of management to this so called crisis managers to the government.
On the hand, people have been asking that when the federal Government in particular had accepted the five point demand by the protesters, why have they not called off the protest? The answer is simple: due to non-cohesive nature of the protesters of the protest, hence they try to change the goal post in the middle of the game because by adding to their demand some other key issues makes the movement though serious but uncoordinated. Furthermore it weakens the bargaining powers of the protesters. In fact thinking for myself, I posit that the protesters have rattled the government enough to the effect that they should pull out of the street to package its responses respectively and implementable well by adding some other demands makes the whole efforts too immature.
Honestly, youths of this country and off course men and women of this country have swallowed over dosage of poor leadership propelled by ethnic and tribal propensities. Many would say to both sides, enough is enough. Let’s begin to use reasons to address our problems but for sure ENDSARS movement cannot and will not result in revolution because it lacks essential ingredients for revolution.