As it pertains to Sowore’s Revolution Now, and the mounting global pressure, the point is that we don’t need this noise for now. A civilian, democratic government cannot be conducting itself like a military dictatorship, allowing foreign governments to make statements suggesting that its intentions are dictatorial in nature. Nigeria last had such situation in the 80s and 90s. But what does anyone expect? Sowore’s mother is seen in distress weeping. The optics are bad. Opeyemi, his wife, is doing the right thing meeting her senator and now the Department of State has stepped in. Trump does not care about Nigeria. He thinks we are wild animals and he detests Buhari ab initio. If he is pushed to make a statement, we will not like what he will utter. Thus far, these western countries have got everything they want from Buhari who is ready to offer anything to be in their good books. Our careening debt profile is enough evidence. This government is hoping that the western world will treat the Sowore affair as insignificant. They are right. But only up to an extent.
I have two solutions for the government to deescalate this matter which may not turn out the way they expect. God forbid something happens and Sowore’s blood stains Buhari’s government. From all I know the crisis that will ensue will not be easy to manage. I think the government has taken enough risk with the Sowore matter. Now is time to roll back a little and use other approaches.
- Why can Buhari not adopt an approach of inviting Sowore to a private meeting? So even if Sowore merely wants some prominence/visibility as some people suggest, what is the big deal about granting the young man what he wants? Will that kill Nigeria? Or make Buhari look small? I think it will achieve the opposite. Buhari needs to occupy his father-figure position not run away from that responsibility as he has been all this while. After all, elders are supposed to see further than youngsters and be able to navigate the follies of young people? If private meetings are arranged, Buhari can personally hear out Sowore and even grant some of the concessions that he wants. I believe Sowore is fighting for a better country and for a better deal for the most oppressed amongst us. The president should know, that given what is going on in France, Egypt, Iraq, Britain, Hong Kong, Bolivia, Venezuela and other places, the younger generation are demanding for better governance across the board. Nigeria will not be an exception. Where necessary and if he accepts, create an agency that can drive some of what Sowore wants and make him the head. Let him (Sowore) also see that it is tough to run government. He may just mess himself up too. Checkmate.
- If I could advise Buhari, I will say he should buy, rebrand and own the RevolutionNow rhetoric. Revolution is not a swear word. In fact, I believe it was what we need in Nigeria presently. The word cannot be outlawed as is being done presently. Nigeria needs revolutions, which means a new way of doing things; turning things inside-out, revolving. We need an ethical revolution, a revolution against corruption, a cultural revolution like China had, an economic revolution that will boost our per capita productivity. We need a Revolution of Ideas, which is my campaign theme when I ran for presidency in February. Actually, as a long-time supporter of Buhari I thought he will bring some revolutionary action into governance in 2015, but he has acted so far like another civil servant protecting status quo. Can the president find himself? Or will his hangers-on allow him to do something radical for this country? Those are the questions. I repeat, a sitting government can brand all its actions as ‘revolution’ especially where it is ready to do something right for the vulnerable. For example, there is no better way to drive a policy that proposes to tackle corruption, or bridge the income gap, or even extract more taxes and double tax revenue, than to tag it revolution. It will distance the leader from the usual suspects – bourgeoisie classists who are building dynasties, but history/posterity will never forget such a leader. Revolution! Buhari, buy into it.
A WORD TO SOME BUHARISTS ON HISTORY
For me the most painful part of this saga is to notice that many Nigerians have lost mental bearing. Many people write on social media, saying that no one should agitate for a better government and people should wait for election cycles to express their grievance, by running for office or voting for someone who is. The lack of a sense of history is appalling. Gani ran for presidency, but also criticized bad government policies till he died. Fela Kuti did the same. He ran for president too. Some people in government and their supporters want to compartmentalize people’s thoughts into some binary position. They cannot reconcile why someone is in politics and also in activism. First of all, we are in the age where people can multitask. A Goldman Sachs CEO I read somewhere yesterday, is also a DJ over the weekend.
But more importantly, it amounts to dancing and spitting on the graves of the great people who have struggled and died so that we may ‘blow our grammar’ today. There is always a space for agitation in a society of fairly intelligent people. But for Rosa Parks, or Araminta Ross (Harriet Tubman) where would black people all over the world be even today? Perhaps we would have found independence all the same, but have to sit at the back of aeroplanes and buses no matter how much money we have. Martin Luther King Jr. was told not to march from Selma to Montgomery but he defied, and later marched on Washington. He died at 39 but the world has a bit more respect for black people today because of his efforts. Obama became president because of those actions. Without these agitations, the black man would have remained as conceived in the first American constitution; a human being but not fully. Just about 70% human. Back home we have had the Aba Women who rioted against oppressive taxes in 1929. If they hadn’t laid their lives on the line, who knows which oppressive taxes we could still be paying today. I see Margaret Ekpo, born in 1914, who played a great role in fighting for women’s rights and involvement in politics. With the firebrand Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, she staged protests against the killings that happened at the Enugu coal mines in the 1950s. Much more recently, we have Gani Fawehinmi who went to jail so many times, Beko Ransome-Kuti and his brother, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, a legendary fighter who risked everything for the common man.