Before we go into revolution, we need to know exactly what we want. An example of two ‘common problems’ in Nigeria; corruption and violence, have been identified by Pastor Bakare in his recent call for revolution in the country. I sincerely struggled with extreme difficulty to ignore the general insults the pastor heaped on every Nigerian in order to address some of the points he raised in the highly volatile speech. However, recalling Christ’s injunction (Matthew 5:22) I wonder how such vitriolic comments could come from a ‘man of God’ and the sort of model he is setting for the youths.
Well I do not know if Nigeria’s problems could be simplified as such (corruption and violence). But following the simplistic model, I would actually say corruption and ethnicity, and possibly the twin forces of corruption and ethnicity fanning the amber of violence. Thus violence is a secondary issue and using it as a basis for revolution, while leaving out a powerful force such as ethnicity will leave us worse off, as the underlying problem will remain unattended.
The next thing we need to sort out is the after-revolution scenario. Who are we going to hand over the baton of leadership to? Will it be past corrupt leaders, imperialists in disguise, rich and mighty pastors or Imams? Who will it be?
Revolutions are not all about getting people onto the streets to remove an existing regime, but also to replace a bad regime with a totally different and better one. But recent revolutions around the world have failed short of this. Revolutions that are not properly handled could deteriorate into anarchy, war, genocide etc.
Taking a deep look at the level of corruption in the country, the simplest model is that the country is making huge sums of revenue especially from the oil industry but nothing is on the ground to show for it.
So whatever that is making that money not to be effectively utilized must be the big guy Corruption. The ordinary man on the street is rightly shouting that the government is bad (we have seen huge loots lodged in different secret accounts round the world evidencing this), but he collects peanuts from same corrupt politicians to vote in the bad guys. It is amply clear that corruption is not limited to politicians and the PDP.
Tracing the trajectory of every money accruing to the federal government from the Cadastral Zone headquarters of the Central Bank of Nigeria would not only lead to the pockets of politicians, but also to the pants of most civil servants in the country. Civil servants in different MDAs annually share proceeds from budgeted money that were not utilized. Civil servants bribe politicians to increase their budgetary votes. Civil servants constantly demand certain amount of money from contractors before certain contractual documents are signed, leading in most cases to the unnecessary delay in project execution and in some cases outright cancellations.
We have lost so many foreign grants and funds targeted at certain environmental projects as a result. Civil servants own most of the million naira properties littering the streets of Abuja. Juxtaposing this wealth (God’s blessing) to the annual salary of a civil servant in the country will directly point at corruption. Civil servants are the ones that grab most of the contracts awarded by their offices through proxies. These are all forms of corruption – although not a comprehensive list, but the ones that have played huge role in stifling our economy alongside the common one – direct looting of the treasury.
But the irony is that these civil servants are the same people that go to churches and mosques to proclaim the goodness of God and regularly pay huge sums of money (did you call it tithe or seed sowing?) to pastors, bishops (don’t know about Imams) keeping them afloat in private jets amidst poverty stricken neighbors.
Ethnicity and favoritism is another strong issue in Nigeria driving various sentiments that militate against the development of the country. Most of the violence recorded in the country has been as a result of this. Anyway a lot has been said about this. But this is an important point Pastor Bakare should note while planning the revolution, as the first revolution in the country failed as a result of this. Can he fearless march to Aso Rock confidently leaving his back to be covered by a Northerner/Muslim and vice versa?
Now going back a bit into history, we need to recall that right from independence there has been corruption in the country – although the level is increasing in geometric proportion. The revolution of the Nine Majors in 1966 was as a result of this. When people talk about corruption these days, they seem to have forgotten that corruption did not start with the present administration or with the PDP. Agreed their hands are deep in the shit, but “before Abraham I was”. And I get so amazed when past military and civilian leaders and cohorts gallivant the country dishing out to us unwholesome lectures on the corrupt and “foolish” leaders we have had and how to fight corruption in the country.
To root out corruption from our country, we need to start from day 1 – 1960. And any past leader (still living of course), administrator, and high-level civil servant that has direct link with budgetary allocations/votes must be made to account for their role in bringing us to the present level. Partial uprooting of corruption will only amount to a blatant mockery and possibly compound the in situ problem.
Taking a critical look at GEJ’s administration, I do ask myself if we are fair to him. Are we heaping all the mess of previous administrations on him? Since his inception what has he done right for the country and what has he done wrong? We really need these answers to decide on the failure or success of the administration. Secondly are we too fast in judging him or we are expecting a lot from him within a short period of time? Or is he really slow in delivering (I wonder about this at times). Or possibly he is playing the same old trick on us? One thing though I seem to have noticed, he appears to be a listening president (many thanks to Facebook).
I am however, convinced (not prophesying – lol) within my heart that the present administration will determine the future of Nigeria. The country is lying dangerously on the edge, as the people seem to have taken more than enough. The tension is building up every day. And if the high-level of charges created by these tensions are not carefully dissipated by the current administration, the country may either implode or explode.
However the call for revolution is possibly out of frustration and ill-thought-out. We would be removing the PDP government to be replaced by whom? We have seen what happened in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Do you sincerely call these, “people-oriented revolution”? Mubarak went and soldiers took over. Ben Ali was replaced by a lesser Ben Ali (tongue-in-cheek).Soldier go soldier come. That’s not a people oriented revolution. Libya’s from the look of things is even worse as the hand of the clock may be taken back to the King Idris’s, if not the colonial era, from they way the so called ‘Friends of Libya’ are going about it.
So the question is, will removing PDP or Goodluck Jonathan solve our problem? We need to identify the root cause of our problem to have an effective solution. There is a broad class of bad and corrupt people cutting across political parties, as well as across ethnic and religious divides, and also career civil servants benefiting from the present corrupt arrangement. Therefore, only the impartial removal of this class of people and emplacement of an effective deterrence measure seems to be the best business in town (at least in theory).
Now I wonder if Pastor Bakare took this fact into cognizance. From his speech (I find it difficult calling it sermon) he seems to be in a euphoric plane where the PDP government would be removed by the revolution he is calling for, to be replaced by the CPC. I bet Pastor Bakare forgot that any true revolution in the country will not only sweep GEJ/PDP out of the equation but would also take the Buharis along the line. Anything short of that will complicate the present situation.
He is living in a glass house, and gathering stones to throw is not exactly a brilliant idea – I dare say.
Anyway, I am ready when they are.
Obinna Anejionu is a lecturer and the author of the blockbuster - Last Oda – An exposé of the dangerous activities of fraternities in Nigerian Universities.