A friend who knows how passionately I love Nigeria and want to see Nigeria develop recently sent to me a forwarded message which did not carry the name of the author. After reading the write up again and again, the question that came to my mind is the topic of this piece - Can Nigeria be redeemed and made to become great without the right revolution?
There is no word Nigerian leaders hate to hear like the word 'revolution'. The word always sends shivers down their spines and they stoically mobilize the security machinery of the state to crush any bagger who dare use the prohibited word or attempt to mobilize a protest in the name of the dreaded word. The case of Omoyele Sowore and the Revolution Now protest is still very fresh in our minds.
The truth about revolution is that revolution is always going on around us in one form or the other whether we are in consciousness of it or not.
In the Nigerian music scene for example, a revolution is currently occurring to destroy the moral fabrics of the Nigerian society. That revolution has almost totally ended the era of music with good messages and birthed a generation of people obsessed with music rich in fowl language, full of rubbish lyrics and saturated with messages that promote lascivious living. When I see young and old people who are well educated and able to discern good and bad moving with the flow of the music produced by this revolution, I am left confused and amazed most of the time?
In the political arena, a revolution is worrisomely going on and winning more zealots daily. That revolution has produced a generation of political office holders who are enemies of development and apostles of corruption, greed and moral bankruptcy. The revolution has ruined the mentality of the Nigerian people and established a culture of nothing goes for nothing. It has established a tradition of winning elections by vote- buying, thuggery and rigging. The revolution also ensured that no honest candidate running on the platform of ideas, visions and development can ever win election in Nigeria.
Our military and the entire security machinery have been quietly undergoing a revolution for nearly two decades now. This revolution has gradually eroded professionalism and nationalism in our security agencies and infected our armed forces with the virus of corruption, greed, tribalism and godfatherism. As it is in the Nigerian armed forces, so it is in the Civil Service where a wicked revolution has ensured the worst people are the ones given the best jobs and the headship of ministries, departments and agencies that ought to be pillars for Nigeria's sustainable progress and development.
These negative revolutions going on daily within our polity have spelt and continued to spell doom for Nigeria. It has destroyed the robust promise of greatness Nigeria made to the world sixty years ago at independence.
If Nigeria will ever be saved from the impending destruction which our political leaders are all pretending not to notice, they and all of us must wake up to answer Nigeria's most pressing and most urgent question before it is too late.
Back to the write up that triggered this article, please read and digest these thoughts that this concerned Nigerian whose name I do not know wrote about Chief Obafemi Awolowo – A man who perhaps saw the future and remain quotable compared to his counterpart Nationalists:
"When on Friday, February 28, 1986, Samuel Cookey, a professor of political science, who had just been given an appointment by then military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, IBB, wrote a letter requesting the Yoruba sage, Pa Obafemi Jeremiah Awolowo, to avail the Nigerian state the benefit of his wisdom, he (Cookey) did not bargain for what would be the response.
Babangida had promised the Nigerian nation that he would enthrone a new social order by doing away with the politics of the past, bring in new breed politicians and change the political landscape. And since he was not going to wave the magic wand, he sought and got Cookey to chair a Political Bureau.
That Bureau was saddled with the responsibility of fashioning out, after due consultations with Nigerians via memoranda and public presentations, a new political order.
It was in the pursuit of this mandate that the professor wrote to Pa Awolowo, requesting his participation and views.
To that request, Awolowo wrote the following:
“I received your letter of February 28, 1986, and sincerely thank you for doing me the honour of inviting me to contribute to the National Political Debate.
“The purpose of the debate is to clarify our thoughts in our search for a new social order.
“It is therefore meet and proper that all those who have something to contribute should do so.
“I do fervently and will continue fervently to pray that I may be proved wrong.
“For something within me tells me, loud and clear, that we have embarked on a fruitless search.
“At the end of the day, when we imagine that the new order is here, we would be terribly disappointed.
“In other words, at the threshold of our New Social Order, we would see for ourselves that, as long as Nigerians remain what they are, nothing clean, principled, ethical, and idealistic can work with them.
“And Nigerians will remain what they are, unless the evils which now dominate their hearts, at all levels and in all sectors of our political, business and governmental activities are exorcised.
“But I venture to assert that they will not be exorcised, and indeed they will be firmly entrenched, unless God Himself imbues a vast majority of us with a revolutionary change of attitude to life and politics or, unless the dialetic processes which have been at work for some twenty years now, perforce, make us perceive the abominable filth that abounds in our society, to the end that an inexorable abhorrence of it will be quickened in our hearts and impel us to make drastic changes for the better.
“There is, of course, an alternative option open to us.
“To succumb to permanent social instability and chaos.
“In the premises, I beg to decline your invitation.
“I am yours truly, Obafemi Awolowo”
It’s 34 years now that Awo wrote this letter. "It is clear in my mind that this deep thinker saw into the future as time continues to validate his thoughts. Nigeria may have inadvertently chosen the alternative – “permanent social instability and chaos”. Otherwise, how else does one explain what has been happening in Nigeria?
I remember in 1982 or so when he returned from his annual spiritual retreat, scores of journalists gathered at the airport to interrogate him. One of the questions posted was to query his thoughts on how Nigeria can be redeemed and placed on the path of growth. He replied emphatically that Nigeria is beyond redemption and there was no more hope. His political opponents dismiss his statement with ignominy and tagged him a prophet of doom.
Prior to that and before his departure for his spiritual retreat, he raised an alarm that Nigeria was sliding very fast in economic and social order metrics. He said there remained a slim chance to change the course of events and save Nigeria. He reeled out immediate steps to be taken by the government but he was labeled alarmist and his counsels were treated politically.
Today, only those who enjoy chaos thrive in Nigeria. It has been tragedies since then."
There are revolutions and there are revolutions. Every revolution type, nature, approach and implementation depends on the motives of the sponsors. The negative forces in Nigeria have been quietly launching their own revolutions and dealing deadly blows to the destiny of Nigeria with all of us either joining those revolutions or pretending the negative revolutions around them did not affect us.
It is a stubborn fact today that Nigeria is one of the worst performing nations of the world. Our debt burden is growing annually and the economy is getting harsher and unbearable by the day. The blanket of hopelessness is spreading its coverage wider and wider over the Nigerian space. Life in Nigeria is getting nastier, more brutish and shorter every year. Those who can afford it are running away in search of better lives all over the world and the bad eggs among the diaspora are doing their best to join our clueless and corruption- infested ruling class to further damage the broken and fragile image of the country.
Nigeria needs to be rescued, redeemed and rebooted urgently to save it from avoidable collapse and death. That salvation can never come from the way things are now and from the path of destruction we seem to be headed. If the Nigerian political leaders and the masses truly love this country and want to see a truly great, strong and prosperous Nigeria emerge, then we must all answer this very important question - How long can Nigeria survive without embracing the right revolution we need? Time is fast becoming a luxury we can not afford.