At the attainment of independence from Britain in October of 1960, Nigeria was genuinely tagged: ‘Giant of Africa’ owing to its rising industries, rich agricultural landscapes and a GDP which had the potentials of competing favourably with those of powerful and influential nations of Europe and North America.
Tragically, like most African countries in the sub-Saharan region, the events which followed the successful quest for independence and national prestige failed to meet the high hopes and aspirations of the Nigerian people. Indigenous political elites who inherited political leadership from British supremacists simply consolidated the colonial legacy of wanton oppression and impunity – even with a more ruthless approach than their foreign predecessors. What followed next was the formation of oligarchy in the new Nigerian nation. The result as seen today is mediocrity, indiscipline, economic sabotage and the open legalisation of corruption into the Nigerian life.
As the nation gasped for breath at the time, the imposition of several anti-people policies by the Nigerian ruling class, particularly the introduction of the infamous Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in 1986 by Dictator Ibrahim Babangida’s junta further worsened the lives of the Nigerian people, resulting to the sharp depreciation of the Naira to about 80% against the US Dollar whilst inflation rose from 16% to 55% between 1987 and 1988, then dropping to 7% in 1990 before jumping to a disturbing 50% in 1992.
But whilst the Nigerian people got suffocated by SAP’s hostility, the oligarchs amplified their flamboyant lifestyles, confirming that Nigeria had indeed been partitioned by what seemed like the Great Wall of China to create two different worlds inside the same country!
This brief historical background has been highlighted solely as a window to enable us understand when and how the scorching sun drying up present-day Nigeria started.
It is appropriate to understand that since the existing setup has only benefited members of the oligarchy who are desperate to not let go of a system which has fed them so well, a strong and resilient confrontation will be required from victims of this hostile system to break down the Great Wall that has created two separate worlds in Nigeria: the wretched and the stupendously wealthy oppressors. It is the struggle to break down this Economic Wall that invokes the question of a Nigerian Revolution.
There is not a smidgen of doubt that Nigeria is overdue for a revolution. History has proven that incidents which have led to major revolts elsewhere are lightweight compared to the horrendous conditions of today’s Nigeria. For instance, what has become known as the Flour War which occurred in France in 1775 was a revolt caused by the hike in the price of bread, and was commenced by women in market places in Paris. Also, the Yellow Vests Movement in the same country as recently as 2018 which almost resulted to the removal of President Emmanuel Macron was provoked by the rise in the price of petrol and high cost of living. Same can be said of the American Revolution of 1775, Russian Revolution of 1917, Cuban Revolution of 1959 and the Arab Spring of 2010.
Unlike the instances referenced above, contemporary Nigeria is replete with the most dehumanising living conditions which are unbefitting as punishment for even the cruellest of crimes: high rate of unemployment, food inflation, lack of security, political gerrymandering, electoral fraud, astronomical hike in the price of petrol, imposition of outrageous electricity tariffs for a country that is literally in darkness, a dysfunctional healthcare system, a shambolic educational system, weaponisation of illiteracy and poverty, weakened institutions, lawlessness, reckless abuse of human rights, a weakened judicial system, daily imposition of anti-people policies by the Buhari dictatorship, and the grandest of them all: official corruption.
Inequality in wealth distribution is another important injustice worthy of igniting a revolution in Nigeria. I shall be craving the indulgence of my readers to cite a considerable portion of a 2017 report by Oxfam International published under the title: “Nigeria: Extreme Inequality in Numbers”. The report states:
“Economic inequality in Nigeria has reached extreme levels, despite being the largest economy in Africa. Nigeria is not a poor country yet millions are living in hunger. The government must work with the international community to get food and aid to hungry people now. But it can’t stop there. It must free millions of Nigerians from poverty by building a new political and economic system that works for everyone, not just a fortunate few.”
The Oxfam report went further to highlight the following numbers, which emphatically rubbishes any school of thought that Nigeria may not be due for a revolution:
1. Between 1960 and 2005, about $20 trillion was stolen from the treasury by public office holders. This amount is larger than the GDP of United States in 2012 (about $18 trillion).
2. Poverty and inequality in Nigeria are not due to a lack of resources, but to the ill-use, misallocation and misappropriation of such resources. At the root is a culture of corruption combined with a political elite out of touch with the daily struggles of average Nigerians.
3. Another consequence of the mismanagement of the nation’s resources is the high rate of unemployment, especially among the young. In 2016, between 12.1% and 21.5% of Nigeria’s youth were without a job.
4. In 2012, Nigeria spent just 6.5 percent of its national budget on education and just 3.5 percent on health (by comparison, Ghana spent 18.5 percent and 12.8 percent respectively in 2015). As a result, 57 million Nigerians lack safe water, over 130 million lack adequate sanitation and the country has more than 10 million children out of school.
5. The combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men - $29.9 billion - could end extreme poverty at a national level yet 5 million face hunger. More than 112 million people are living in poverty in Nigeria, yet the country’s richest man would have to spend $1 million a day for 42 years to exhaust his fortune.
As if the Oxfam report was not enough, Brookings Institution published a well-publicised research in June of 2018, crowning Nigeria as the world capital of poverty after Nigeria overtook India as the country with the highest number of extremely poor people in the world. The study also asserted that six Nigerians become poor every six minutes!
With these alarming figures, the need for a Nigerian revolution cannot be overemphasised.
On October 1, 2020 Nigeria marked its 60th independence anniversary; yet the country continues to experience a nosedive in every facet under the Buhari-led draconian regime. The regime has a penchant for flouting court orders, it is notorious for crushing human rights with remarkable impunity (peaceful assembly and free speech are now banned and have become criminal offences), it promotes lawlessness and has created a fertile ground for corruption to blossom. Amidst these anomalies, nepotism has unprecedentedly skyrocketed beyond the limit of the sky whilst democracy has been violently strangled and a reign of autocracy imposed on Nigerians through the back door. But that is not all, Nigeria continues to drown in a deep pool of economic quagmire and the regime has no political will or the faintest idea to salvage this precarious situation.
It must further be pointed out that since the inception of General Buhari/APC, the regime has had no blueprint with which to solve the myriad problems confronting Nigeria. Every day, the regime juggles and makes futile attempts to cover massive holes whilst awaiting the passage of the annual budget as well as the next electoral year. The transformational projects repeatedly promised through loudspeakers during the 2015 and 2019 political campaigns have all been disowned and the people have been dumped in the wilderness to either die or survive on their own.
Another worrisome development is the staggering debt profile that menacingly stares at Nigerians. Despite inheriting a N12.12 trillion debt upon assuming office in 2015, the Buhari/APC regime has catapulted this figure to an unprecedented N31.01 trillion after taking a series of questionable loans amounting to N18.89 trillion in just five years! These loans are taken under the pretext of “national interest” and are embezzled afterwards by those who obtained them, thereby endangering the future of the country and several unborn generations.
In addition to the above miseries, all the security forces trained with public funds to protect Nigerian citizens have been assigned to secure the private homes of political elites and their cronies whilst the rest have been placed on standby to arbitrarily arrest, maim or kill placard-carrying protesters for daring to demand for good governance. As a consequence, bandits, kidnappers, terrorists and all sorts of criminals have made Nigeria a nightmare, wreaking incalculable havoc on innocent citizens whilst the government’s only response has been a tea of fraternity with the same terrorists who have turned the country into a bloodbath.
Flowing from the above analysis, it has become abundantly evident that except a revolution happens, Nigeria will become a lost cause before sinking into the abyss without the slightest trace.
Consequently, whilst members of Nigeria’s oligarchy continue to celebrate the consolidation of their firm hold on power and the illegal accumulation of public wealth at the detriment of millions, oppressed Nigerians have an opportunity to set in motion the wheels of freedom from their internal colonisers. This can only be achieved through a series of revolutionary marches across the country – THE TIME IS NOW!