by Oreoluwa D. Babatope.

Policy Areas: Social Change and Social Justice.

Recent happenings around RUGA, Fulani Herdsmen, Boko Haram, kidnappings, abductions, armed robbery and killings, amongst others, point in only one direction – an impending revolution. With close to half of our people living below poverty line of less than N600 per day and with an estimated 6 people falling into this bracket every minute, the dream of pulling majority of Nigerians out of poverty in a short while, has remained but a pipe dream. Revolutions all over the world are started when the elite pushes the oppressed to a point where they have nothing more to lose. If steps are not taken to avoid the revolution, Nigeria’s case will be another chronicle of a death foretold.

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The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power.” Wael Ghonim.

Historically, revolutions have shaped societies in powerful ways. The trajectory of various civilizations has been altered or shifted as a result of revolutionary movement. Tales of struggles against and reliefs from oppression, as well as quests for justice and freedom cannot be told without reinforcing the importance of exercise of people power. The American, Russian and French revolutions are some of the most notable ones in history resulting in overthrown governments; institutional change; and change in social orders. The 10-year long French revolution, where many social and political reforms took place, set a precedent in the global socio-economic models with the monarch being replaced by a democratic republic.[2] The ideologies of Kant and Hegel amongst other philosophers, played important roles in the formation of 18th to 20th century revolutionary thought.[3] The idea that a revolution could help Nigeria is not far-fetched, in light of John Milton’s belief in revolution as the right of society to defend itself against abusive tyrants and create a new order reflecting the needs of the people.

The persistent situation of Nigeria has given rise to conversations, articles and opinions on an ‘impending revolution.’ It appears that the general perception is the possibility and necessity of a revolution in Nigeria that will change the political and social state of the country. Discussing the political awakening of the Nigerian youths, Chimamanda Adichie remarked that the violence, deep rot of a patronage system and the lukewarm participation of a jaded middle class, is leading to slow-burning but intense awakening of young people.[4] She opines that “it might yet be the making of a great revolution.” Dissenting views on the possibility of a revolution are mostly based on the apparent disunity in Nigeria, as a result of the different classes, tribes and ethnic groups. What is the common goal? Arguing for a revolution is one thing; doing so with sincerity and unambiguous definition about what the revolution would mean, whilst recognizing the political-economic interest of the people, is another.[5] Though a common strand, poverty is not enough to serve as a unifying factor. Even religion, a great unifier of humankind, cannot be relied on here due to the different beliefs.

Analyzing the different stages of a major revolution, historian Crane Brinton commented on the period of ‘optimistic idealism’ after the government is overthrown, in which the revolutionaries engage in much ‘perfectionist rhetoric’.[6] It is during this phase, which does not last very long, that practical governing decisions have to be made. Where the goal or purpose of the revolution is not clearly defined, disputes arise in the decision-making process with different factions desiring to prevail and maintain its authority. Usually followed by the use of force, the return of the form of government overthrown by the revolution is almost inevitable. Hence, a vicious cycle is born. Is the revolution to bring down oppressors, or to become oppressors ourselves? Is it to lighten the burden of tyranny or shift it to another shoulder? Before we begin to advocate for a political and social revolution, a revolution of our minds-principles, opinions, sentiments and affections-is necessary.

If we glance at the most important revolutions in history, we see at once that the greatest number of these originated in the periodical revolutions of the human mind.” – Wilhelm Von Humboldt.

 

[1] This article is taken from ThisDay (Online) News. Available at: https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2019/07/08/talking-about-a-revolution/. Date: 08/07/2019.

[2] Kiprop J. (2018, May 28). Society: The 10 Most Important Revolutions In History. World Atlas. Retrieved from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/the-10-most-important-revolutions-of-all-time.html

[3] Michael Ray (2016, May 16). Politics: Revolution. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/revolution-politics

[4] Adichie C. (2011, March 16). A Nigerian Revolution. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/16/nigerian-revolution-young-people-democracy

[5] Ibrahim K. (N.D.). Talking About the Nigerian Revolution. Retrieved from http://www.gamji.com/article8000/NEWS8135.htm

[6] Michael Ray (2016, May 16). Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/revolution-politics