Meyungbe-Olufunmilade: Towards a Buhari-Bakare bloodless revolution

Posted on 19/02/2011

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At the presentation of his book – Colonialism in Africa: Ancient and Modern – our prolific constitutional lawyer and patriot par excellence, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, early July 2010, made a passionate call for revolution as the way out of the unending rot that is the Nigerian state as a prelude to a regime of transformational leadership. Excerpts of his exact words as reported by The Nation of July 8, 2010, is worth reproducing here at some length: “I want a wholesome transformation and this is where I disagree with T.Y. (Danjuma), I want a bloody revolution. We need a revolutionary change, a bloody one and those who survive will pick up the pieces. Corruption has eaten deep and everybody is involved, only a bloody revolution will remedy the situation. That was how France was saved. If you read about the French revolution, that was what saved France and Europe is what it is today because of the French revolution. I cannot see the country being saved other than through a bloody revolution.”
This submission by Nwabueze, a most temperate elder statesman not known for reckless outbursts, is something that should cause responsible Nigerians some deep reflection. Nwabueze premised his submission on the nature of the present ruling class in Nigeria dominated by the ubiquitous “patronage organization” called the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Of the National Assembly, whose under-500 members Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, recently revealed, consumes 25 per cent of federal budget overheads, Nwabueze said it is a “House of thieves,” lamenting that “what is going on there is terribly incredibly.”
In other words, what Nwabueze is saying is that in a situation where the principal agents of retrogression are the supposed leaders of a country and such persons are ensconced in a democratic cloak, thereby giving a stamp of legitimacy to their perfidy, while they would not permit peaceful change via popular elections, only a violent revolution becomes the only option for change if an enslaved people must free themselves and make progress. Voicing his own view on this same issue at the Nwabueze book presentation was another eminent Nigerian, equally unaccustomed to reckless outbursts, Lt. Gen. T.Y. Danjuma. According to him, “Revolution is exceedingly costly, it is a very costly means of transformation. I am an optimist as far as our country Nigeria is concerned. I believe one man in position of authority can transform our country, only that we have not been lucky to have such a man.”
If carefully dissected, the positions taken by these two Nigerian statesmen, Nwabueze and Danjuma, are the same essentially. They both agreed Nigeria needed transformation. They only differed on the type of revolution required to bring about the transformation. One felt the revolution must be bloody, emanating from below, shaking a rotten superstructure of corruption and retrogression to its very foundation. The other thought the revolution could be from the top – the initiative of a powerful leader – percolating down. It can even be argued that Danjuma didn’t say a bloody revolution as canvassed by Nwabueze is impossible. He merely said a bloodless kind is more desirable. Obviously, if transformation is possible via the two kinds of revolutions being canvassed, the preference of most people would be the bloodless kind. Why split blood to get what is achievable without blood?
What I may add to the debate is that indeed both kinds of revolutions are possible in Nigeria. The bloody kind is inevitable if the present crops of leaders being thrown up by the PDP continue to call the shots in Nigeria. We already see symptoms of what late Prof. Claude Ake would call “revolutionary pressures” across Nigeria. Like it or not, the rise of ethnic militias like the O’odua Peoples Congress (OPC), Bakassi Boys, myriads of Niger Delta militant groups, as well as fundamentalist religious groups like the Boko Haram, all of which are challenging the authority of the Nigerian state and contesting its legitimacy, are manifestations of deep frustrations with the extant social order coupled with a resolve to transform it by force of arms, which generally-speaking is the goal of every revolution. So far, the Nigerian state has been able to contain the revolutionary groups, including the Niger Delta’s which almost submerged it.
However, we are at a point where things might boil over decisively, except fundamental, progressive change germane to the aspirations of the mass of exploited and oppressed Nigerians is effected. Those of us involved in producing university graduates wonder what will happen any moment from now as year after year we swell the ranks of the unemployed in tens of thousands with sophisticated minds. Something just has to give way. To every action there must be a reaction. I foresee a situation where progressive elements within the military would align with their ideological compatibles in civil society to save Nigeria from implosion and disintegration as multiple ethno-religious militias contest for supremacy or seek to carve spheres of control for themselves as the Nigerian state teeter towards collapse.
The only detour from the bloody “revolutionary path,” apologies to Kwame Nkrumah, is to vote out the PDP-led federal government and its entire bad eggs from the corridor of power come the 9 April, 2011 presidential election. I almost would have said anything else is preferable to PDP because nothing can be worse than the PDP, an association of powerful Nigerians across ethnic and religious divides who see government purely as an institution for self-enrichment. Who says PDP has no ideology? Its ideology is malversationism, meaning a belief in the stealing of public money for private purposes. That is why we hear of trillions budgeted for this and that public projects but we never get to see anything done. That is the story of electricity, road, healthcare etc under this accursed PDP regime in the past 12 years. In the Southwest, PDP governors don show us pepper. That is why our people are savouring the fresh breath of change when PDP governors were made to restore the guber mandates they had stolen in Ondo, Ekiti, and Osun states, and even in our cousin state, Edo.
That is why our people in Ogun and Oyo states are counting the days by hours, if not minutes, to liberate themselves from a PDP wracked by internal war in their ambience, come April 2011 guber polls. That is why progressive-minded Nigerians from North to South, East to West, desirous of bloodless revolution, are eagerly waiting to troop out on April 9, to vote for the duo of former Head of State of War Against Indiscipline (WAI) fame, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, and Pastor Tunde Bakare, a say-it-as-it-is preacher, as president and vice president, respectively. This duo, considering other leading candidates and based on their track records in the public domain, as well as their worldview, constitute our best bet, our surest pathway to progressive, bloodless, revolutionary change. Buhari once did it as Head of State, instilling discipline and probity from top to bottom, all within 20 months (January 1984 to August 1985). It is no little tribute to his efficacy that policemen stopped asking for bribes as they do presently.
Any policeman that flouted what was then the norm at a checkpoint, for instance, instantly attracted the censure of passengers in surrounding vehicles in the form of a deafening shout of “WAI!” Since Buhari’s exit from power, the dog had returned to its vomit? How did he do it then? Simple. Leadership by example. Policemen refuse to be sermonised today by our so-called leaders largely because, being close to them as security aides, they know they are not practising what they are preaching. And our so-called leaders dare not clamp down on the erring ones among them because they lack the good conscience to do so. They fear the backlash.  It is high time things changed for good in this much-abused federation.
• Dr. Meyungbe-Olufunmilade teaches Political Science at Igbinedion University, Okada. Edo State.
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Posted in: Essays, Features, Politics