The roving demonstration by Nigerians around the world is a good thing. It is proof that there is still a juncture where Nigerians will rise up to reject abysmal failure, absurd whims and voracious greed.
While we celebrate this return to activism, after years of complicit acquiescence, we must not confuse it for what it is not. Soon after the Abuja demonstration, some Nigerians declared that the revolution had begun. Others claimed that in our own eyes, the New Nigeria had been born. The reaction of most Nigerians falls in line with that affliction that has been killing us all – low expectations.
It is low expectations that make us clap for a governor who pays workers’ salaries on time. It is low expectations that make us name a governor who repaired roads as the governor of the year. It is low expectations that make us include the Nigerian factor whenever we make plans, programs and projections. Low expectations make us celebrate mediocrity.
Nigerians are interesting people. We get excited very easily. We get tickled by trifles. We get bemused by buffoons. We get pillaged by priests. We are tormented by the thugs in our midst.
A demonstration does not make a revolution. While it may lead to one, it does not on its own make a revolution.
Some of those who pronounced the birth of a new Nigeria after one demonstration did so for a very selfish reason. They admire the gain but distaste the pain. They want change as long as it does not require personal action from them. Those Nigerians who are really in the arena, sweating, bleeding and screaming are not that naïve.
A revolution is not an intellectual activity. It is not something you can will into existence by standing on the sideline, even if you are cheering. Revolution requires action, commitment and sacrifice.
If you are not taking action; if you are not making serious sacrifices; if you are not committed for a long-haul, you are just a mere reactionary.
Initiating a revolution is like planning a coup. You want to change the dominant order of things. The beneficiaries of the current order will not sit back and watch you throw them out. They will put up fierce resistance because their way of life is threatened.
If you watch and see no ferocious pushback on their part, it could only mean one of two things: either they are stupid or they are sure that you are stupid.
Based on what Nigerians have gone through in the last fifty years, I am of the opinion that the Nigerian tormenters are not stupid.
If the tormenters know that Nigerians will just make some noise and go back to their normal lives, they will let a few demonstrations slide by. If need be, they will resurrect a dead president and get him to speak to the BBC.
We shortchange ourselves and the rest of humanity if we continue to be intimidated by the dream of transforming Nigeria. The ideals of Nigeria have not been tried and found wanting. They have been found difficult and, therefore, left untried.
There is no way of playing it safe in a revolution. If we want to get rid of the causes of our drudgery and our slavery, we have to put on our armor, storm the bastions and be ready to pay the ultimate price.
For many of our compatriots now cheering the demonstrations and heralding the emergence of a New Nigeria, it was the addition of Nigeria on the list of terrorist nations that caught their attention. It inconvenienced them. It shattered their comfort zone. It subjected their privileged status to the same provocations that ordinary Nigerians have always endured. For others, it was when the kidnappers at home turned their village mansions into the latest abandoned properties that they woke up.
In months to come, there will be more and more impediments placed in the path of those who worship the current order- those who think their lives are made. The irritation will get to those who believe we can wait for another 400 years to get an election right. The frustration will get to those who, for so long, thought that they were insulated from all the nuisances of a mortally flawed Nigeria. The upcoming hurdles will be a reminder that we have not signed the commitment, made the sacrifice, and taken the action, needed to create a livable and viable Nigerian nation.
The revolution waits for us, just like the morning ashes wait for an old woman who lives alone. It will wait until we drop our encumbrances and initiate it. Or until a quake shatters those things Fela said stop us from fighting for our rights. It may take one hundred years but it will come when it will come.