By Adewale Maja-Pearce
What constitutes treason in the Nigerian context? I ask because the question was raised by a couple of people following my last blog in which I called for civil disobedience to end this farce called government in Nigeria.
The alternative is the violence being perpetrated by the Niger delta militants on the one side and Boko Haram on the other, although I am loathe to bracket them together. As I remarked in an earlier blog, the rage of the former is more than understandable, whatever your take on armed resistance; the latter are merely mindless, even as the federal government offers amnesty to both as proof of its own impotence.
As I also said in an earlier blog, the militants only targeted soldiers, not Sunday worshippers celebrating Christmas, a time for peace if ever there was one.
I don’t believe in violence. I especially don’t believe in the solipsism that claims it as a means to an end given that the means are as likely as not to dictate the end, which is even more bloodshed, the revolution devouring its own. One need look no further than Somalia, as General Buhari continually reminded us during his last presidential campaign.
At the same time, what currently subsists in Nigeria is intolerable – an affront – and must be stopped. Indeed, that it will come crashing down about all our ears, and soon, was never in doubt, which is why we, the people, must take matters into our own hands, if only to minimise the fall-out. For that reason, I suggested we stop pretending that a government exists in Nigeria in any commonly accepted sense.
What does exist is rule by the Mafia, which is why the Godfather films are so popular, available from any street vendor, although the idea of Goodluck Jonathan as Don Corleone is somewhat surreal but never mind. It is not Jonathan himself but the coterie around him who are evidently calling the shots.
That this Mafia will fight back is a given. What is at stake, after all, is the free money from the Niger delta which they blow as though it were their personal asset. We all know the stories about the girlfriends who regularly fly first class to shop on Oxford Street as if they couldn’t get the exact same goods in Balogun, or the children who must attend Eton and Harrow in order that they might become black Englishmen, the better to pose before the natives back home with their fancy accents. What price independence?
But my concern is not with the government so much as it my fellow Nigerians. As I also wrote in the earlier blog, we seem loath to believe that things are as bad as they are and so keep hoping against hope that they will suddenly improve, and that our federal legislators, for instance, will suddenly be seized by an attack of collective conscience and vote themselves a pay cut.
Then again, pigs might fly, or so many appear to think, which was why an influential church in Lagos saw fit to invite President Jonathan to deliver the Easter Sunday sermon and then clapped when he prayed that God would solve the electricity problem we created in the first place and which only we can solve. Or why my fellow residents in my close – just fourteen buildings – resisted the suggestion that we unilaterally refuse to pay our NEPA bills in order to underline our disgust at their antics instead of just griping about it, as is the Nigerian way.
As for the proposed mega-party, which is all the talk now, only the most hopelessly naive would imagine that anything good could come out of recycled politicians – Buhari, Tinubu, Ikimi – who showed themselves no different from the current gang now in power when they were themselves in positions of authority.
So all that remains is to confront the monster that has made nonsense of the independence that has turned out to be even more oppressive than the denigration it replaced. This should go beyond refusing to pay our utility bills for services we hardly even get in the first place, to boycotting the 2015 elections on the grounds that trooping out to vote only serves to legitimise a process that is past remedy.
Besides, the system is already rigged in favour of the Mafia by excluding independent candidates, as otherwise recommended by the Uwais Commission. Nigeria may indeed be dominated by the Big Three but that still leaves roughly half the population – all 80 million of them if we are to believe the last census – bundled together as ‘minorities’ without effective representation, but that is the subject of another blog.
With 2015 in view, we need to start organising now. Our great asset, of course, is the social media that played such a significant part in the Arab Spring, hence this blog. All it requires is for everyone to re-post this on their facebook and twitter accounts in the hope of starting a mass movement. Call it Reclaim Naija because true revolution begins with interrogating the language itself, in our case a name – Niger River, Niger area, Nigeria – imposed by the colonialists who dreamt up the fiction which has now become the nightmare we are all struggling to escape, some by fleeing into the desert, most by praying to a God who is doubtless merciful but must wonder why so many have allowed themselves to be chanced by so few.
So such at any rate, is my modest proposal, but does it amount to treason? Not in the usual sense of advocating the overthrow of the existing order by force of arms but, well, advocating for its overthrow all the same. We shall see. This particular administration prides itself on following the rule of law, as the president’s parrot ceaselessly tell us but, well, pigs might indeed fly.
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