“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” Dorothy Day
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
At the height of the Arab Spring revolution that deposed many sit-tight leaders across the Middle East such as President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, the revolution became a subject of debate in Nigeria as to whether the Nigerian youth could latch on to this fastly growing movement and demand change in their own country.
I remember vividly that Dimeji Bankole, Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, stated grandiloquently that revolution is impossible in Nigeria. In direct stark contrast the current Speaker of the House, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal declared that a revolution is overdue and that it’s the only way to address corruption that has become endemic and intractable in Nigeria. And most recently, precisely on the 26th of November, the Nigerian Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, while expressing his concerns about the state of affairs in Nigeria, declared that only a revolution would address the imbalances in the system.
Some burning questions that require burning answers comes to mind. Can there ever be a revolution in Nigeria? Why are leaders benefitting from the current decadence in the system calling for a revolution? Or can we prognosticate Nigeria into a revolution? Although to some a revolution is past due in Nigeria given Nigeria’s culture of hopelessness, helplessness, frustration, injustice, crushing poverty, marginalization of the minority ethnic groups, rampant corruption, lawlessness, joblessness, and general disaffection with the ruling elite, is it even possible?
Historically all the reasons that have sparked revolution throughout the ages are well and alive in Nigeria, but I remain in a state of dilemma as to the occurrence of a revolution in the country. because of the pervasiveness of the defeatist ideology of suffering and smiling. In 2003, Nigerians were voted as the happiest people in the world; actually not because the standards of the living of the people was great, but simply because my people are endued with the grace of smiling in deplorable standards of living. The Nigerian populace is tremendously blessed with the gift of long-suffering as such it’s almost like our pain threshold has no limit.
The experience of Denmark remains a living testament to worthwhile happiness derived from a good standard of living as it was recently crowned the happiest country in the world. The key factors identified in the World Happiness Report that gave Demark the victory were (1) A large GDP per capita, (2) Healthy life expectancy at birth, (3) Lack of corruption in leadership, (4) Citizens have a sense of social support, (5) Deep sense of freedom to make life choices, and (6) A culture of responsibility to one another. All of these factors were alien to the Nigerian experience in 2003 and very much so now.
There are limitations to the concept and practice of human endurance. It’s hard not to imagine a revolution in a country where 50 million of its youth are unemployed, where corruption has Boko Haramed (destroyed) the destinies of millions, and the reasons aforementioned. With all these I join the list of those calling for a revolution in Nigeria.
But the question is what kind of revolution do we need in Nigeria? I am of the opinion that we need the type of a revolution that will make a sanguinary revolution less necessary. I do not subscribe to the Arab Spring revolution type of revolution in Nigeria. The Arab Spring revolution in Egypt put an end to the 30 years reign of Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship in just 18 days, and installed Mohammed Morsi, the first democratically elected President in Egypt’s history. Unfortunately, Morsi too became a victim of the same revolution that brought him into power. Unfortunately, nothing has really changed in Egypt because the revolution only attacks the effects rather than the causes, change remains impossible.
The Egyptian revolution may have successfully destroyed the corrupt government of Hosni Mubarak and that tyrannical government of Mohammed Morsi, but the revolution failed to destroy the systemic patterns that produced that corruption and tyranny in both governments. As such the same patterns are manifesting in the current military administration that overthrew Morsi.
We need a revolution in Nigeria that will bring about a transformation of human spirit and mentality. A revolution that will lay the much needed moral and ethical foundations that will make civilized society possible in Nigeria, the kind of revolution coming from the grassroots aimed at bleaching out the stain of corruption, and greed that has ravaged the soul of Nigeria at all levels. A revolution that will bring about a deep change that begins with individuals, a revolution that will usher in deep personal change capable of giving birth to a revolutionary personal ethical leadership in all Nigeria. We need that radical revolution that calls for a fundamental transvaluation of virtually all the accepted values in the Nigerian society.
As it is, an average Nigerian that complains about the system does so not because they are genuinely concerned about changing the system, but because he/she is not part of the current system looting the national treasury. And if by chance such a one is elected into a position of authority they will perpetuate the same vicious circle of corruption, and in most cases worse than the people he/she once condemned.
For Nigeria to experience any change, such change will have to come from the bottom up, and not top down. I mean the type of change that will be ushered in by the masses themselves, and in order for the masses to have the moral standing to do so they themselves must go through the process of deep change. Deep change is a kind of revolutionary change that begins with self. Nigerians at all levels, and of all social strata of the Nigerian population must become the change they intend to see. Until Nigerians at the grassroots first purge themselves of corruption and greed the dream of a better Nigeria will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued, but never realized.