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Democracy and governance #OBIdient: Revolution or evolution?

By J.A. Ezihe
30 August 2022   |   3:40 am
The task of rescuing Nigeria is not a job for one man no matter how good and great his intentions. It requires a critical mass of like-minded people, committed with similar intensity and passion to the cause.

The task of rescuing Nigeria is not a job for one man no matter how good and great his intentions. It requires a critical mass of like-minded people, committed with similar intensity and passion to the cause. So this article is not about Mr. Peter Obi. I think it is reasonably clear what he stands for and how. This article is a followership conversation.

Something unusual is astir in the Nigerian political atmosphere. Turn and twist, there is no denying it! It certainly reminds me of 1993 which was the last time I was excited about the outcome of a Nigerian election. It has been dubbed a revolution. Others like Prof Pat Utomi perhaps more cautiously have described it as a movement. Is this movement the beginning of … a revolution … or an evolution? Does it really matter how it is described?  Or is this just a question of semantics?

For the records up until May 2022, I had gone into what over the years had become my classic peri-Nigerian election stance. An ostrich burying its head in the sand. Do not proceed to regale me with proverbs, sayings and arguments about ‘silence meaning acquiescence’ and ‘political apathy being as dangerous as tyranny’. I tabled all of these and more in various conversations with myself. The conclusion I reached was that I was not going to get my emotions entangled in a choice between plantain and boli or beans and akara (to quote Charly Boy).

So what has induced this ‘ostrich’ to unbury her head? For the first time in a long time … I see a factual and actual choice. In history and political science a revolution is a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system. Evolution on the other hand is the gradual process of change and development.  Is there merit in one over the other? What lessons can we learn from history?

The French revolution started off as an uprising against an unjust order but rapidly degenerated into a Kangaroo Republic. Tyranny of the monarchy was replaced by tyranny of ‘revolutionaries’. It took over a decade for France to restore a semblance of coherence in its political space. The Russian revolution of 1917 ushered in Communism. It is estimated that in 100 years of communism, over 20 million people were killed directly by the government and another 80 million died indirectly as a result of its policies.

More recently instigators of The Arab Spring envisaged regime change would usher in the end of corruption, economic stagnation, social injustice, human rights violation etc. As The Spring changed to Winter, young, disappointed Egyptians were seen asking ‘is this what we fought and nearly died for?’ History shows that with every revolution there is a forcible, destructive energy that is released which very often develops a life of its own. It certainly takes down. It does not necessarily build up. And therein lies the problem.

Evolution is what the Universe was doing long before us humans came along. Yes, it is more gradual, arguably less forceful but invariably successful. It is the reason Our Species survived. How we choose to name this movement and how this name then in reciprocity inspires and energizes us will be key factors in determining the outcome.  The protagonist at the heart of this movement has described himself as a man on a mission to rescue Nigeria. For the avoidance of doubt the soul of Nigeria is travelling with alarming speed towards the abyss and is in dire need of rescuing. Before it reaches the point of no return. I ask all who describe themselves as OBIdients. Are we strong enough to carry Peter Obi and Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed all the way to Aso Rock to commence mission Rescue Nigeria? Are our shoulders big and broad enough for the job at hand? Do we even have a clear perception of the task ahead and what it will demand of us?

Let us not deceive ourselves. The story of failure and destruction of the promise of Nigeria was never just a failure of leadership. It was also a failure of followership. We are once more presented with another opportunity. I ask all OBIdients – are we prepared this time as followers to … not fail? Before you start waving your PVC as evidence of your great commitment … I urge you to read the question(s) again.

Permit me to rephrase. The task at hand is that of birthing a new great nation. Akin to a pregnancy. A human couple desirous of having a child will have to wait an average of 40 weeks. Even if the woman gets pregnant immediately. For bigger mammals like elephants pregnancy lasts 22 months i.e. more than twice as long.  Contrast this with the gestation of a rabbit which is about 30 days. The birth of a country described at inception as the giant of Africa and which has now decayed to a shadow of its promise will not be an overnight endeavour. After pregnancy comes labour. Many women attest to labour being the most painful experience they have ever known.

The child is the reward. If real change is on the horizon, how prepared are we for the intensity and duration of the labour pains?

In the days ahead all who describe themselves as OBIdients will fall into one of 3 groups best described by this famous quote:
Small minds discuss people Average minds discuss places (events)
Great minds discuss principles (ideas)

It is useful to know which group people in your circle of acquaintance belong to (I am already compiling my list). What is even more important is to know which group YOU belong to.

Group 1: Fairweather OBIdients. Their allegiance is governed by tribal sentiments. Whether it be religious, tribalism, ancestral tribalism, professional tribalism etc. It just so happens that on this occasion the person at the centre of this movement aligns with their tribal prejudices.

To be continued tomorrow