Where are the fiery activists?
DURING the difficult days of the struggle for the validation of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential elections that eventually culminated in the enthronement of the current democratic dispensation, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) dominated the socio-economic and political landscape of Nigeria, galvanising the population towards non-violent actions against military dictatorship.
It was indeed a period when ominous dark clouds hung over the nation as many of those in the front line of the struggle lost lives and limbs and many more were hounded into exile while development was grounded to a halt.
Through the NGOs which included the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) headed by Olisa Agbakoba SAN, the Campaign for Democracy (CD) which was initially headed by the late Dr. Beko Ransom-Kuti and later by Joe Okei-Odumakin and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), the whole world was made to see, in graphic details, the human rights abuses of a regime that was suppressing a people’s desire for democratic governance.
The actions of these organisations who were in the trenches alongside the labour unions, other social critics and statesmen in the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), brought to the fore, the importance of leadership pedestal for a people desirous of socio-political change.
Although these groups played such a big role in the entrenchment of democracy, they are playing little or no role in its sustenance leading many Nigerians putting a question mark on their whereabouts and the motives of some of the earlier players who are still visible in the country’s political space.
The tribe of these activists seem to have gone into extinction and only a handful of them made feeble attempts lately, to contribute to political discourse when they are supposed to be watchdogs of politicians who are the beneficiaries of their struggle by ensuring that what they prodded Nigerians to fight for is what they are actually getting.
They seem to have shrunk from being NGOs to NGIs (Non-Governmental Individuals) as most of the fiery players of old have been turned into apologists of government who are now seen roaming the corridors of power at odd hours abandoning the ladder of popular support that brought them to limelight.