12 Feb Enough is Enough: It’s time we do more than protest.
I have always found writing about Nigeria to be a very difficult and frustrating task. How does one just bottle all the misfortune that some see as ‘our nature’ into a string of sentences? Can words ever do any justice to almost six decades of lateral growth?
Noo Saro-Wiwa attempts to do so in her book: ‘Looking for Transwonderland’, where she powerfully describes Nigeria as an unpiloted juggernaut of pain. For me, this description hits the bull’s eye when it comes to our recurring history as a nation. Putting this into perspective, I believe our nation, State after State, Republic after Republic has been led by leaders who seem incapable of taking charge or leading us in a positive direction. Rather a culture of passivity and self-interest has taken root in our political system, with our leaders being too focused on improving themselves and their bank accounts, rather than the living conditions of the average Nigerian who elected them into office. Consumed by the pursuit of self-profit they have left Nigeria operating on auto-pilot. In literal translation, working on ‘auto-pilot’ means working from routine or habit, without concentration or conscious thought. Now, this might sound like a harsh analysis of Nigerian leaders but looking at the situation Nigeria is in and has been for a number of years now, it is hard to come to any other kind of conclusion.
For so long the pilots of this nation have sedated its people. For so long we have let the programming embedded in our nation take over and engulf the core values that bring us together as a nation. Year after year, the pilots take over in the most predictable situations and repeat the same actions yet we remain sedated, we remain in a trance because we have been led to believe that our problems derive from issues such as tribalism or religious differences. They have nothing to do religion. They have nothing to do with ethnicity. They no longer have anything do with foreign powers. Our people do not want to wake up because this sedation made us so weak that we have accepted these excuses. This sedation has led to a state of passiveness, passiveness that some partisans call the ‘resilience’ of the Nigerian people.
Time and time again, we suppress the sound reflections of people and historical events that choose to fight this sedation. We tell ourselves, we will abolish these pilots in 4 years if they ‘mess up’ yet these same pilots have been our leaders since time immemorial, some of them continuing long after they have failed to serve their purpose. Even the word ‘Change’ has lost its literal meaning and become a form of deceit; a narcotic to dull the people into a deeper submission.
Sometimes I want to be optimistic; I want to believe that there will be a new generation of leaders, and a new set of followers who will set take steering wheel and guide us out of the dark clouds, but as the baton of leadership is continuously passed from one member of the class of 70’ to another, the question of ‘when’ impairs my ability to spot the silver lining.
It’s been said that the protests held yesterday are good sign, a sign that our ‘mumu don do’, but then again the fuel subsidy protests of 2012 was considered to be a sign that the people were refusing to be sedated, yet look at us five years down the line and the subsidy placed on fuel has been removed, and we are in even worse state. It is not enough to give the people something to fight against. There must be something to fight for. A future. A course of action, A direction.
I believe the key to democracy lies within the hands of the people, we must actively look beyond these political parties, and examine the candidates as separate entities from the parties that have produced them. We must not fall into the hands of the parties with the largest treasure chests or candidates with enough time to plaster their faces on all the walls of the country or make songs in which their names are in a constant cycle that causes deafness to our ears. We must start to look at the most innovative and not the most experienced because we have witnessed that even 30 years within the political world will not provide you with solutions. We must start to look at the candidates who do not possess a God complex, but understand that to be a leader in government means that you are a public servant, and as such the people, not them, come first.
We the people should not only serve as checks for our government but also check ourselves, our actions, the choices we make in our daily lives, how we impact those around us. A system is only as strong as its weakest link.
I believe that Nigeria is at a very crucial point in her history, and we the people have to decide if we are really ready to push for change or are happy to remain ‘resilient’.
Shey your mumu don do?
Co-Authors: Latunde Alayaki & Damilola Ayo-Vaughan
All photos courtesy of Damilola Onafuwa