Activism would even be okay where activists are actually able to offer practical options and alternatives but there is more often than not a sad reality of a group just saying what they do not want rather than make demands based on what they want.
Over the years activists have always followed the trail of government. Government makes a move and activists quickly make a counter move. Government it seems dictates the rules and the ways of the game. Agent Mahone in one of the episodes of Prison Break said “the thing about following a trail is that you will always be behind.” This is very much true when it comes to the cat and mouse game between policy makers and activists. The latter waits for the former to make policy mistakes, and then goes to town with what is wrong with the policy. This in itself is not wrong but it must not be the default mode of operation.
Activism would even be okay where activists are actually able to offer practical options and alternatives but there is more often than not a sad reality of a group just saying what they do not want rather than make demands based on what they want. Most people who think they are activists are in the logical definition of their actions, Reactivists. They are naturally wired to react. Activism works! It has helped to improve lives especially when it is not just about talking and challenging the establishment. It must be strategic; activists by themselves must demonstrate competence and must always remember not to get sucked in activities when this should be about results and people. Beyond being activists, we can be Proactivists. This is from the word “proactive.”
There is a necessary need to move from the era of “we no go gree” activism to “this is what we want and this is how we want it” pro-activism. Activism has to cease from any-where-belle-face anger to calculated and effective thought and action dissemination. We must be more strategic than ever, and engage the tactics of the world’s best tacticians. If we believe are all knowing and full of ideas, then we stand little or no chance at learning new ones. If you are full, how then are you able to take in new ideas to re-invent yourself to get better? We need to re-invent activism and I think proactivism should be the new order.
Proactivism finds its root in the word proactive. In its full sense, it is actually pro-reactive i.e. acting in anticipation of future problems, needs or changes. This is the making of visionary men and women, who are forethoughtful, who care so much about today that they are looking at solutions to tomorrow’s questions and challenges. Proactivism is a reaction but it is a reaction to what is yet to happen. This may sound counterintuitive but it does make sense. I have been working on Nigeria’s oil and gas related issues and have started looking into challenges Nigeria would have to deal with tomorrow that are not real and topical today. One of such is the coming years when Nigeria will certainly suffer these two fates; the oil will lose value because of increasing availability of alternative energy and then it will eventually finish.
Today, these are remote and hardly have any bearing on the actions and spending of the government. Despite new numbers from Nigeria’s biggest petroleum client the United States showing that its dependence on Nigeria’s oil had plunged to 360 thousand barrels from 810 thousand barrels year on year July 2011 and 2012, nothing in the ways and actions of the government shows they can read the hand writing on the wall.
Proactivism is about bringing these impending realities to the fore and proffering ideas on what the government could do to avoid economic shocks. That explains my current efforts at highlighting the future of Nigeria’s energy, its challenges and possible solutions. This for me should be the path of Activism 3.0. Redefining the game and leading policy makers along the path of development. For example, we as civil society people have said we do not want the new Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), where is our alternative document?
PS: This is part of a paper I presented today at the Social Media Conference in Accra Ghana with the topic “Effective Policy Change through Digital Activism”.
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