Iyinoluwa Aboyeji: Dr. Abati and the power of the powerless (Y! FrontPage)

What remains to be seen is whether these “children of anger” can work together to put Aso Rock on red alert again in 2015. This time for good.

A little over a week ago, Oluwaseun Odewale, an activist and personal assistant to the Ekiti State Government (more popularly known by his twitter handle @eggheader) was arrested with his colleague by state security forces for innocently taking pictures of a windmill project in Katsina.

It was interesting to see, play-by-play, how the machinery of state sponsored repression works – even when it is employed to combat serious society ills like terrorism. The police clearly seemed more interesting in arresting someone, anyone, than in solving a case of alleged kidnapping.

It was fascinating to see how in the few hours Mr. Odewale announced his arrest on twitter, the governors of two states, a special adviser to the President and the entire police command were immediately put on red alert.  It didn’t matter that he was illegally prevented from making the customary freedom phone call to a well-connected “oga”.

No doubt, very few people are so lucky and it certainly helped that Mr. Odewale was very well connected. However, the fact that just one tweet was enough to set off a game of political Chinese whispers up and down the corridors of powers is a sure sign that times have changed because of social media.

When the President’s chief propagandist attempted to save face by informing us Mr. Odewale and company weren’t actually taking pictures of windmills – even as the instagram photo of wind mills Mr. Odewale had posted only five hours remained defiantly stuck to Mr. Odewale’s twitter feed which was just a few clicks away. Dr. Abati was easily mocked. He told a lie he didn’t even have to.

One of my favorite political pieces of literature is The Power of the Powerless by Vaclav Havel. In the essay he analyses how the nature of communist regimes makes political dissidents of ordinary citizens. One line that stood out to me in this essay is when Vaclav describes to the reader why communist governments find it necessary to lie.

“Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to persecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.”

Although we are far from a communist regime, this government’s string of outrageous lies has generated a well of dissent that has strongly reflected itself through social media. It has succeeded in making online activists of the usually taciturn, and easy going upper middle class folk. The kind of folk who would rather restrict political dissent to loud beer parlor talk and are content to groan about PHCN for all of the 5 minutes the generator needs to automatically switch over.  The kind of folk who are content with a government that gives them nothing but public holidays. The kind of folk who have out of necessity built life sized cages for themselves so they can shut out the savage “jungle”.

This government’s response to this groundswell of dissent is to dismiss these citizens as “children of anger.”

What remains to be seen is whether these “children of anger” can work together to put Aso Rock on red alert again in 2015. This time for good.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (4)

  1. Observer trivialises the core message of the piece by magnifying an analogy…

    1. Yes, a politically loaded analogy which took up half of the article and insidiously denigrated a much better system than the dog eat dog ideology of the Nigerian economy.

  2. Hmm. Not keen on the anti-communist tone. Socialism and communism are exactly what we need in Nigeria. This class thing (upper class, middle class, ajegunle class) has brought us to the sorry pass we're at in Nigeria today. We need a fundamental change, a radical change.

    Young Nigerians like yourself should form a political party to represent them in 2015. Such a party or movement is long overdue … but you might to need to learn a bit more about socialism and communism.

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