Moses Ochonu: Democracy was good enough to remove Jonathan. Why isn’t it good enough for Buhari?

by Moses Ochouu

Selective outrage, situational activism, and hypocrisy are bigger threats to Nigeria than corruption is, for it is this trifecta that enables corruption to thrive and for the corrupt to escape recompense.

Yesterday, they praised protesters as heroes and patriots. Today, they call them foolish for daring to protest at a market in Nigeria’s federal capital city. They have essentially declared a part of the FCT a “no protest zone” except of course if the marchers are pro-regime protesters.

Yesterday, they called out the BS rationalizations of fanatical government supporters who sought to discredit anti-government protesters. Today, they are the BS artists, declaring Wuse Market a Buhari stronghold (how they know this for a fact when the market is a heavily cosmopolitan, ethnically diverse space no one will tell you), and grasping for silly excuses to avoid having to condemn the disgraceful actions of pro-government thugs that may have been sponsored by the parochial cabal in the presidency.

Yesterday, they themselves were marching and mouthing revolutionary slogans couched in glib pan-Nigerian rhetoric. Today, they say if it was up to them, anti-regime protests would be banned for the sake of peace. And their pan-Nigerian rhetoric is now gone, replaced by a defense of thugs who spewed ethno-religious bigotry while attacking citizen protesters. The thugs are unlettered, we are told, and the protesters brought the attack upon themselves.

Yesterday, they celebrated bloggers who challenged government at all levels without regard to the character or personal morality of said bloggers. Today, when you question why bloggers are being arrested, harassed, detained, and tortured, they ask if you know the person whose right to free speech you’re defending? They ask if you know how rotten the blogger is, as though the enjoyment of civic rights in a democratic society is dependent on individual morality.

When you tell them that you don’t care about the person but the principle, they say “Prof, Nigeria is different,” or “it’s like you’ve been away from the country for too long. Don’t apply American standards to us please; our society has not reached that level,” etc.

Yesterday, they called themselves pro-democracy advocates. Today, in order to justify the unfolding fascistic tyranny, they say that the best system for Nigeria is a “benevolent dictatorship” and not the white man’s democracy of full civic rights.

Yesterday, they thanked you for standing for the truth and for what was right. Today, they offer a conditional, qualified endorsement of what is right, saying that they support what is right but that it should be subordinated to “common sense.” Common sense is the new subterfuge for diluting or denying basic civic rights.

Yesterday, they condemned and marched against an increase in the price of fuel, denounced the slide in the value of the Naira, and fervently urged the government to meet all of ASUU’s demands, asking ASUU not to budge from its stance. Today, they say ASUU is unrealistic, unpatriotic, a tool of the opposition, and intent on sabotaging the government. They add that the big fuel price increase and other disastrous economic policies of this government are necessary pains before the big gain.

Yesterday, they wrote to you and sometimes called you to praise you for opposing the misrule of Jonathan and his honchos. Today, they write to you and call you to tell you to take it easy on this government and even try a little regional or religious (depending on your identity) appeal to solidarity. When you say to them, “so when you were praising my advocacy and criticism then, you didn’t mean it and it was only because the president at the time was a non-kinsman you disliked,” they reply feebly that they’re not asking you to stop criticizing but only to tone it down–whatever that means.

That is Nigeria. People you knew to be ardent defenders of what is right are today advancing alibis, cryptic rationalizations, specious evasions, and downright absurd justifications for things they condemned unequivocally and forcefully just two or three years ago.

It turns out that in Nigeria, few people are consistently committed to civic, democratic, and progressive ideals. For most people, activism is situational, convenient, and insincere. Even the revolution we saw in 2015 now appears in retrospect to have been a coalition of opportunistic, pseudo-progressive, and pretend patriots.

Once Jonathan was successfully removed, the democratic ideals they espoused and leveraged to oust him were jettisoned, replaced by the burgeoning fascism we are now witnessing.

Very depressing.


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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