We begin this week with the recent media chat held last week by the President. Many Nigerians tuned in and attempted to ask the president many pertinent questions. Previously, I had secretly held hope that President Jonathan had the opportunity to be the person who we have been waiting for. I believed that he could do it and that he had brilliant people on his team who if given the right incentive could start an internal revolution. I thought that he knew what it would take to set Nigeria on the right course towards prosperity for all. He had the map; all he needed was to direct the country to the right destination. The Presidential Media Chat was the death of my hope for the Jonathan presidency. After claiming that “asset declaration” was not prudent, and that his cassava flour failure was a revolution in Agriculture and finally implied that the lack of economic opportunities in the North was not a cause of terrorism, it became obvious that he does not get it. He has no idea how complex the country he runs is and how endemic corruption and corner cutting has become. He is simply not the man for the job and while this is incredibly disappointing, it also gives us all the opportunity to drive our country to where it should be. The government has had its turn, and now it is our turn. If our government won’t, well then we will and here is how.
Last week I argued that Nigeria does not have a leadership problem, that the governance system was created to deliver the status quo and to find ways to temporarily pacify the millions of Nigerians who cannot partake in the distribution of the country’s natural resources. Nigeria’s problem is that of followership, Nigeria needs committed citizens, not mere clients of the state, and many people agreed with me. I concluded by calling for direct transfer of all public resources to the Nigerian people and that the government, should it need resources, must tax the money out of the pocket of real Nigerians. This is the way to make our country work; it is a way to overhaul this current system. The media chat clarified the urgency of a revolution in governance.
Egypt! The Egyptian revolution serves as a model for how the citizens of a country could collectively overhaul and update their country’s political landscape rapidly. It took a single man, and then very many actors who had a single goal and who took action collectively to bring down one of the most entrenched dictatorship in the world. At the time, I did not think they could do it. Even after Mubarak had left, I did not think they could keep it up, but they did and last week, Egypt voted for a true democracy. They found a goal and they went to their public square to get what they wanted, many had to die, many more were tortured but in the end the people won.
If Egypt seems so far away, and if their revolution seems not to apply to the Nigerian context, after all, a majority elected President Jonathan, I give you the “January Fuel Subsidy” protest. Within days of the government’s announcement that it was removing the last privilege of being Nigerian, thousands of Nigerians were out on the street protesting. After more days of reduced economic activity, of people out on the streets demanding that the fuel subsidy be reinstated, the government relented, at least partially. The people won.
In order to force the hand of the government to give Nigerians the money that rightly belongs to them, the people must come together and protest until they win and we must do it together. Labor and the usual suspect in the civil society cannot be trusted since they too are part of the governance system that has pushed 70% of Nigerians into poverty. Of course one cannot engineer a revolution. The most successful revolutions happen spontaneously. However, we can start the conversation that will bring people together under one goal, which is to give back to Nigerians, what belongs to them.