Pix: Crowd at rally at Gani Fawehimi Park Ojota Lagos, During the 2nd day, Nationwide Peaceful Protest, On Subsidy remover by Fed Govt of Nigeria , Organised by Nigeria Labour Congress, in Lagos. Photo: Joe Akintola, Photo Editor

Protests help government to know what the people want, writes Ndidi Uwechue

A recent article on social media stated that the United Nations has projected that if Nigeria carries on in its course it will “remain the poverty capital of the world beyond 2050. That is 31 years from now. By then, Nigeria’s population would have doubled to over 400 million. This means that all the problems we have today would also double or triple”.

It is in anticipation of this awful future scenario, and in order to prevent a worst case situation that many Nigerians are looking for solutions, and that means changing the way we do things. That could be called a Revolution, or it could be called Reformation. It all depends from which angle you are looking at it. If you are looking at it from a middle class perspective, you could call it “reformation”. If you are looking at it from the perspective of the poor and disadvantaged, you could call it “revolution”. This is because of the impact that the same change would have on lifestyle and opportunities.

Nationwide protests organised by the Coalition for Revolution and Mr Omoyele Sowore have from the start stated that these are to be non-violent and their purpose is to bring in better governance and greater human rights. Their intent is not to overthrow the government, but rather to reform it internally. This is all quite clearly documented by the organisers via social media, and although a revolution can be violent, it can equally be non-violent. Examples of non-violent revolutions are:

In 1930 Mahatma Ghandi led a non-violent revolution called the “Salt March” where he and a growing crowd marched for about three weeks protesting at having to pay the British-imposed salt tax. The huge number of Indians that protested with Ghandi forced the British to give India her Independence.

During the 1950s – 1960s there was the American civil rights movement headed by Dr Martin Luther King Jr that successfully revolted against the corrupt antinubianist segregation laws of the USA. (Antinubianism is racism specifically against Black people).

In 1986 over one million Filipinos gathered peacefully in Manila singing songs and praying with their rosaries. Given their huge numbers the military decided not to harm this defenceless crowd and returned to the barracks. Within four days the people got what they wanted: the removal of President Ferdinand Marcos who had initially refused to step down.

It was ultimately in 1989 that the Berlin Wall fell and this brought about the unification of the two Germanys. Before that happened, citizens had staged very large demonstrations so the entire East German government resigned to appease the people.

We really ought to get serious about our situation, and face it. Local and international observers are united in saying that a major calamity is awaiting Nigeria if things are allowed to continue to lag. Change, transformation, reform, revolution – call it what you will, but a new direction is obviously needed if we are to rescue ourselves and the future generations from a very bleak future.

This is therefore an appeal to those in authority at federal and state levels, including our security services to use their positions not as Lord Frederick Lugard described the typical African as wont to do, but in a way that will make the present and future lives of citizens better, upholding justice and human rights. In successful democracies such as we find in the West, citizens often go on protests as this is a sign of a living, functioning democracy. Protests help government to know what the people want, then serve them better. Protests are a natural, healthy response and a sign of life. Protests are evidence of a living, functioning democracy.

Uwechue, a retired Metropolitan (London) Police Officer and a Pro-Social Advocate, wrote from Abuja