The idea behind last week’s planned revolution/protest might have been deliberately misconstrued, writes Olawale Olaleye
The dust raised by last Monday’s disrupted revolution march by a group, Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria, is yet to settle and may not settle anytime soon if recent development is anything to go by.
The group, which had a 2019 presidential hopeful, Omoyele Sowore as one of its conveners, had planned to protest against alleged ineptitude of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, while at the same time seeking a better living condition for the Nigerian people.
But that was not to be, eventually, as operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) had arrested Sowore a couple of days before the proposed protest date on the grounds that a revolution was inciting and therefore attracted the charge of treasonable felony.
Although the proposed march went on as planned and was also adjudged successful in some parts of the country to a very large extent, the police however descended heavily on civil and unharmed protesters over allegation that they were accomplices to a move to overthrow the Buhari administration surreptitiously.
Sowore has since remained in the DSS detention and is going to be there for another 45 days as a court recently granted a police request to keep him behind bars for that long, even though the DSS wanted longer days as the starting point.
Of course, one of the issues the proposed revolution march had raised was the concern about the definition of a revolution, a development that has also polarised the observing public along two schools.
While the government and their sympathisers see it as an intention to forcibly overthrow a legitimate government, those who had signed up for the march reckoned it was just a protest given a different name to depict the exigency and urgency of the situation at hand in the country.
Interestingly, many of the major characters in the current government had at one time either led or instigated major protests against the government of the day, including President Buhari and one of the leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Not only did they promise change in the lead up to the 2015 general election in particular, they promised the Nigerian people, a new lease of life, a movement believed to have caused the change of government in 2015.
But it goes without saying that the country had sunk further since the APC took over leadership in 2015 in every sphere of human endeavour. Even more disturbing is that it has continued to subdue other institutions of state in a manner that suggested it might be surging towards civilian dictatorship.
With scathing disregard to the rule of law and rudimentary rights of the citizenry, the seeming intolerance of the Buhari government is generally believed to have continued to grow each passing day, creating sincere worry, both home and away.
It is in line with this that the suppression and subsequent arrest of Sowore had reawakened the consciousness of the Nigerian people about Buhari’s gradual evolvement into dictatorship, compounded by a cabal theory, although yet to be validated, which seems to be power centre.
The presidency, including the security agencies knew that there was no way a Sowore or the planned protest could have toppled the government, they just decided to define revolution in their language, making such a trap for anyone that fits the bill as enemy of state.
The right to protest is inalienable, no doubt, and to do otherwise is an infringement, which unfortunately is becoming the past-time of the Buhari administration.
The arrest of Sowore was the height of intolerance of the government, which is being interpreted jocularly on the street as a design to get a replacement fore the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who was recently granted bail after almost four years in detention, even though he was yet to be released as at press time.
What the government has failed to realise is that a revolution that is decimated, whichever way they choose to understand it, is one whose time has yet to come. But whenever it does, no character can stand in its way, because it is often ferocious and untamable like a moving train.
Another thing the government must get used to is the fact that it should expect more of such reactions from the people, albeit spontaneous, because like sleeper cells, they might have been gingered to see the danger lurking around should they allow for a full blown dictatorship. And whenever they are determined, Nigerians can be irrepressible.
Government might have to improve its skills of dialogue, as this might prove more effective than the use of force otherwise its definition and understanding of revolution might be the new thing in the nation’s body polity with a more daring populace.