The Misconception Of Revolution By The 21st Century Nigerian {EXPERT OPINION}

The word ‘revolution’ is defined by the dictionary as:

  1. A complete change in ways of thinking, methods of working, etc.
  2. A time of great, usually sudden, social and political change, especially the changing of a ruler or political system by force.

That having been said, I tend to wonder why the look of worry comes upon the face of the

Nigerian in this century whenever the word ‘revolution’ is mentioned. Why our hearts give way to doubt and cowardice whenever the horn of revolution is blown, and why fear overshadows us like a demon of the night as soon as our thoughts start sowing revolutionary seeds in our minds.

Could it be because of the word ‘force’ used by Longman to define this term? Or could it be due to our lack of understanding of the word —revolution? I would go with the latter. And by the end of my submission, I believe you will as well.

The term ‘revolution’ has its roots from the Latin word ‘revolutio’, meaning “a turnaround”, and was originally applied to the motions of the planets. The famous Copernicus called his great treatise which displaced the earth from the center of the universe, ‘On the Revolutions of Celestial Bodies’. From astronomy, the word passed into the vocabulary of astrologers, who claimed the ability to predict the future through the study of the heavens. Sixteenth-century astrologers serving princes and generals spoke of “revolution” to designate abrupt and unforeseen events determined by the conjunction of planets —in other words, by forces beyond human control. Thus the original scientific meaning of the word, conveying regularity and repetitiveness, now signified the very opposite when referring to human affairs: the sudden and unpredictable.

The word was first applied to politics in England in the years 1688-1689, to describe the overthrow of James II in favor of William III and Mary. As the price for his crown, the new king had to sign a Declaration of Rights by which he committed himself not to suspend laws or levy taxes without parliamentary approval, thereby inaugurating a process which would end in the triumph of popular sovereignty in England. This was “The Glorious Revolution”, affecting only the country’s political constitution. However, after the French revolution of 1789, “revolution” henceforth began to refer to grandiose plans to transform the world, and no longer to changes that happened but to changes that were made. Three hundred and thirty three years after the glorious revolution, the term ‘revolution’ has become synonymous with rebellion for 21st century Nigerians. And one has only the continuous mass unenlightenment by government controlled media to thank for this misnomer. A misnomer I earnestly seek to correct through my submission.

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The Longman dictionary defines rebellion as ‘an organized attempt to change the government or other authority using violence’. I would thus like to point out at this juncture that history has in its ever infinite library, accounts of non-violent revolutions, which include; the Peaceful Revolution of 1989 in Germany, the People Power Revolution of 1986 in Philippines, and the Rose revolution of 2003 in Georgia, just to name a few. However, in these very same history books, it has been proven that whenever the oppressive class of any society refuses to give the oppressed of that same society listening ears in their peaceful requests to be treated with the dignity which the divine creator bestowed on all humans —as was the case in the Haitian revolution of 1791— then a violent request is only but a natural response of human nature; prompting the agelong philosophical question: can self-defense be termed violence?

It is therefore important to note that the making of a revolution to be violent or non-violent lies entirely in the hands of the oppressive class —to buttress the scientific phrase; action begets reaction. Another point to note is though revolution brings about a positive turnaround in the socio-political development of the given society, rebellion on the other hand doesn’t necessarily achieve the same result. This is evident in the countless coup d’états observed in most African countries. Coups which were nothing but tools in the hands of certain sects within the oppressive elite class, used to settle poli-economic differences without any intention to change the status quo or better the peoples’ standard of living.

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Bearing the aforementioned in mind, I choose to define revolution as a fundamental turnaround or change in political power or organizational structures that transform socio-economic and cultural structures as well as political institutions for the better. It excludes civil wars, coup d’états, revolts, and rebellions that make no effort to transform institutions or the justification for authority through institutional arrangements. And it is my belief that a society where the term “revolution” is being mentioned time and again —be it a call for overall governmental restructuring, or a change in national leadership— is unprejudiced evidence of the frustrated state of mind of the people with their oppressed socio-political situation.

As an African living in Nigeria, we are faced with the harsh reality of corrupt leaders, brutal policemen, insecurity, extortion by political and religious leaders, poor infrastructure, poor health care systems, failing educational systems, epileptic power supply, a judiciary that exchanges justice for money, a legislature that passes laws which favor only the elite class, and an executive that considers the masses as human beings only when elections are near. This hints at the fact that the three arms of government are just a committee set up for managing the common affairs of the elite class. According to Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels “the essential condition for the existence and for the sway of the oppressive (elite) class, is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage labor.” Indeed this is true, as wage labor rests exclusively on competition between the oppressed laborers, and until the people realize and understand this fact, they will remain bound under the economic chains of the elite.

As at the time of my writing this article, over N37.367 billion is being expended on servicing 47 former governors from 21 of the nation’s 36 states in pension payments and provision of houses, staff and motor vehicles replaceable between three and four years. The pension payments and other entitlements drawn by the governors are irrespective of the prescription of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, providing 300% severance for the governors as stated in the Certain Political Office Holders and Judicial Officers Remuneration Act. Under that act, former governors are, like lawmakers, entitled to

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300% of their basic salary of N2,223,705 amounting to N6,671,115 as severance pay. These outrageous amounts are being paid as pensions to the elite class in a country where civil servants haven’t been paid for months, doctors and teachers of public institutions are being owed millions of Naira, and retired workers belonging to the oppressed class (the masses) are yet to be paid their pensions.

Nigeria is a country blessed with abundant mineral and human resources. Sadly, our governance system hasn’t been able to utilise these resources to its optimum potential, leaving the people to pay the ultimate price for the country’s national mismanagement. No other time in the history of our great nation has the need for a revolution been more apparent than now. And as we draw nigh unto another election season —with its usual political rhetorics, propaganda, and sycophancy— it is imperative we bring forth our individual whispers of revolution from the shadows and combine them into a nationwide clarion call, demanding in unity a turnaround to the current system of governance. For it has not only failed our generation, but is well on the verge of failing generations to come.

My ardent hope is that those who rule the affairs of our country heed this call, so the people aren’t forced into their next natural response; rebellion, which will only succeed in drowning the country in a sea of anarchy and conflicts. I end my submission with the wise words of a budding Nigerian poet; if monkey de work, and baboon de chop, then soon monkey go reason monkey, and together dem go gather kill baboon chop.

Written By: Gabriel ‘ArchAngel’ Ehijie

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