By Adebayo Abubakar
There has been a saying that, nobody consciously plan a successful revolution. Those who did never saw the end of it. Those who saw it, have little idea of how it was conceived.
In recent years, at most gathering where people discuss politics; after arguing back and forth, discussants threw up the submissive and defeatist lone of; revolution is the only thing that can save this country, Nigeria. But who will bell the cat? Who takes the lead?
Is it a Professor Wole Soyinka? Is it an Omoyele Sowore? Is it the child of that poor farmer in Òkè Ẹ̀rọ, Pategi, Odukpani, Ìjẹ̀bú Òde, Ayetoro Gbede, or the children of the privilegentia who live off the country’s patrimony? Is it the musical icon, Charles oputa, popularly known as Charly Boy? Is it the market women?
Those have been the question agitating the minds of those who subscribe to the idea of a revolution, and other critical thinkers. But only very few people have an idea of how a revolution evolves.
This question has been answered, in the past one week, as the youths spontaneously organised themselves into a formidable group of largely peaceful protesters.
It is an open secret that, there has been pent-up anger among the youths, majority of whom believe they have not been treated fairly, in the distribution of socio-economic opportunities in the land, against the ruling elites. In the midst of plenty, Nigerians continue to live in penury, while their leaders live large.
Life of opulence by these rent-seeking elites, coupled with the brutality, criminality and impunity that have come to define the notorious tactical squad, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, popularly known as SARS, triggered the people’s anger, especially, the youths which culminated in the campaign, #ENDFSARS, which ultimately led to the unit being disbanded, last week.
The emergence of the movement was so spontaneous that, up until this moment, it has refused to endorse any individual or a group of individuals, as its leader, meaning that, everybody involved in the protest is a leader, thus making it very difficult to arrest pockets of individuals and think, that would take the steam off the protest.
Initially, the protesters demanded, among other things, the disbandment of the squad, and the prosecution of all the erring officers of the command, and an improvement in the working conditions of the operatives of the Nigerian Police, including pay rise.
The federal government wasted little or no time in granting those demands; five in all. No sooner had those 5 demands been met than they came up with another seven.
The first five were later collapsed in to one of the new seven. As the day goes by, the momentum begins to gather across the country.
From Lekki to Ikeja, to Ilorin, Benin City, Awka, Onitsha, Gombe, Portharcourt, Ibadan Abuja, the seat of power.
In the midst of this crisis of legitimacy, some men of the Nigerian Police still manage to live up to their low standard of opening fire on protesters who are armed, only with their mobile phones, placard and “the will”, to end bad governance.
Some people have been questioning the motives of the protesters, after another twist that saw them demanding for the resignation of president Muhammadu Buhari.
Ordinarily, for a government that have high level of intolerance for the democratic values of fundamental human rights, among which is; right to freedom to have peaceful protest, the most tempting option in the face of rising tempo of the protest, is to reach for maximum force,as the president is preparing to do now,following his tacit approval for Buratai to go ahead with the planned crackdown on Nigerian youths.
This temptation began to be irresistible to President Muhammadu Buhari and the president or his advisers succumbed, as the Chief of Army Staff. Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai issued a press statement, through the army Spokesperson, Colonel Musa Sagir threatening to unleash his goons on protesting Nigerians, in an operation he code-named “Operation Crocodile Smiles”, a euphemism for a thinly-veiled threat to suppress people’s (protesters’) right and will to exercise their democratic right, to demand accountability from our elected officers.
Part of the operation Crocodile Smile 6, is a cyber-warfare operation, which the army said is “designed to identify, track and counter negative propaganda on the social media and across the cyberspace.”
I think General Buratai needs to be reminded that this protesters are more than Maazi Nnamdi Kanu’s proscribed IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra), on which he unleashed operation Python Dance.
This is a collection of youths from across the different States and regions that make up the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The army has on Sunday evening come out to denying going after #ENDSARS protesters.
Any miscalculation, however, by Buratai, might escalate the protest, beyond what an already-stressed army can cope with, no thank to the taxing campaign against Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, Banditry in the North West, and Famers-Herders’ clash in the Middle Belt.
In case he miscalculates and goes ahead on Tuesday, as he had threatened, to deploy his men to suppress people’s legitimate agitation for good governance; I am sure, he is aware that, the international community is closely monitoring events in the country, and would not hesitate to enlist him in the infamous club of “War Criminals”, like Slobodan Milošević of Yugoslavia, Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast, among others.
It is the view of this writer that, a deadly combination of “the spontaneity of the formation of the movement” and “a miscalculation from Buratai” might send the nation, down the road to Libya, Syria and Indonesia.
And guess what; no army, in the history of humanity has ever won against the will of the people to survive. Buratai, take note.
That of the protesting Nigerian youths will not be an exception.
Adebayo Abubakar, writes from Ilorin.