In 2011, the Arab Spring spread like wild fire. It started from Tunisia, known as Jasmine Revolution. On Dec. 17, 2010, a man named Mohammed Bouaziz, 26, was maltreated by Tunisian police after confiscating his cart and beaten to a pulp for not having a trading permit. In a bid to right the wrong, he went to local municipal office to file a complaint where he was ignored and leave to carry his cross. This led to setting himself on fire which metamorphosed to large scale protest of boiling frustration over living standards, police violence, rampant unemployment, and a lack of human rights that brought the country to its knee.
Like military coup, it was contagious spreading to other Arab states-of Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. In Egypt, on January 25, 2011, Egypt’s Police Day, it took another dimension taking the centre stage of world view. It was at Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo where Christian and Muslim showed unison of purpose to remove the lifelong oppressive government. Lest we forget, the first protest ever recorded in the history of mankind was at Sodom. As reported by Genesis(NCV) 19:1-2, when the angels visited and were ask to come in and refresh, in anger their protested openly saying “No, we will spend the night in the city’s public square.” It was in this prototype square the people of Egypt vehemently said “No” after weathering the storm of state sponsored violence followed by appeal to go back home for the government to hear their yearnings. With many failed attempts by the Egyptian Government to restore normalcy, on February 11, 2011, Hosni Mubarak resigned his presidency and handed power to the army to shape a new political and social order.
Back home, there has been record of protest but the mother of all was Occupy Nigeria (January, 2012) that took place in Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, Lagos against the Government policy of subsidy removal. It was carnival like with all speakers from all spheres of life climbing the podium-mostly for image laundering and show-off- throwing tantrums and casting aspersions on the power that be. Unlike Cairo, in Lagos, after five days of singing, dancing and as usual eating, only to go home for weekend and come back the following week to be frog-jumped by unhappy looking soldier men. It is pertinent to know that those who led and spoke at the Ojota rally are keeping quiet today; most of whom have occupy one government position or the other.
Fast-forward to 2017, a popular musician, Innocent Idibia, Popular known as Tu Baba, suddenly found his voice in the people to lead a nationwide protest against the present government policies. Let it be known that to protest is not the problem but the intension (ulterior or purposeful) of leading may not be clear. For every time, there is a purpose. In another way round, the way of manner in which the planned protest is totally welcomed even among the irredentists who claim not to be Nigerian is alarming. Sensing the move by the law enforcer to halt the planned protest, when push comes to shove, as the case has always been, the leads would enter their cars and leave the led behind only to be tear-gassed from canister gun.
It baffles when you see some able young and old graduates a.k.a professional students, hanging around our ivory towers fighter for one human right or the other with or without provocation, majorly to be relevant and at the end to go behind and collect their own share of office spoils from ‘constituted authority’. How shameful is this!
Was it not in this country some women without shame took to the streets to defend the ‘hard earned money’ that would have provided-if put judiciously to the system-a well-established learning institutions for their wards; that will equip our Hospitals and provided all other social amenities? Was it not in this country Senator Dino Milaye led a strong anti-corruption campaign against the previous government and gained relevance to assume the post of law-maker and start hobnobbing and defending corruption which he earlier abhorred?
Until we realise that occupying the streets may not be the answer when some will seat in the comfort zone of their offices and sponsor those who would suffer the end action of their corrupt deeds. We can only see a genuine human face rebellious against an oppressive government if the wretched ones like Mohammed Bouaziz of Tunisia, would say enough is enough! Until then.
But for now, despite the economic deficit, the trust surplus given to this present government cannot be compared to any government that have ruled in the past-both civilian and military. It is a known fact as the political scientists would agree, if the supports in a political system is greater than the demands, which means there is an equilibrium. This, ultimately connote a stable polity. Any protest now is an exercise in futility to burn body calories.
Let us face reality, these days that young artists have taken over the music industry, after been turbaned by Emir of Kano, an homage visit to Ooni of Ife and another to Esama of Benin, does it not sound to us that it is an intelligent move by Tu Face to begin his political adventure? 2019 is around the corner. Only the wise will read meaning to that. I am responsible for what I write; not for what you understand.
Remi Otuneye is a political analyst based in Lagos.