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Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Wind Is Blowing

I wrote this as a Guest Blogger for Faith Ahiaba.

There’s something in the air.  A really strong wind it is. Like the biblical David it has taken on the largest of forces and weakened them in the knees. No one is immune to this wind, the wind of revolution. 

“The passive resistance has to come to an end. People must step out and make a difference. People must be willing to take a risk. We all have to rally and fight this abuse of privileges by our leaders. No more talking in bars and barbershops. The time is now. We are the only ones who can make the difference. Enough with all the talk. Action speaks louder than words.”

That was from a post on my blog on the 2nd of February 2010 about Nigeria, a country I love passionately. However, the snail pace at which its progress has crawled over the past years is adequate cause for concern. One of my long held beliefs is that Nigeria needs a Revolution in the mould of Jerry Rawlings in nearby Ghana

Jerry Rawlings, then a military officer led a group of junior officers in a military coup d’ etat against the incumbent administration. Like Adolf Hitler’s attempt to seize power with the Munich putsch of 1923, the mission was unsuccessful and they were arrested and imprisoned. Like Hitler too, the situation wasn’t entirely a loss. Their reputations soared and they were viewed as patriotic characters. That’s as far as the parallels with Hitler go.

Before his execution, a group of junior officers in the Army carried out their own coup. They were successful and installed Rawlings as their leader. This was in the year 1979. Rawlings might have taken a while in finding his feet but he was able to steer Ghana comfortably and organise the elections that heralded John Kuffour who takes the title of being arguably the best African President since Nelson Mandela.

The mother and sister of Bouazizi

Fast forward to 2011. The Revolution wind is blowing. It’s fast and furious. First off, The North African country, Tunisia. The ‘Tunisian Revolution’ was instigated by the suicide protest of a 16 year old boy, Mohammed Bouazizi as a way of addressing harassment from authorities. This inspired the people of Tunisia to protest their predicament at the hand of their leader, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The protests were so violent that Ben Ali fled the country. With the ousting of Ben Ali, an interim government has been put in place to ensure Tunisia’s progression

Ben Ali
Next stop, nearby Egypt. Citizens frustrated with the state of affairs under the 30 year tyranny of Hosni Mubarak sought to express their displeasure by protesting. The initial peaceful agitation has turned violent as pro government forces have tried unsuccessfully to contain it.

So far, the protests have extracted promise from Mubarak not to contest in September, forced him to appoint a vice president, replace the prime minister in a contrite move to assuage the people.  Whether this would be enough is the guess of current history.

If anyone ever doubted the much maligned principle of ‘People Power’, the events of the last days serve as evidence to contradict their views. One factor of major significance in influencing the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions is the use to which Social Media have been put. Employing such platforms as  Facebook and Twitter  to coordinate the resistance, these North Africans have been putting their views across to the world at large. They have won sympathetic ears in the U.S and Europe, who have joined their call for urgent reasons.

For Nigeria, the year 2011 determines what’s next and which direction the country’s headed. After so many years of military misrule, the democratic dispensation ushered in 1999 has faced some hiccups, particularly, the credibility of the 2007 elections. In April, this year, elections shall hold. How far Nigeria goes is dependent  on how the elections go. If they go the way of the 2007 elections, I’m pretty sure that the legion of Nigerians on Twitter and Facebook, would be willing to allow the wind that has blown North Africa into our shores. Our leaders better take note, the people are tired of flagrant disregard for due process, absence of internal democracy in the political parties. They will do all they can do to ensure that impunity ends in governance. If they desist, they stand the risk of being blown away by the wind of change.

 P.S I’m anti violence but do recognize that it could become the last resort if things don’t go the way they should. This is to clear up any misinterpretation of the Jerry Rawlings allusion as me supporting violence.
Also this piece was written before Mubarak’s departure as Egyptian leader and also before the wind reached Algeria.

Kindly check out: Aisha Modibbo

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