Op ed

Become an Active Conscious Force in the Struggle for a Better Nigeria

Ugwu Hilary IkechukwuBlame Nigerians for their problems, not their leaders. Awkward? This might not be true as an ontological universal truth. However, it is a fact. As long as heaven and earth exists, the Nigerian leaders would never change Nigeria for good. The people (of Nigeria) will. Leaders are a minority. The people are the majority. Until we the people constitute an active forces of change and ‘disturb’ the world as we have always inherited it, Nigeria will continue to remain worst. The word ‘disturb’ is necessary as a revolutionary catalyst. Disturbance is a stimulus to change. All throughout history a constituted cabal of few people (minority) had often impressed their wills on the rest of mankind. Until when ‘the people’ are willing to say ‘enough is enough’.

This is the mathematics of change: knowledge (existential understanding), plus rising-up (revolution) equals change. But how can a people change their lot when they do not even understand it? If the masses of Nigeria have come to the full knowledge of the existential corruption, oppression, dehumanization and neglect they endure from the few minority who have constituted leadership, the country would have had great mass uprising for change long ago.

A case in point is this: James Ibori is under investigation for corruption. He was declared wanted and aught to be arrested. But the youths has taken to his defense, attempting to shield him from facing questions about his acts. Do these people even understand what they are doing to themselves. Whose money, if he did loot, has Ibori stolen. It is the people’s money. The same people that tend to prevent his arrest. Do they even get the fact that it is for their own interest that he should answer questions to the court? Perhaps not! We are often in denial of the corrupt action of politicians because they are from our village towns, from my tribes or states.

The consciousness of Nigerians and indeed so many African nations are yet to ‘awaken’ to the new world of liberation, freedom and development. While the entire humanity and history is converging and harmonizing by the process of globalization, our nation is still blinded by tribalism and its bigotries, a force that retards our nationhood. Only a handful of the people of Nigeria actually grasp the degrading state of socio-political and economic life the country had fallen in. The masses feel it, but they do not understand it. Hardships, fear, oppression and years of hopelessness have made Nigerians seemingly unaware that there could be something rightfully better. Few people actually understood the existential problem of police brutality and corruption. People are beaten and shot extra-judicially and nothing happens. It is a way of life. How many Nigerians understood what it means that their human rights are protected by the law court. What does law court stand for the millions of common Nigerians? Absolutely nothing.

We need a new kind of thinking in Nigeria. We need brave people who are morally ready to challenge the statues quo. It is only by challenging the oppressive establishments that the masses of Nigerians would for the first time begin to see that they could actually have a different and better life. If Martin Lurther King Jr. did not dare racial oppression and segregation, there were so many blacks in America that never even understood that they were living suppressed life. After all that was how it has always been from time immemorial. The people of Nigeria need a different king thinking and mentality.

Throughout the ages, men and women who think differently change the world. In a world that often conform to socially accepted behaviors, lifestyles and cultures, to think different means being odd or strange. And those who are perceived to be ‘strange’ within this description are often ostracized, rejected or even killed. This is why it is not surprising that most of the world’s greatest minds were treated badly when they were alive. But after their death, the same world that condemned them might begin to see the light of the truth of what actually they stood for.

No one can positively change the world without being a radical of a sort. Socrates, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Lurther King Jr, Mandela are few examples. These folks were adjudged radically dangerous by the world they lived in. Radical in the sense that they challenged the very essence of the social, racial, political and economic order of their times. These aforementioned orders had always existed before them as unchallengeable norms no matter how oppressive or unjust they were.

Challenging an existing social order is one of the most fearsome endeavor any human could embark on. We all know that the world is build on systems of injustice, oppression, lies and inequalities. And the powers that be are terminally toxic to new ideas, new creation, new innovations and most especially new world orders. In 5th/6th BC, Thales of Miletus tried to explain the world in the language of cosmology and physics. This did not go well to the world of his time. The Greek had always understood and explain the world in terms of myth and superstition. I could imagine what he went through trying to inform the people that lightning and thunders and sea waves could be explained with physics and not mythology. Similar to this is Galileo Galilei. He introduced a new scientific world view of the universe. This this not go well with the old ecclesiastical kerugmatik conception. Thus Galileo was seen as not just introducing something new to the old order but dangerous and was killed.

Socrates is known in history as one of the wisest men ever to live, he was a great moral thinker. His advocacy for justice, fairness and equality brought him down. He was seen as a thorn on the flesh of the Athenian political establishment–the statues quo–and for this reason he died by deadly poison called hemlock. How about Christ, he too challenged the statues quo. He stood for the poor and the oppressed and took the heat. He called those who maintain the oppressive statues quo: “You brood of Vipers”. And because of his open critiques of systemic ills, he was executed. Mahatma Gandhi single handedly stood up against the almighty imperial British empire. He was too daring, he was seen as a dangerous rebel and hunted down as one. The British wanted to keep the world at it was, Gandhi wanted the world to change. And this two forces clashed. Although Gandhi changed the world, he paid with his life.

Marin Lurther Kind Jr. did not want a world where racism and economic deprivation of obtains. He wanted a world where people are “judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skins”. The old establishment felt challenged. Their feathers were being ruffled. Lurther was the enemy. His ‘dream’ was not welcomed. He was shot. But he changed the world order as it always existed even before his time. Nelson Mandela challenged apartheid. The apartheid system was among the most brutal and dangerous to dare. Mandela was ready. No jail term nor death treats could debar him from attempting to change a world that was build on structural injustice.

The point is this, it takes morally upright persons who are ready to die to change structural injustice. Anything less than that is a share noise and waste time. Why do men and woman in history try to change the world (ills) instead of leave it the way it has always been. It is because as humans, we are endowed with the capacity for moral reasoning. We have the sense of universal right and wrong. Some believe this moral sense in endowed by a moral divine being(God) and others believe it is just a share product of societal upbringing and education. As human, we have moral consciousness. This obliges us to act not just in our own interest but in consideration of others around us or even the generation not yet born. This is one of the cardinal factors that separates humans from other lower creatures in a very unique way.

Nigerians need to vibrantly ‘disturb’ the old establishment. This can happen by the way of individual commitment to act as a moral agent of goodness and human progress. But it takes a heart to say stand for goodness and humanity when the gun of the old oppressive order in pointed at your head.


Leave a Reply