by Uche Briggs
Constructive engagement of government by civil society is the only way we can create the desired society in Nigeria. In a society like ours, when civil society fails what results is bedlam; the deafening silence that empowers political office holders, and even the civil service, to endlessly pillage our land.
I once spoke about the perils of indifference in the young generation. However, for every person who desires to engage government, there should be rules that guide the conduct and structure of such discourse. It is all too important that anyone who engages government must firstly be the captain of his own ship before holding leaders accountable.
It would be crucial to note that the word ‘activist’ has been loosely thrown around lately, a crime I am guilty of. The context in which this word, which many term derogatory, is used here assumes a different meaning.
Our political landscape is evolving and building on the 2-step flow model of communication, certain people with active participation, largely online, are working their way to become influencers of opinions. These are my ‘activists’. So an Omojuwa, a Chude, an Ekeekee or a Rosanwo who people have come to respect their opinions are activists in the context of this article.
That settled, here are 4 kinds of activists Nigeria can’t afford:
Armed with hackneyed phrases and simply impracticable solutions, obtuse minds revel in their own hype and make remarks that incite people into false belief. This trend is just as damaging as bad governance.
The sweeping generalizations must make way for more insightful analysis and an appreciation of the problems that face Nigeria. Beyond this, it is important that knowledge helps us test ‘every spirit’ and as a result, demystify the self professed saviors of Nigeria.
Intolerance is the curse of obstinate ignorance. It is the impatience for and/or condescension towards the man who asserts that 2+2 equals 10, whilst forgetting that he does his addition in base 4.
In my little understanding of the troubles that plague Nigeria, I have come to understand the multiple complexities that attend the Nigerian solution. There is never a one-size-fits-all approach. The dynamics are incredibly difficult to navigate. It is thus with this mindset that we should appreciate the divergence of views that people bring to the table.
As Wole Soyinka rightly states: “the greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism”. Herein lies the telling signs of how a man can miraculously transform from youth leader to an Abati. If whilst posturing as people leader, he demonizes dissent, he would be a monster when drunk with the power that Nigeria’s pseudo democracy confers.
Nigeria is bigger than any one man or group of men. When one starts to believe in a man rather than a set of values, it presents a dangerous platform for inconsistencies in arguments.
It is the reason why I can’t understand Reno’s acquittal of Dr. Adesina, the minister of agriculture because “…he’s known to be untainted by corruption”. Arrant nonsense. If between the minister and his permanent secretary, information dissemination to the public cannot be managed, how then do we trust in their ability to effectively communicate to 10million farmers?
But again, I digress.
It behooves of every activist to be sincere and face issues from a logical base. While he may not agree that PDP is the problem of Nigeria, he shouldn’t be difficult to convince that the Abia state governor should spend a long vacation in jail. While he may consider Buhari an upright and honest man, he should be appalled at his tendency to incite violence.
My last article on the Scoop argued that we must function from a place of influence if we have to effect change in Nigeria. We must present something that helps the dynamics. The remarkable work of LegalNaija and BudgITng contributes immeasurably to our cause. While it has been extensively argued that the OccupyNaija campaign was the voices of ordinary people protesting an unjust action by government, we can’t neglect the part played by the people who put money together to fuel the rallies. Our story of success would be incomplete without them. I believe strongly that there is a place of worth, influence and competence in our battle.