by Richard Chilee
Not many people will disagree with me that there is a tremendous power in unity. Though it can be delayed, nothing can stop a people united in the consistent pursuit of a collective goal. In Nigeria, a typical example of the power of unity spiced with a measure of courage is readily found in the #OccupyNigeria protest.
This protest which rocked the country because of the fuel subsidy removal by the Nigerian government in January 2012 is the most perfect and beautifully orchestrated example of what courage and unity can do for a people and how they can greatly and positively transform the state of our nation when we unite.
Nigerians used this protest as a platform to demonstrate our seething anger towards the government. It enabled us to get the attention of the world turned towards us and feel our pains. We were able to use this platform to tell the government that we have had enough of its gross insensitivities and corrupt practices.
It is important to recall that the protests just weren’t about the removal of the fuel subsidy, it stemmed from discontent of the Nigerian people as a result of the wanton greed, corrupt practices, and utter selfishness by the government – a government that is supposed to be of the people, by the people and for the people but which had instead become that of an unscrupulous, selected few.
Now, the protest did not come cheap; lives were lost, many others were injured and several families went hungry because buying and selling activities were grounded in the process, but we were not deterred, instead, these setbacks acted as a fuel for the struggle; made us stronger, more determined and more motivated in the pursuance of our shared goal.
The protest also sparked the consciousness of many young Nigerians and made them understand that we all need a more accountable government. The protest was also an eye opener which made the plenty unaware Nigerians overtly aware of their inalienable rights. The protest also acted as a springboard for young political activists to discover and harness their inherent potentials while several others used it as an opportunity to express themselves through incisive writing and concise blogging.
It was the tremendous powers of courage and unity manifested through the protest that made the government to adjust the price of the petroleum products, even if little, to nearly suit the average Nigerian. The government is also gradually becoming more and more aware and accountable to the Nigerian people because they have gotten a piece of our strength when we are united.
Without the spirits of unity and courage to occupy the streets of Nigeria, we would still be kept short sighted in the affairs of the nation by the government; we would still be left in the dark, at the mercy of an unproductive leadership.
Lots of town hall meetings had been held, plenty of speeches had been given, countless books had been written on the pitiable state of the nation. But none seemed to have been effective, none attracted as much global attention and none had been given immediate attention like the Occupy Nigeria protest. This is because standing up together as a people provides us with greater power and greater courage which we can use to effect any positive change we desire.
No time is more important than now for us to come together as a people to identify and agitate for the kind of country we want to leave for posterity. We must build fronts and platforms like that of the Occupy Nigeria protest. These platforms must offer us the opportunities to identify our common problems through the idea of crowd sourcing.
The tools we need to build a new Nigeria are in our hands and these tools must be centred on, and they must harness the powers of courage and unity of purpose. These are powers which will give us the abilities to make sustainable and constructive contributions towards nation building.
Unlike yesteryears, there is the immense urgency for the powers of collaboration. The information we gather today must not be wasted, they must strengthen us, and they must give us clear perspective on what we need to do and how we need to do that which we have to do. This knowledge must act as a pedestal which we must climb to make effective advancement.
No doubt, the status quo in which we operate today is not conducive and sufficient for success and development, today’s status quo tramples on the economic right of many Nigerians. We must not only understand this system, we all must act with the urgency for the powers of unity and collaboration to change it to a better and sustainable one. It is only when we change it that we all can enjoy a country full of enlightenment and immense prosperity; it is only when we are united that our future can be fully insured, and when our future is insured, they can be assured.