I dreamt of a revolution long before I became a man, because even as a child it was clear to me that I had been born into a society that favoured a few. I dreamt of days that we would walk in unison, the sun kissing our feet and glistening on our backs, towards the citadels that were built to uphold “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress” but have become nothing but bastions of corruption, nepotism, and the flagrant disregard for the rule of law. I dreamt we would tear it all down, as in the background, we the young revolutionaries -those to which the future had been promised to, but not given -chanted our epoch defining songs.
My dream has remained that, just a dream, but as my youth fades into an ever conscious adulthood we may be finally arriving at the spring of our nation’s inquest. We are slowly arriving at a juncture in the Nigerian story where enough may finally be enough. Up and down the country the whispers of dissent filter through and people are continually fed up with the state of everything Nigerian. There are whispers and talks of revolutions, of taking back power, of halting the injustices of our time and reversing the fortunes of a nation we all were taught in school was great, but have yet to witness its greatness. It is with this in mind that I write this. I do not know what form of revolution eventually awaits this land called home. I do not know on what day it will come, but one thing I do know Is that we must be clear about what we stand for, clear about what we fight for and fight against, and conscious that the work does not end with chants of victory, that taking back a country from those that have robbed and raped it, is not the same as rebuilding a nation and a people.
There is no doubt that when talks of revolutions spring up, our minds immediately picture scenes of protest, violence, bloodied pavements and streets, and a struggle that culminates in the destruction of young lives and wasted generations. There is no doubt that this remains a possibility, but before the talks of Blood and Iron revolutions, which doesn’t have to be the answer, we need to understand that as a nation, we are caught in this rot we find ourselves because we are a country without positive values and by extension visionary leadership.
The very first revolution needed in Nigeria, before any, is a revolution of ideals. We as a people need to erect and hold ourselves accountable to certain core values. We are a people that have lost the value of integrity and honest work. We are a people that cannot recognize what human dignity is or value the basic rights of a person. We are a country that exists without a conscience for good, without a conscience for equality, without a conscience for what is right and just, without a conscience for anyone that doesn’t participate in whatever religion we participate in, or come from the same tribe or social class we come from. Make no mistake about it; it will be these values that will define whatever struggle we choose to embark on. It will be these values that will ensure that when we take to the streets in protest against those that have failed to carry out our mandate time and again to our collective detriment, we do so not just for ourselves, or for our families, but for people suffering in every corner of this country -from the north, where we have people living as refugees in their own country, to the murky oil polluted south, where the livelihood of the common man has been destroyed – we protest regardless of tribe, religion or social class. Without these values in place, every struggle, no matter how victorious it may seem at first, will eventually fall apart. Without these values we run the risk of running rings around ourselves and only succeeding in moving power from one Kleptocracy to another and further disenfranchising future generations to come.
The real battle for the soul of our nation is not a battle between one generation and another; or one tribe and another; or one religion and another, it is a battle of ideologies, of how we think, how we act and how we want to remembered by those that will come after us. We owe it to ourselves, and to those to come, to stop the rot now. But we must also be conscious about the risks involved in towing this path, because even though your struggle is for a nation as a whole, there are those to which the current status quo fits just perfectly. They will not willingly give back to you what has been taken from you -the right to not only demand for better, but to also have better: to see it, to touch it, to feel it, to be surrounded by it. There are those that will wish to turn to violence on both sides. We must repress these urges. We do not have to destroy ourselves to rebuild ourselves. We can bring about the change we truly desire without making martyrs of ourselves or those we fill have wronged this nation.
When all is said and done, and if we manage to take our country back, let us remember not to put our feet up and recline in our arm-chairs of victory thinking “the work has been done”. Let us remember to continue in this vain, to continue to pursue to its lair, growth and prosperity for all, through education; through conscious activism; through an unquenchable thirst for justice and equality for every man, woman and child that identifies as Nigerian. Nothing else will suffice.