It’s Time To Become Politically Active! (Part 2)

Opinion

Below is a follow up on the first part of this essay If you have not read it, please find the time to. Here are some ideas for intentional political engagement. Understand your peculiar situation. I must reiterate this. This is so you understand that the power you have. Usually at this stage of your…

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Below is a follow up on the first part of this essay If you have not read it, please find the time to. Here are some ideas for intentional political engagement.

Understand your peculiar situation. I must reiterate this. This is so you understand that the power you have. Usually at this stage of your life, between the ages 17 and 30, you have no or minimal “life” responsibilities — depending on your current situation. Yes, there are those of you who are the exception. So we can agree that most Nigerians within that age group, at least ones that can afford the laptop or smartphone, the data rate fees, the education and time to read a lengthy essay like this, would most likely not have the responsibility of their families or loved ones’ wellbeing on their shoulders. If we can agree on that, then we can proceed. At this age, you can do whatever you want. This is the time you can make mistakes and claim it to be a learning experience. This is the time you can go backpacking through West Africa and your parents would probably be fine with it; remember, I said “probably”. This is the time you would probably stop growing taller. This is the time you can be insubordinate to elderly ones and they would blame it on youthful exuberance. I might be off on some of the items listed above, but hope you catch my drift? You can do whatever the heck you want and the gods of responsibility and accountability would be willing to forgive you the moment you ask for repentance.

Study to show thyself approved… a workman who needeth not to be ashamed… now that you understand your current situation, it is time to jak. Yep! Read! Books! Enough is enough of those vacuous, strawman, pseudo and anti-intellectual arguments you spew on Facebook walls and comment boxes. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook and Twitter can be powerful political tools which you should use. But you need to study and know what the hell you are talking about, so you need not be ashamed and insecure, and that your Facebook comments start being about discourse instead of egomaniacal dogfights of crass words.

Enough is enough of that “I don’t like politics” or “I am not interested in politics” bullshit.

Enough is enough of that “I don’t like politics” or “I am not interested in politics” bullshit. How can you say that you are not interested in politics, when politics by its very definition, is the reason why a polity of 250 ethnic groups, speaking over 500 languages and dialects can exist together as one nation?

I dare any Lagosian to step out of his or her house on “environmental days”. Yes, some of you might say you do it, but you know you do it at you own peril and with the dubious readiness to settle (bribe) that officer when you get apprehended. So, please let’s not go off point. You get my point! If you think this and do this then you are part of the rotten cankerworm that is eating away the very fabric of our nation. I hope, at the end of this lengthy disquisition, that I would be able to convince you and not to confuse you, with respect to your civil responsibilities to your country.

Please, don’t be the political ignoramus Bertolt Brecht speaks about.

The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.”

To avoid being this ignoramus, you need to read. Since the government has decided that studying Nigerian history is no longer important in our schools, we need to first acknowledge that fact, and then start studying our history, with a vehemence known only to Vulcans.

What do I read? Where do I start? Here are a few free resources that can help. After consuming them, I am rest assured that you won’t need me to help you find the books to read. If you read every single article on this link, you might become as knowledge as your history professor.

I also suggest reading Toyin Falola’s A History of Nigeria. From here on, let Google be your friend. Let her direct you to resources that could help. Simply reading the Wikipedia entry about the The Nigerian Civil War as well as its external links could be a good start.

Please also study the 1999 constitution and its amendments when in doubt, as this will inform you on your rights and powers, so you can defend yourself and the people around from political abuse.

Reach out to the uneducated area boys, street hawkers, “agberos”, the “common people” and those who would never read this essay. Make them your friends. To make this work effectively, I suggest building a grassroots movement. This could be the mission of the Student Union Government (SUG) in your University. The power you possess is unfathomable. Forget about burning the Vice Chancellor or Dean’s lodge because there is no water or electricity in your hostels. Forget that! You have larger fish to fry. If you can get the legislators representing the federal constituents and senatorial districts your university is located at by the balls, then have your school administrators in the palm of your hands. I would show you how. But the success of that is largely dependent on the success of this.

Forget about burning the Vice Chancellor or Dean’s lodge because there is no water or electricity in your hostels. Forget that! You have larger fish to fry.

Throughout history, across the world, university students have been some of the more effect obstacles against oppressive and repressive governments, when they decided enough was enough. Now is the time for this generation of young Nigerians to make history.

Let the student union be an extension of the movement you intend to create. And in places where many citadels of higher education are in close proximity, synergizing efforts to make this possible becomes paramount. For example:

1. In Yaba Lagos State, the following schools could work together to form a formidable force: University of Lagos. Akoka Campus, Yaba College of Technology, Federal College of Education Akoka, St. Augustine College of Education, Federal School Science and Technical College.

2. In Owerri, Imo State, the following could also take dressing from their Yaba counterparts: Imo State University, Federal University of Technology (FUTO), Federal Polytechnic Nekede, International Institute of Journalism, National Open University, Federal College of Land Resources Technology.

As much as possible combine forces to make your grassroots movement more powerful and efficacious.

Here is how the SUG of the different universities within an area can come together to build these movements.

1. Create an association: This is important for a grassroots movement. It is also important because it creates a structure to operate within the confines of the country’s legal structures. This would also indemnify you and members of your organization from liabilities. Infoguidenigeria does a good job explaining how this could be setup.

2. Avoid the rise of a demagogue: The University of Lagos can boast of over 50,000 students; Lagos state University: 35,000; Yaba College of Technology: 16,000. One can comfortably say that there are over 200,000 students in Lagos. Now imagine the number of young people in Lagos; probably over 4 million. One person at the head of this large group of people can fast become a demagogue and become the very thing they are fighting against. The governing council of these organizations (the grassroots movements) could come from all the Universities in close proximity and members of other local civic organizations. This would help create checks and balances of such a movement. At all the cost, the rise of a demagogue must be avoided. It is better to continue with the current state of things than create a populist dictator. Nigeria has suffered enough from those.

3. Have a name and a single mission statement. For example: “Young Nigerians against corrupt leadership”, for a name. A Mission statement could look like: “Our mission is to end abuses by the Nigerian government on its people. We as a community of young people would do all we can to make our government accountable. Public office is a burden and not a luxury. We intend to remind our leaders of this and hold them accountable by all the resources at our disposal if they do otherwise. We envision a country free of every form of political, economic and social injustice”.

4. Go online: Do this with relentless vehemence. Have an organized team called your “online campaign team”, which would comprise of graphic designers, researchers, social media experts, etc. These individuals would be responsible for raising global awareness to the issues in Nigeria. The Nigerian government hates international embarrassment. Let this be our leverage. What I am suggesting here is an organized online campaign of #BringBackOurGirls ramifications.

5. Recruitment: This is the most important part. Through your social media and online campaign you can get people to join the movement. But this is not enough. You need to get the Area boys in your communities to be a part of this. They have no time for the shenanigans of Facebook, so you need to reach them through personal means. All they care about, at this moment, is shandy, hence you need to appeal to and some way seek to alleviate their current situation. Your job is to get them on your side. They need to see the upside (advantage) of being part of the movement. Hence speak to them in the various languages they understand.

A strategy to achieve this could be reaching out to the leaders of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and make them members of the movement. If this is impossible, then the need to get these boys on the side of the movement becomes more difficult and necessary. Why is this necessary? The nature of Nigeria politics is extremely Machiavellian and these boys, through their NURTW leaders can easily be activated by a paying politician to go on violent escapades against our grassroots movement.

I believe if these boys could be convinced that with their help we all can remove a corrupt leader and put someone who would have our interest at heart and be ready to serve us, then maybe they might be willing to turn their cloak on their NURTW handlers. They are human beings with aspirations, desires and shared values — like everyone else. The social construction of political oppression and domination, which we have all helped to perpetuate, makes us put them in a class of the macabre and unworthy. Enough of the them and us language (And I apologize for using it here. I only do so to make my points). They eat like us, look like us and could be us. So, whatever we do, for Nigeria to get better we must not forget those who have become victims of malevolent structures they had no hand in creating.

The local police

The other side to this is getting the local police on our side. The Nigerian police is inherently corrupt and not much better than their Agbero counterparts. But getting them on our side is so important for the security of outdoor political activities.

Many police stations suffer from bed bugs and mosquitoes which make the lives of the police officers miserable, as they are barely able to get any sleep at night — turning them monsters, during the day, that abuse the people they are meant to protect and serve. Agreeing to pay for the fumigation of their premises could go a long way in building effective relationships and trust between the locals and the police.

These stations are dilapidated cesspools of pestilence. The movement could raise money by crowdfunding online and soliciting funds from local corporations to help alleviate the infrastructural problems of these stations, thereby increasing the quality of life of these police officers. Just recently a building in the police barracks at Ikeja collapsed, killing two.

The top brass of the Nigerian police force have shown that they couldn’t care less about the living situation of their junior officers. We must take it upon ourselves to care for them any way we can, because they are the ones we come in contact with every day. For our own safety and sanity, we must be directly responsible for the wellbeing of our local police men and women.

Apart from the fact that one is showing some appreciation to the individuals who have committed their lives to “make Nigeria safer and more secure for economic development and growth”, it is also a strategic way to foster useful relationships with the police.

Always find time to criticize the government. It is not our job to provide basic amenities or make decisions concerning the allocation of resources. It the job of the government. Enough is enough of that “stop criticizing the government, do it yourself” or “think of providing solutions instead of criticizing the government” nonsense. Please this has to stop. Very many Nigerian motivational speakers use this to fire up their audiences — extorting money for inspiration that borders on quackery.

Always find time to criticize the government. It is not our job to provide basic amenities or make decisions concerning the allocation of resources. It the job of the government. Enough is enough of that “stop criticizing the government, do it yourself” or “think of providing solutions instead of criticizing the government” nonsense.

Please Staaap this! There is a reason we have a government populated by public servants whose jobs are to run the state. We form a state so it can do the things we can’t do for ourselves, like protect ourselves. If we were to protect ourselves, it would be impossible survive, because it would be every person for him or herself. And the strong would destroy and dominate the weak.

Hence, the state is created and given the monopoly on violence to protect the people who set it up. A kind of social contract if you will. It is setup to punish those who break the social contract. Now, since the State is an entity designed to serve and protect those who agree to be a part of it, it has to be run by people — a government. Under a power-by-the-people-and-for-the-people system, we get to pick those who would be part of the government to run our State through an election or some other process.

These individuals, to get elected, must assure us that they are willing to serve us and take on our collective interest — eschewing their own personal interests. Agreeing to do this, we get them elected, pay them ridiculously high salaries and afford them other perks of power, like housing, state-sponsored security, etc.

Depending on the source you believe, the average Nigeria lawmaker at the federal level makes between $1 and $1.7 million dollars per annum. Some sources say they might the highest paid lawmakers in the world.

Remember this, they get paid a shit tonne of money to serve us. It is their job to come up with solutions to the problems of the nation they serve. It is our job to be satisfied or not. If satisfied, we give them feedback and tell them to go unto other things. We are not supposed to thank them for doing their jobs. It is this nonsense that made people think a certain administration was amazing because “it brought back trains”.

If not satisfied, we are meant to complain, complain and complain, until we are heard. Please it is not our job to come up with solutions. It is the job of the government to design solutions and implement them with the acquiescence of the people they serve.

Remember, they are public servants! Servants of the public! We already thank them enough by lining their pockets with so much money, which to me is an indictment of our value system, since over 120 million Nigerians live on less than $2 a day. So please, enough of that “Proffer solutions and stop waiting for the government to help you” bullshit! If you took anything from this part of the essay, please let it be this last point.

Also join the #iStandWithTheDisplaced movement on Facebook and Twitter, as we work together to restore the dignity of the Internally displaced in North Eastern Nigeria.

Watch out for part Part 3 ***** In Nollywood movie Trailer Voice*****

Article originally published here.

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