Today will be the first day of a planned popular protest given the tag of a revolution. The first day could be decisive on how far it would go in terms of popular acceptance among Nigerians. In January 2012, it was a massive uprising. The government of the day had to allege a regime change plot. The main difference between 2012 and the planned revolt in 2019 is that no one started by explicitly but tactlessly calling January 2012 a revolution, a word which has a singular meaning in all quarters of privilege across the world where power is most valued.
For the fourth day running, the ‘revolution’ has been dominating the front pages in Nigeria. While the government says it is treason and has arrested Omoyele Sowore, the leader of the coalition leading the process, the activists are sticking to their guns to match against bad governance. Social media and other discursive sites are circulating caution in movement in big cities, suggesting to people to anticipate heavy police presence.
Campaign for the release of Mr. Sowore is echoing heavily just as the Directorate of the State Security,(DSS) argues that not to arrest him would amount to sitting and doing nothing over a threat to peace and constitutionalism.
Very few are surprised by the arrest of Mr. Sowore by the secret police although many people are also wondering if the list of people in detention is not getting long. Of note is former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and Ibrahim El-zakzaky, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, (IMN). The practice of protective custody that has no terminal date sends a frightening message about any regime anywhere. As things are now, the revolution protest is coinciding with a trial appearance of El-zakzaky, each one with its own volatility.
It is not as if these are the only manifestations of crisis. Barely mitigated violence is raging on too many sites – from kidnapping of RCCG pastors to the killing of a priest in Enugu to Jukun-Tiv raw violence in Taraba State. And the question is how could it have become so difficult for the political leadership to calm this country?
Nobody has seen the sort of dialogue that could have such an automatic, nationwide calming effect. It is possible that behind the scene moves are being made. Welcome as that may be, few would agree that there is an alternative to large scale elite convergence that can create understanding and common position on the key controversies. It is doubtful if the current situation helps just about anybody in any ways whatsoever.