When is the Protest Starting? When is the Revolution Starting?

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THROUGHOUT last week on Twitter Nigeria, the words ‘revolution’ and ‘protest’ were trending. They were trending because of a massively rigged election in Nigeria where the best rigger out of the three major candidates won the day. Let it be registered that pieces of evidence abound for voter suppression and electoral fraud by all the three major parties – APC, PDP, and LP – but this Twitter trend has been dominated by LP supporters who are aggrieved because of their limited capacity to commit the crime of electoral fraud and violence – limited to South-eastern parts of the country. While APC and PDP supporters are hardly disputing the fact that they rigged or committed electoral fraud, the media has been awfully silent about the electoral fraud and voter suppression done by the party and supporters of the media favourite, Peter Obi.

Yet, videos abound on the internet. A man was chased out of a polling unit for voting APC on election day. A boy was brandishing a gun and threatening anyone who votes for APC or PDP in the South-East, before election day. The state-by-state graph of the percentage of voters showed that Peter Obi got outrageously high percentages of the votes (Anambra – 95%, Enugu -93%, Abia – 88%, Ebonyi – 79%, Imo -77%) in the states in his South-East region and stronghold – a percentage that has not featured anywhere else in this election or in the past elections. The outrageously high percentages of votes were clear evidence of the intolerance of any dissent against the LP in that region.

While I defer to the hopefulness of Nigerians who wanted to vote for Obi because he was sold to them by the media as their only hope for change, I am not sad that peter Obi lost the polls. If Obi had won, it would have been another four or eight years of body language or body-odour fighting corruption. It would have been years of “let him finish choosing his high-powered cabinet”. It would have been years of university strikes, just like Obi’s regime in Anambra, and the general response would be that he was not the one who owed or that ASUU is sponsored by the opposition. It would have been an administration putting the blame on the cabal around Obi. It would have been an administration of “technically defeating” Boko Haram and insecurity. It would have been an administration where hospitals will go on strike and the President would invest the money meant for workers’ wages in his private businesses and banks, and he will be generally hailed as prudent. It would have been an administration of police brutality on protesters who would be called criminals by the supporters of the President. It would have been a regime of 97% – 5% nepotism and it would be defended as wisdom. It would have been a regime of a barrage of excuses to do nothing. Excuses to stay away from direct action against the government, just in the same way Obi and his supporters gave excuses to not protest the cashless policy. All of these things ring a bell with the 2015 Buhari emergence. But the similarities between Obi/Obidience and Buhari/Buharism do not end there.

“Elections only leave us choosing between lesser evils and the issue with that is that, the lesser the evil, the lesser its chances of winning the greater evil. Why don’t we try the greater good for a change? Is it not time to rethink our approach to making change and stop sheepishly following the rules handed down to us by the past generations on how to make a change? All legitimate means of making change have failed. We need to think beyond voting for a rich urban educated and ‘saintly’ politician who feels none of the things we go through as a Messiah. We need to think about how to make a revolution, and how to make it now.”

Peter Obi and all other members of the billionaire capitalist class share the same conception of protests. They detest any demonstration of the people’s power on the streets. While he served as Anambra’s governor, Peter Obi was known to be incorrigibly anti-protest. Dr. Anthony Chukwuemeka, the former NLC state chairman during Obi’s time was almost arrested for declaring a strike and he described the experience with Obi’s goons “They were desperately looking for me to forcefully get me back to the secretariat to cancel the strike by all means before its commencement the following day, but they did not get me”. The Biafra separatist group MASSOB was banned in Anambra from protesting by Obi – a decision that drove them underground and saw the re-emergence of the separatist agitation in a violent IPOB. Members of the group and other youths (up to 50) were murdered by Awkuzu SARS at the Ezu River Killing under former Governor Obi’s watch. This is why we cannot afford to be sad that Obi lost his presidential bid, as people who are trying to be immune from collective amnesia.

Peter Obi has already conceded to Tinubu’s and Buhari’s declaration that there should be no protests and that anyone who is disgruntled should approach the court, meanwhile, Atiku and PDP have protested and nothing happened. This is after protest and revolution became a trend on Social media on behalf of this man’s mandate. This same man condemned protests when the cash scarcity policy of Buhari started too, and the Obidients supported it despite the amount of hardship that it brought on the Nigerian masses.

In Tinubu’s acceptance speech, he had this to say about protests “I know some candidates will be hard put to accept the election results. It is your right to seek legal recourse. What is neither right nor defensible is for anybody to resort to violence. Any challenge to the electoral outcome should be made in a court of law, and not in the streets.” It was easy to see how Tinubu likened protests to violence as if it was totally impossible to have non-violent protests. Tinubu recommended the court and Buhari also recommended the court when he spoke of the presidential election results that “If they [opposition parties] feel the need to challenge, please take it to the courts, not to the streets.” Again, Atiku protested earlier in the week and no tension escalated. Meanwhile, in 2019, when Revolution Now protests started, Buhari thanked Nigerians for “ignoring calls on social media to join a phantom ‘revolution’,” while recommending the elections that happened six months earlier as the solution. If it was possible to defeat them with an election or in court, they won’t recommend it to you. They know what works and they won’t recommend that to you. They know protests and revolution works. After losing the 2011 general elections, Buhari did not only call for a revolution but went further to threaten that “Dogs and baboons will be soaked in blood”  and in September 2014, in the run-up to the 2015 elections, Tinubu himself called for a common-sense revolution in the country.

In the run-up to this presidential election, a lot of excuses were made against protests over the cashless policy, the artificial fuel scarcity, and the poor funding of education. We were told to put every protest on hold because some people believed elections were more powerful than protests. Now that election manipulation has been added to the list of the things we’re disgruntled about with the ruling class of Nigeria, can the protests start now? Now that elections are over, it’s time to do away with the underhanded tactics of the bandwagon, blackmail, bullying, and outright vitriol, and embrace reason to revolt. Everybody has chosen how to resist the suffering of the past eight years on and off the ballot. Those choosing to resist on the ballot chose, and those that chose to resist off the ballot stayed off voting – because even if it was possible to vote out the oppressors, they don’t want to do it by supporters a fresh oppressor.

“Can protests start now? It’s time to convert our anger to courage. It’s time to do away with compromises in the expression of our anger. It’s time to do away with wild hopes like a mirage and face the serious task of saving ourselves by ourselves. Yes, the protests should cover a lot of issues and if election issues are raised in those protests, the disgruntled candidates should participate, else we should focus on issues that directly affect our livelihood.”

Elections only leave us choosing between lesser evils and the issue with that is that, the lesser the evil, the lesser its chances of winning the greater evil. Why don’t we try the greater good for a change? Is it not time to rethink our approach to making change and stop sheepishly following the rules handed down to us by the past generations on how to make a change? All legitimate means of making change have failed. We need to think beyond voting for a rich urban educated and ‘saintly’ politician who feels none of the things we go through as a Messiah. We need to think about how to make a revolution, and how to make it now.

If we do not take this initiative of revolt, the disgruntled members of the ruling class will rather prefer to start wars to further their own interests. People like Obi, Sowore, etc. who are disgruntled by the results of these protests should not leave it to their supporters to protest but they should also join the protests too. Members of the ruling class will offer war as an alternative, while some will offer a righteous military coup or a dictatorial interim regime as an alternative. But a revolution is the true alternative here.

Can protests start now? It’s time to convert our anger to courage. It’s time to do away with compromises in the expression of our anger. It’s time to do away with wild hopes like a mirage and face the serious task of saving ourselves by ourselves. Yes, the protests should cover a lot of issues and if election issues are raised in those protests, the disgruntled candidates should participate, else we should focus on issues that directly affect our livelihood.

We also need to rethink how we protest. We need protests to change Nigeria. Not protests to make demands from the ruling class. Protests for the people to reorganize themselves and take over. A protest culminating in a revolution.

What is a revolution?

A sustained radical effort by an ever-increasing number of people to create a society that works for everyone, not just the minority privileged or the majority oppressed, through a conscious and total reconstruction of the systems, structures, and institutions of society by everyone. That means you don’t get to come every four years with desperation for a quick fix and a Messiah that will allow you to go back to your undiluted focus on your individual hustle for survival. This means that you’ll do away with the Messiah complex that someone is coming to save you and start organizing with others to save yourselves. That means protests will start over government policies like cash scarcity, fuel scarcity, and student loan/fee increment policies.

What will a revolutionary protest do?

A revolutionary protest will start the process of healing the ethnic and religious divisiveness that the ruling rich class has planted and watered during the elections. It will end identity politics and the monopolization of victimhood by different targeted identity groups because no one will feel like a victim when they are on the streets exercising their power. Protest is not only about taking selfies and granting interviews. Protest is about taking power from the ruling class and granting them an audience on the level playing ground for a debate with the mass of the people over the policies impoverishing them. This debate also happens among protesters and serves as a means of political education for the masses asides from the educative protest materials like placards, leaflets, banners, etc. A revolution will do away with the cycle of apathy and desperation that features in this four years electoral system.

With thorough-going demands like the democratic restructuring of INEC to be headed by the democratic representatives of all existing political parties (registered or not), reregistration of deregistered political parties of the masses by INEC, and the cancellation of the massively rigged February 25 election, it is possible to win.

Let me use this opportunity to encourage Obidients to come to the arena of civil disobedience and ask; When is the protest starting? When is the revolution starting? I want to be a part of it.

Comrade Ibukun writes from Abuja and can be contacted on 09060277591

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