I had a discussion recently, with a friend based in the United States, where he is running a PhD programme. We took time to analyse the state of Nigeria; the fuel scarcity, the fast approaching 2023 elections, populist illusions and if revolution is inevitable in the country.
My friend (name withheld) asked me why I think there has been no mass protest against the lingering fuel scarcity despite the hardships that come with it.
In my revolutionary subconscious mind, I realised I had given little thought to why we have not witnessed popular resistance.
“That was thoughtful of you,” I immediately answered as I still grappled in my brain around the reasons for such ‘revolutionary patience’ (as I call it) of the oppressed classes in Nigeria.
“Oh, it’s the fast approaching elections,” I said in a sharp response. People are seeking succour in the elections, hoping that some Messiah is coming to rescue Nigeria this time again.
Again, I said to myself, could the elections really be the reason?
Finally, I said “oh, the recent heightened repression on civic rights and demonstrations is also a reason.”
My friend who was earlier indifferent to my response as she managed to dissect the what exactly the “succour” people foresee in the forthcoming elections, shouted “yes! The repression! Now you’re talking.”
I finally felt like I still had some sense (at least for a Doctor in the making to agree with me).
Looking at the waves of arrests, killings at Lekki and thereafter (including of ethno-nationalist agitators as recent as January 2023), and years of detention many protesters have suffered after the 2020 #EndSARS rebellion, my friend couldn’t agree less.
But whether it is the expected succour from the February elections or the fear of repression, I call them all illusions.
Since the material conditions that caused the massive Nigeria’s anti-fuel hike protest in 2012, and the massive uprising against extra judicial killing in 2020 are still in force (as we know of the killing of Lawyer Bolanle Raheem as well), we can really say that this “revolutionary patience” will not last. It merely awaits an ignition to lead to massive social unrest.
Revolutionary activists must stir the embers of resistance and channel the fire next time into a lasting struggle for system change.
Freedom comes only through struggle. We do not only fight against the oppressors when we fight to defend our rights and promote our class interests as the exploited classes. The class struggle also helps to sharpen our understanding of the fact that the oppressors will not simply give us our rights. We liberation struggle is thus also a fight to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, freeing our minds from the illusions which the capitalist system daily entraps us in, with the wool of “patience”.
by Gbenga VON