Monday, November 16, 2009

Buba Galadima, a high-ranking member of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) recently called for a violent revolution in Nigeria that would use the Jerry Rawlings Solution to purge the nation and create political change. The Jerry Rawlings Solution (JRS) refers to the execution of many powerful military officers and other military/political elite by Jerry Rawlings shortly after he took over Ghana in a violent 1981 coup. Galadima is not the first Nigerian to speak of such as a solution to Nigeria's problem and most likely he will not be the last. However, such calls for violence are not the solution Nigeria needs and in fact would likely create more problems for the country.

Buba Galadima

For years, Nigeria witnessed a series of military coups that deposed of one regime or democratically elected government or another. However, since 1999, the country has experienced continuous democratic rule with little concern of a return to the uncertain days of military dictatorships. Unfortunately, a lot of the promises made to Nigerians about the benefits of democracy are yet to materialize thus creating a level of impatience. This disillusion and the fact that Nigeria faces many hurdles, makes the prospect of a new, yet violent, start, tempting.

But the reality is that anyone who would call for violence as a means of political change in Nigeria does the people a certain disservice. Currently, Nigeria has just bought relative peace in the Niger Delta by paying off militants and the states in the region a hefty sum. Not too long ago, the nation was rocked by Boko Haram attacks in the north and as happens far too often, tensions in the north can sometimes develop into fighting between Christians and Muslims. Furthermore, constant kidnappings of men women and children create a perfect storm of insecurity and uncertainty. The nation has enough problems on its plate, as such, suggesting that violence is the only answer to creating a better Nigeria is irresponsible. And in fact, Galadima, who is a close associate of former dictator-turned Presidential aspirant Gen. Buhari (rtd.) should be disqualified from public service based on his assertions alone. It is unconscionable for any politician or person related to a political party to publicly or privately encourage or support violence and it is a shame that Galadima would take this approach.

By ratcheting up the rhetoric, Galadima's statements have consequences for many. Traditionally, the President's party has taken every possible opportunity to accuse opposition parties such as the ANPP of seeking to disrupt Yar'Adua's administration, even going so far to accuse American President Barack Obama of working against Yar'Adua. Already, the PDP has started with its accusation that Galadima seeks to overthrow Yar'Adua. The party has now stated,
"In this context of Galadima's interview, he is not only calling for the overthrow of this Government, he is also calling for the elimination of all former Nigerian leaders to pave way for his weird political agenda."
That being the case, Galadima's statement will only fuel further accusations and give the PDP and this administration more public leverage with its supporters as they will simply point to Galadima's words. Galadima's statements will also give the overzealous SSS and others more fuel to round up, arrest and harrass those considered 'threats' (wisely or not) as was the case when Yar'Adua had bloggers locked up, journalists arrested and even shut down a television station in 2008. Galadima's statements will give this administration further cause to push for a tighter clampdown on information as is already the case with the Anti-Terrorism Bill, which presents a grave danger to the human and civil rights of Nigerians, and the Freedom of Information Bill which will likely never see the light at this rate.

As noted above, Nigerians are no strangers to coups. Typically, when a coup occurs, radio stations play band style music and television stations are forced to show announcements from the coup plotters. For many, this is a tense time and breeds uncertainty. Galadima's fascination with a Jerry Rawlings Solution might require military intervention and that is something Nigerians definitely do not need. After the likes of Babangida and Abacha who treated the Central bank as if it was their personal account, stealing millions and possibly billions of the people's money, to even suggest that military officers, who have the power of their guns, should control Nigeria or play any role in Nigerian politics is despicable.

Personally, I have stated that Nigeria needs a revolution, and I have always held that such a revolution need not be violent but must be a change in the way we Nigerians see our country and our relationship to the nation. Once that mind shift occurs, once a majority of Nigerians take ownership of their country, they will work together using peaceful means to effect the positive change Nigeria needs for the benefit of the nation and future generations. Nigerians, should therefore, not call for the very violence that could prevent a potential bright future. Besides if there is one verifiable truth, it is that non-violent revolutions, though slow, have managed to change the world as the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King have proven.

There is no question that Nigerian democracy is a problem. The recent Ekiti elections only reinforced what is commonly known - elections are too often stolen in Nigeria and the courts are required to remedy the situation after the fact. Nigerians are becoming increasingly impatient with this political modus operandi and the fact that stolen elections means politicians that cannot be held accountable. Despite this, Nigerians should be encouraged to reject payments for their votes and encouraged to guard and protect their vote as a means of creating progressive political change. Nigerians have seen the consequence of violence countless times, one such time being during the Biafran War. When it started, no one thought the war would last as long as it did and result in as much catastrophe. To therefore call for violence and the fact that violence could spurn out of control and create a repeat of that national tragedy is highly unnecessary.

Violence is a tool that has been wielded by the mighty by centuries, allowing the unsuspecting to succumb to the scathe while their 'leaders' live to potentially fight another day. But, the reality is the violence is a significant tool which when unleashed is hard to reign in and as such is inefficient for national change. That inefficiency coupled with the human consequences of violence, make it a non-solution for a nation like Nigeria which has enough problems with violence and insecurity and does not need political agents advocating violence as a tool for political change. So, while the Jerry Rawlings Solution might seem like a tempting option, it really is a non-option for Nigeria.

From The Archives:
- I Think Nigeria Needs A Revolution
- Putting A Nigerian Revolution in Context
- The Nigerian Psyche
- Persistent Psychological Paralysis
- The Significance of Persistent Psychological Paralysis

- 23MN of Nigeria's Youth Are Unemployable

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ShadeNonconformist said...

I'm not going to lie, i always felt that for a revolution/change to occur in Nigeria, violence is/was necessary. Unlike Galadima, my caveat would be that "we need to execute the military officers/political elite who have embezzled funds in Nigeria, are guilty of human rights violation and so on". Because i feel like no matter how much we "pray/fast", these people will continue to influence policies and commit all sorts of despicable acts. Hence, we need to execute them. Radical but hey...It's not like they care about the hungry/dying families or children that can afford healthcare, have access to a good education..

But after reading your well articulated argument, i'm beginning to have a re-think about that. I guess it always helps to see it from another perspective. Thanks...

Come to think about it, it's scary to think of the atrocities that our so-called leaders will commit all in the name of a "revolution" if violence breaks out (pray it never does). Also, i know it's become redundant, but we really need a grassroots movement in Nigeria where people feel involved/engaged in the political process (we believe that our vote counts, we want to make it count, we are willing to die for our country). I strongly believe that it will help create a sense of oneness amongst us Nigerians and the country. We would actually care about what happens to our motherland..I keep praying for that day...At least it's beginning to happen..That's the first step...

Sorry for being long-winded...

Azazel said...

Idk i kinda agree with the dude though..
We really do need our own revolution in Nigeria..
We are tired of waiting..

Omosi T said...

Anyone who calls for violent revolution should bring out their parents, siblings, relatives they care about and their friends, then shoot each and every one of those people in the head, then I'll know that they are serious about a violent revolution. Till then they should STFU!!!!! Nonsense! Most people that call for a violent revolution which will probably lead to another civil have probably not experienced the devastation that war can bring. We as a nation have not recovered from the first civil war and some damn idiot is looking to start another one???? Ugh

nneoma said...

well-stated. galadima's statements are very much in-line with that of Ojukwu's latest civil war rants which I discussed recently. i agree, that such statements are careless, but the push for violent revolution is becoming increasingly and uncomfortably more common. soaring unemployment rates, a sham of an educational system and the inability to EFFECTIVELY petition the government, create fertile soil for violent uprisings. putting in place and enforcing means by which ordinary citizens can peaceably challenge policies and injustices is a good move for democracy and indirectly protects the government from military coups.


@ Shadenonconformist: thanks so much for taking the time to swing by and comment. Much appreciated.

For sure, this Jerry rawlings suggestion is one reiterated by many at home and abroad. I just think that as a nation, we have not exhausted our recourse options for changing the nation. Violence is not the only solution and I strongly believe that in our case, it is non-option because once we let that beast loose, there is little doubt that we will not be able to reign it in.

Besides, where would we stop with the executions? How far back would we consider either military officers and their allies? Would they have to be judged in a court of law first? I mean when one really thinks about the potential consequences of Galidima's suggestion, its a lot more complicated.

Anyway, I can't help but look at Nigeria and see so many people individually and collectively doing the impossible despite their circumstances and worry that violence and further insecurity would only serve to put these people at a disadvantage.

Thanks so much again for taking the time to start this conversation.


@ Azazel: Believe you me, my broda, I understand your frustration. Indeed, most Nigerians are tired of waiting for change after being promised all sorts. Like I noted in the post, indeed a 'revolution' is necessary. However, no revolution will ever be effective if those directly involved are not enlightened and aware of what it is that needs to be changed. That being said, a violent revolution in Nigeria would be more detrimental than beneficial in my opinion because there are too many moving parts. Violence would allow various fringe elements, now kept in check, to take advantage of the insecurity. Consider the fact that Boko Haram recently raged violence in the north. From all I have heard there remain elements that would pursue similar action if allowed to. Think about AFRICOM. Do you know AFRICOM was partially (well, in large part) created to increase American access to oil and that the US has been planning/preparing via war games for the collapse of Nigeria as a nation so that at that time they can come in under the aegis of helping but with the concrete idea of accessing materials and resources. Now don't get me wrong, I don't mention this to bash the US, but I do include it here to further the discussion (particularly as I had to make a deliberate choice not to mention it in the post's body). If any of that is accurate (which it is), why would we Nigerians want to speed the breakdown of the fragile peace we have as is, and give others an opportunity to further intrude in our nation and its future? I only mention this to give more context to this discussion.

Again, Nigerians have not exhausted their options for dealing with the issues of our political elite who have failed to live up to their expectations. Violence is definitely not necessary, I believe. We Nigerians have to take matters into our own hands. For instance, if your local government leaders are not organized enough to remove trash from the streets, then the community should dump their refuse in front of their elected officials homes. This is just one of a million of tactics that citizens can take to truly frustrate non-performing officials. These acts of civil disobedience, if strategically applied across the nation can force the hand of officials.

Anyway, I don't mean to diminish your stance. I understand and share the frustration that makes the Jerry Rawlings solution very appetizing. I however, believe that suggesting violence is the only remaining option is irresponsible. Besides, would Galidima put himself in the middle of a fight? Would you, my broda? If anyone cannot truly commit their own personal body when fight time comes, then they have no business encouraging others to potentially die.

Thanks so much for always swinging by and taking the time to share your honest opinions. I truly appreciate it as watching/participating in these discussions definitely helps me crystallize my ideas on things. I hope that these discussions are beneficial for you as well.


@ Omosi T: Geez, way to be direct, but I completely agree with you! Yes, calls for outright violence could lead to another civil war and as a nation, we haven't even atoned for or truly addressed the last civil war.

In fact, I can't even add anything to your comment because I feel you more than adequately summed up the frustration I feel from Galadima's comment.

Most Nigerian elite can say whatever they want because they have not only the finances but the connections to remove their family if and when such is necessary. No offense to galadima, I would like to say he truly wants the best for Nigeria, but his statement for violence and military coup disqualifies him from ever having a public say on the state of the nation. If wahala bursts now, the guy go disappear. Its like the people who financed Boko Haram, where are they now? Everyone knows who some of these characters are. They cajoled and compelled these men to risk their lives and kill others but now that katakata has burst, they aren't brave enough to reveal themselves, shebi?


Let me even stop....


@ nneoma: you put it so succinctly. As yo say, "such statements are careless". Full stop. And what drives me nuts is that more people aren't challenging these supposedly wise elders, like Ojukwu and Galadima.

If war breaks out their children will be safe. What about the rest of us? WHat about our children? our relatives? Our grandmothers. It is despicable to encourage violence. Ojukwu should spend more time trying to bring an end to the kidnappings and violence happening in his own backyard, instead of spurring flames of violence to flame his own ego. God have mercy.

N.I.M.M.O said...

Frustration. That's what causes people like Galadima to talk like that. He's just frustrated. Remember what is said about those who make peaceful change impossible. The PDP has made it impossible to change government peaceful, what do you want Galadima (and ANPP) to think?

I am sure that when Buhari considers his travails in the last two elections, he will blame himself for not finishing off most of those who torment him now when he had the chance in 1983.

If he had done so then, Nigerians would have hailed him. After all, Rawlings had just done same in Ghana, so there was precedent.

Many Nigerians do not remember - or do not know - that the so called Rawlings Solution was actually based on a Nigerian model. The one of January 15, 1966.

While the Nigerian model failed, Rawlings had enough time to perfect his own. Rawlings had a plan and time was on his side. He was also able to lead by example but that does not make up for the lives lost.

Unlike you Sydelle, I will not say what is the answer and what is not. Nigeria is the theater of Never Say Never (Again). Anything can happen. We just don't learn.

joicee said...

I do not think we need another bloodshed in Nigeria, in the name of a revolution. We have had enough. In the last year, so many lives have been lost due to religious conflicts and the niger delta issue ...I do not rememeber the government lighting a candle for those victims or even doing a proper memorial(minute of silence.)

Then here comes this dude talking about a bloody revolution. When the post election attacks happened in Kenya , people were talking about a revolution....where is the change ...those innocent people lost their lives for nothing and there is still heavy corruption going on.

We need a revoultion ....but the Jerry Rawlings way is a no no.

ps...this one that he is muslim , the revolution that he is talking about may be to bring in sharia for all of Naija o..hmmmm...just sayin´

Oluniyi David Ajao said...

Before anyone calls for "Jerry Rawlings" solution, they should just take a look at Ghana today and tell me how much better it is than Nigeria.

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