New Telegraph Opinion

The man that punched above his height


I

t’s announced as a mass revolt, to take place simultaneously within and outside Nigeria, beginning on Monday, August 5, 2019. Its auspices – Global Coalition for Security and Democracy – depicts a universal embrace.

 

 

The promoters of #RevolutionIsNow took a page from the playbook of uprisings in other climes, lately in Sudan. And its convener, Omoyele Sowore, online publisher of Sahara Reporters, and presidential candidate in the 2019 general election, was unequivocal about the aliased “#DaysofRage.”

 

 

 

Post-the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of his political platform, the African Action Congress (AAC) in Abuja recently, Mr. Sowore had declared: “As you know, they did it (revolution) in Sudan and it was started by some women. They (government) were making fun of them but they did not stop until doctors joined them, the labour union joined them and what started with five people became 5,000 and 500,000 and became 5,000,000 and the regime fell.”

 

 

There’s no “beating about the bush.” Sowore was straight to the point: a “regime change.” He damned the consequences of his proposal, and vowed to die for its cause.

 

 

His words: “Don’t ask me whether I am afraid or worried about the legal implications of what I am saying. I am carrying out a historical duty and only history can judge me, not a prosecutor or a federal judge. You can’t kill somebody who is not afraid of death.”

 

 

That’s the setting for the #RevolutionIsNow, and not the so-called “Key Demands” that seem an afterthought when the authorities raised concerns over the scheduled mass action, and their resolve to stop it in the bud.

 

 

Germaine, and pressing as some of the issues are, do they warrant a declaration of “revolution” in a society already at tenterhooks due to insecurity, and political, religious and sectional tensions?

 

It’s like adding fuel to a fire. The government and security agencies had to put preventive measures in place to abort the rioting.

 

 

And they did a good job of it, notwithstanding the “collateral damage” in citizens being manhandled by security operatives, who should provide protection for the agitators.

 

 

That said, we’re familiar with the phrase, “No responsible government will allow” anything untoward on its watch. Most times, the term is used loosely to emphasis government’s awesome powers, and the capacity to deploy them accordingly.

 

 

The appropriate time to test the terminology presented itself that Monday, and the security operatives bared their fangs in taming the alleged insurrection.

 

 

My baffle, though: Were the organizers expecting to be ushered into a tea party? A revolution, as defined, is “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system.”

 

 

It’s “a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval…” mostly achieved through tears, sorrow and blood, as in the Sudanese struggle that Sowore alluded to in his “Manifesto” for the #DaysofRage.

 

 

Among revolution’s many synonyms are: anarchy, coup, disorder, insurgence, insurrection, mutiny, overthrow, putsch, rebellion, revolt, riot, seizure of power, sedition, subversion and uprising.

 

 

Which of these words is a plaything to be bandied by persons dissatisfied with the status quo, and desirous of change by calling for “sustained” days of rage until the regime falls?

 

 

Let’s be honest! No government, not even that of the bastion of democracy, the United States of America, would fold its arms when individuals or groups threatened to levy a “revolution” on it.

 

Perhaps, the organizers of #RevolutionIsNow played into the hands of the authorities. If by omission, they had employed “revolution” in the place of “protest,” it would indicate naivety and tactlessness: that the security operatives would give them a hug, guide and protect them in their resolve to overawe the government.

 

 

But they definitely hit the bull’s eye if, by commission, they had reasoned that by using “revolution” as the call to action, the authorities would be jittery, and pounce on them, as witnessed in the tight security cordon across the country.

 

 

Thus, the marchers’ artfulness, seeming fashionable, and a sort of “bragging right” in the polity, is for so-called “activists” to ruffle the feathers of the government, so they could be taken in by security operatives, locked up, and made “popular” by default.

 

 

Sowore’s case could be likened to that of Absolom Frederick Jordan, as told in “The Anderson Papers,” written by Jack Anderson (a Pulitzer Prize winner for his investigative reporting), with George Clifford.

 

 

In the chapter on “The FBI Story” in the provocative work “from the files” of Mr. Anderson, the authors note that, “For some, having a file with the FBI has become a status symbol,” as related below:

 

 

 

“Absolom Frederick Jordan, a Black United Front member in Washington, D.C., greeted the FBI agents with a satisfied smile. It had taken them altogether too long, he complained, to get around to him. Their confidential report says: ‘Jordan stated he was somewhat hurt that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had not interviewed him. He remarked that practically all of his friends in the BUF had been contacted and he could not understand why he had not been interviewed.’”

 

 

The Black United Front’s ideals for “struggle for self-determination, liberation and power for Black people in the United States,” put them on the FBI radar. So, being “interviewed” means invited for questioning over their activities.

 

 

As regards Sowore, he wasn’t only grilled, but detained by the Department of State Services (DSS), which has obtained a court permission to keep him for 45 days, rather than for 24 (or 48) hours prescribed by law. The detainee has appealed the court order.

The #RevolutionIsNow organizers’s action may have confirmed the allegation that the government was intolerant of criticisms, and protests against its handling of the nation’s affairs.

 

 

Could the administration have managed the situation differently? Surely, as firstly, it had the chance to advance the rule of law by obtaining a court injunction to stop the “revolutionary” march.

 

 

Similarly, a warrant could have sufficed in extending Sowore’s quizzing, and detention beyond 24 or 48 hours. It’s the first step, which the DSS sought later.

 

 

The Presidency has, however, declared as “victory for democracy” the abysmal outing for the “revolution” only in four states, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, and with lean crowds.

 

 

Does the size really matter? The government, by the manner of its approach, has allowed organizers of #RevolutionIsNow, especially Sowore, to claim, from the DSS cooler, “triumph” for the August 5 crusade, and a nationwide awareness for its cause!





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