Nigeria, a country of considerable Land mass of approximately 397, 920 square kilometers being bounded in the South by the Bight of Biafra, in the East by the Republic of Cameroon, in the West the Republic of Benin while in the North by the Republic of Niger is made up of between 250 and 300 Linguistic groups.
These groups had been in existence before the formal being of the country in January 1st, 1914. This means in effect the various linguistic groups can be traced back to prior Colonialism. They lived together in the past, though they speak different languages. For instance, the Igbo who resided in dispersed groups of villages are not a single people but numbered over hundred groups or tribes, lived with other neighbours. The Igbo had historical relations with the regions West of it across the Niger and North of it to Benue. Aside, such a linguistic group found it expedient to trade with other neighbours since a society cannot stay on her own.
Similarly, the Yorubas and the Hausas lived among other linguistic groups. Thus before the emergence of Ethnicity, it was not uncommon to see the Southerners and the Northerners living together in harmony. Reasonable links existed between the Hausa land and old Oyo before the Sokoto Jihad. The capital of old Oyo, Katunga otherwise known as Oyo Ile was strategically placed within the Savannah Zone for easy communication with Nupe, Borgu and other kingdoms to the North and South.
This Article is aimed at evaluating the nature and behaviour of the two major characters in the Nigerian body polity, the government on the one hand and the people on the other hand. And then suggesting solutions for a better Democratic society.
According to Karl Marx, in his Communist Manifesto (1948), He maintained that ” The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles, the Freeman and the Slave, the patrician and the plebeian, the lord and the serf, the guild master and the journeyman, the oppressor and the oppressed, Literally the Government and the governed stood in constant opposition to each other”
This is because societies in the past had undergone historical materialism.
Looking critically into the Nigerian body polity, it would be understood without gainsaying that the Government has for long succeeded in relegating the people to the background. This position is easily grasped when we consider the Political Behaviours of Nigerians.
According to Graham Wallas, He asserts that “The study of Politics is nothing without the study of man, for man’s personality and behavioural patterns dominate the development of political actions.
A comprehensive analysis of Nigerian politics just as in some other countries of the world could be made through a political Behaviour approach. This approach is neccessary because Government is conceived as a process made up of the actions and interactions of men and groups of men.
In a society which is made up of the Elite (The Government) and the (Proletariat) that is the people, such political Behaviour is easily located between these two classes. What we see glaringly is that in Nigeria, the masses are those with the least power. They have been rendered politically impotent but because of money and thuggery introduced into the nation’s body polity, these poverty strickened masses are often recruited by political elites as thugs, most of the masses who regard themselves as not belonging to the political elite group believes they have to sell their Voting rights. Some others are of the belief that after all, I cannot kill myself, Why must I waste my time Voting when a winner is already predetermined by the Electoral Umpire through the common process of Rigging.
My secondary school knowledge of Government taught me that Democracy is government of the people by the people and for the people. Although some scholars believed that Government can only be of the people and for the people in Nigeria, and can never be by the people. These set of scholars contends with the philosophy of ‘Roberto Michell’ that “Every human organisation is dominated by a small, coercive and tight-night elite that controls the instrument of government”. This same elite determines who wins at every polls.
About two weeks ago when the ENDSARS PROTEST started, it appeared that the Youths who the president addressed as Lazy Youths have waken from their deep slumber. It started out with ENDSARS! ENDPOLICE BRUTALITY! as a result of the ruthless and inhuman treatment the average Nigerian youths suffer in the hands of the Nigerian police and the SARS Unit of the police force. So sad! The police that is constitutionally responsible to protect the lives of the citizenry. Gradually, the protest metamorphosed and gained more momentum by the day.
In reaction to the request of the people, Mr. President summoned the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu. Some days later, the news of SWAT filled the air. According to the IGP, SWAT means Special Weapons and Tactics Unit. Without stress, the people knew that SWAT is just a change of nomenclature. It is the same wine in a different bottle. This development further triggered the ENDSARS PROTEST across various metropolis in the country. At this point, the people began to demand more from the Government.
On 20-10-2020, the unimaginable happened, after the curfew imposed by Mr. Governor, the ENDSARS PROTESTERS at the Lekki Toll point, one of the most conspicuous, coordinated and peaceful Protest ground in the country, refused to leave, maintaining that Curfew means to remain wherever you are whenever it is imposed. For that reason they would not disperse from the protest ground until the demand of the people is met.
At around 7:00Pm, reports had it that all the lights around the Toll gate were put off, leaving the protesters in the dark. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the protesters began to hear the scary sounds of guns non stop. It was the men on Kacki that were ordered to kill peaceful, unarmed protesters.
The Governor in his unremorseful Adress to the people early hours of 21st October 2020, maintained that “No sitting Governor has the power to control the military forces…” on that note he knows nothing about the Genocide, Crimes against humanity committed by the men on uniform. In fact, he said No fatalities were recorded. I respectfully dare the Governor to come out again and tell us who has the power to control the operation of the military force in a state.
Who is to blame for the attitude of the Nigerian government towards the people? I was personally disappointed in the 2019 General Election, seeing that Nigerians were once again forced to make a choice between Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, what happen to the other candidates? Are we saying that Buhari and Atiku are the best candidates for the office of presidency? What happen to other political parties? Are we not tired of APC and PDP? Are we not tired of the old persons ruling us in this country? What happens if the teeming youths form their own political party? Has the concept of Separation of power been expunged from our Constitution? Cant an irresponsible President or Governor be checked again?
Nigeria, a country rich in minerals and natural resources, a country full of innumerable number of professors, uncountable number of PhD degree holders, large number of Masters degree holders and other professional qualifications, Many CEOs and successful business tycoons. Where are all these persons?
I have not seen a President or Governor Addressing the people without reading from a paper in Nigeria. Is that how poor we are? Does our Presidents and Governors really mean those promises they read to us from papers?
Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo once angrily said that the people of Nigeria are not worthy of dying for, all they care about is their daily bread and shelters of wretched types. Could Awolowo be saying the truth? May be that is why our so-called leaders does not respect us, probably that is why the people is omitted in the calculation of the government. How on earth would a Director of a commission come out openly to say that Snake swallowed money in his office? It is only in Nigeria that a person summoned to give account would collapse while giving account. It is disgraceful of a sitting Governor to say to the people that elected him into office that powers beyond his control ordered for their massacre only for demanding for their rights. Can’t a people demand for a better life again?
I conclude by calling on all reasonable Nigerians, teeming youths to continue to demand for our rights in the hand of the Government, afterall, we elected them to govern us.
I am not advocating for violence, dialogue is a beautiful means of engaging the government, where this method fails, then peaceful protests is inevitable, where the government still neglects its people then I foresee a Revolution.
An animal that the owner refuses to feed would before that same owner turn notorious and brutal, and then face its owner.
Yusuph Olanrewaju is a final year Law student from Lagos State University, LASU.