The Danger of uncontrolled Change, By Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua
By Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua
I had written an article that I titled, “Aligning Purpose to Planning”, that I published on Facebook about three weeks ago. In that article I stated the fact that Time and Change were two fundamental forces of nature that one must manage in other to establish God’s purpose for one’s life here on planet earth (in other words, succeed). I said they were crucial because they are the only guaranteed forces in nature. Time will move with or without you, while change must happen irrespective of where you are. Today, I’ll be paying a little more attention to change.
Change is inherent, and more often than not, predictable. Everything; plants, animals, the environment and man will change naturally. However whilst the change that happens in plants, animals and the environment are impulsive or reactionary, that of man is different. Mankind is the only creation of God with the power to determine and design the change he desires. Animals don’t have this power, as they function mainly on instincts and impulse. Humans were not designed to be impulsive, because God gave them the power of will.
This power can be a curse or a blessing. This power of will, when exercised rightly can be a blessing, and when exercised wrongly can be dangerous. The late Abraham Lincoln who served as the 16th President of the United States of America from 1861 to 1865 when he was assassinated, exercised this will in 1864 as President by calling for the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America to immediately abolish slavery and involuntary servitude. Also, the late Mary Mitchell Slessor (1848 – 1915), exercised this power of will, when as a Christian Missionary serving in Calabar, Nigeria, she campaigned and fought vigorously against the ignorant sacrificial killing of twins in eastern Nigeria in the 19th century. Her crusade led to the abolishment of that barbaric act. The late Nelson Mandela exercised this will in 1958 when he elected to to join others to protest against pass laws, an action that led to his famous treason trial in 1960, and subsequent incarceration for 27 years. This very action was the pivot of all activities that birthed the collapse of apartheid, and enthronement of majority rule in South Africa today. It is of course no longer news that Nelson Mandela deservedly became the first beneficiary of his tenacity by serving as the first post-apartheid President of South Africa. History is replete with landmark exercises of the power of will by men and women of thoughts that has led to the current world advancement and peace today. However, men like Hitler, Napoleon, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Odimegwu Ojukwu of Nigeria, Assad of Syria and many more also exercised this power of will and left misery, catastrophe, and millions dead in the wake of their decisions. An attestation that uncontrolled change can be destructive. We will get to that in a minute
In the past few weeks in Nigeria, the media space (mainstream and social) has been awash with conversations centered on the recent call by Mr. Omoyele Sowore (former Presidential candidate of AAC in the March 2019 General elections), and some others, for revolution in Nigeria. Precisely about a month ago, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, donning an orange beret (reminiscent of the orange beret that symbolized the Ukrainian Revolution of 2004), granted an interview to Arise News hosted by Mr. Reuben Abati, a former spokesman to former President Goodluck Jonathan. It will interest you to know that Mr. Reuben Abati ran unsuccessfully for the position of deputy governor in Ogun state, under the PDP in the March 2019 elections. In that interview, Mr Sowore who is the founder and Chief Executive of Sahara Reporters, an online news medium, allegedly called out Nigerian citizens to a revolution. While responding to a leading question from Reuben Abati (understandably), Mr. Sowore allegedly said that, “since elections could no longer guarantee change in the country as made clear by the last March 2019 elections, it was time the citizens took their destinies in their own hands, and must have a revolution in this country, particularly if they don’t want war”. He also explained in that same interview, that the orange beret symbolized militancy. He further decried the high level of insecurity in the country, claiming that the word, ‘herdsmen’ was a metaphor for how people feel under siege. He went further to say you could divide herdsmen into political herdsmen, economic herdsmen, etc. He said the bottom line was that the country was not working, and the time had come for the people to be mobilized, and the country taken back from its feudal lords and given back to its owners – the people, and the time was now.
It is thus clear from that interview, that Mr. Sowore did call out people to revolt, with the aim of wrestling power from the present administration. Subsequent videos he released in this regard, marches, mobilizations, etc, in the following days not only supported the call but conformed to a well thought out plan. The Department of State Security Services eventually arrested him, charged him to a Federal Court for treason, which authorized his remand in prison custody for 45 days while investigation continued.
The arrest has been criticized by some people as a breach of the fundamental human rights of Mr. Sowore, while some others believe it was the right thing to do. Even those who criticize the arrest are not denying the call to revolution by Mr. Sowore, but are saying that it was just words spoken, and that he may have meant differently. So let’s examine the word revolution. The word, ‘revolution’, noun, has two meanings according to the online dictionary:
0. A forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system. Synonyms: rebellion, revolt, insurrection, mutiny, uprising, riot, insurgence, etc.
0. An instance of revolving. Synonyms: rotation, turn, circle, whirl, twirl, spin, wheel, roll, round, etc.
From the above, it is crystal that Mr. Sowore used the word in the context of the former, and his protagonists and apologists, for lack of better thing to say, decided to pay lip service to the issue. The Global Coalition for Security and Democracy, erudite lawyer, Femi Falana, and others have argued that Sowore and indeed Nigerians, have a right under the constitution and democracy, to protest. That may be true, but, there is, however, a difference between peaceful protest and an incitement to revolution, according to the Government. Sowore’s antecedents as a former student union and political activist, and recent campaign slogan of, “take it back” provide credence to the incitement to revolution. I also doubt strongly that Sowore is one to live in denial. He indeed made the call.
I do not know him closely, but I have listened to him talk severally, at interviews, rally, etc. He is not one to denounce himself easily.
Are things at their best in our country? Far from it. There is currently failure across board in the country. Yes, life has become tougher over the years. More Nigerians are getting poorer while a few are getting stupendously wealthier. The inequality gap is leaping into astronomical proportion. Insecurity has become more rampant in recent times, owing to increase in unemployment with its attendant increase in crime. Corrupt individuals are flying without perching (drawing the metaphor from Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart), despite the current administration’s intentional fight against the monster. Yes, things are dire in the country, but it will be delusional to think the current state of affairs in the country are the result of the past four years. What we have are the result of failures of over the years maladministration for the past fifty years. Have we forgotten so fast the deliberate sharing of Nigeria’s excess monies amongst government workers in the name of ‘Udoji Award’, and the FESTAC ‘77 spree in the seventies, when the country could not boast of any standard city other than Lagos (which in all honesty didn’t really qualify as a standard city), no major inter-city standard highways and rail-lines, no cutting-edge industries, etc? Have we forgotten the unbridled profligacy of the Babangida and the late Abacha eras? What about the alleged waste of $16 billion on electricity projects that can at best be described as phantom, of the Obasanjo, late Yar’Adua, and Jonathan years? The current administration is also not free from guilt. From the almost six months late start at the inception to the defeating and degrading of Boko Haram, yet the insurgents still unleash deadly attacks on civilians and even army formations, etc. Or is it the non-existent Local Government Administration across the 774 LGAs despite regular receipts of revenues from the Federation Account? Or State Governments that collected ‘bailouts’ from the magnanimous Federal Government without bailing their citizens out? The list goes on and on.
Do we need a change? The answer is obvious. But should the change come through a violent revolution like Mr. Sowore canvassed? No. Many people including my humble self, viewed his call to rebellion not long after he performed woefully at the February 2019 elections, as seeking to achieve his goal of ruling the country through the back door, and ill-timed. His purported meeting with Nnamdi Kanu, leader of proscribed IPOB in New York, USA, adds a sinister angle to the whole saga. The DSS in ordering Sowore’s arrest, asserted that, “he has crossed the line, he had threatened public safety…. Nothing will happen, there won’t be any revolution. The government, which has been elected democratically will be in place”.
Revolution of our minds? Yes. In history, the two most successful revolutions were the Agricultural Revolution of 18th and 19th centuries in Europe which revolutionized crop productivity through technology, and the Industrial Revolution which revolutionized manufacturing processes in Europe and America between 1760 and 1840. These are examples of the revolution of the mind. The world has advanced. What we call democratic experiment in Nigeria is now 20 years old, it is no longer an experiment, it has come to stay. In spite of everything that’s one major achievement, we must all strive to sustain it. There is a corollary to the word revolution, it is called dialogue. Yes, the likes of the Fidel Castro-led Cuban Revolution in Cuba, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and some few others seemed to have achieved their purpose, but not without dialogue and negotiations. On the other hand the misery and unwanton deaths left behind by many failed and unnecessary revolutions are immeasurable., and still having its toll on humanity. The Arab Spring, the French Revolution, the Biafran war, the Hitler genocide, the Rwandan experience, etc, like I mentioned earlier come to mind.
We have too much to lose as a people should we elect for an uprising. Notable personalities have condemned the brazen call to rebellion
The likes of Daddy Freeze, Sunday Adelaja, and many more come to mind. This is a democracy where Rule of Law holds sway. We must practice what we preach. Anarchy thrives where people take laws into their hands, and nothing happens. That is impunity. Yes, our constitution may have its flaws, but there are laid down processes to amend it, and that has happened in the past. We all have elected Representatives at the National Assembly and our various State Houses of Assembly. Let’s direct our pressures and our frustrations on them to do the needful. The mistakes of fifty years cannot be corrected in four years. Change must come because it is inevitable, but it must be gradual. For now the only lawful process of effecting a change of administration is through the ballot box. Period. Let’s abide by it. Every other disagreement and frustration must be addressed through dialogue. Let’s not yield our minds to spontaneous and uncontrolled change, as history has taught us, will NOT bring about the desired result, but also dangerous.
Engr. Dr. Emmanuel Audu-Ohwavborua (FNSE, PMP)
The author is a serving Director at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)