The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) are United Nations treaties that Nigeria has ratified since July 29, 1993. On December 9, 2003 Nigeria went a step further and ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Under international law, we are legally bound as a nation to provide and guarantee to every citizen, these inalienable, indivisible, equal and interdependent rights. With over 500 billion dollars in revenue from oil, do we as a nation have any excuse for the state of our people today? Can we describe our actions so far as consistent gross violations of these treaties? Who should be held accountable? What should we do next?
The mission before us as nation states in Africa is of immense proportions and involves creating a MIND SHIFT amongst our people in order to birth a new desired economic and political order. In Nigeria, it is a daunting task, but a possible one and we can accomplish this through the coordinated actions of great revolutionary Nigerians in what we’ve now termed the GREEN REVOLUTION!
I addressed a group of SSS-3 students of Bonny National Grammar school on March 19, 2010 (on the platform of MIND SHIFT CONSORTIUM) and shared with them a picture of what they could, and will turn Nigeria into in a thoroughly engaging 90 minute session. I was overwhelmed by the sheer energy and conviction exhibited by these young Wole Soyinkas, Philip Emeagwalis, Mark Zuckerbergs and Sergey Brins in the making.
Despite the impossible situation in this school that had only 8 government-employed teachers (for a student population of more than 500 students, often depending on corpers and part-time teachers to make up the huge vacuum), I saw highly intelligent students with hope written all over their faces. I did not need any more convincing that the Corporate Titans and National Leaders of the New Nigeria were here, and all they require is a MIND SHIFT to help focus their energy accurately for their strategic roles and responsibilities in building this country from the ground up. They are very much aware of the challenges, and are ready to take them on. However, these brilliant young Nigerians require guidance and adult supervision, which every available mature revolutionary should be more than willing to provide to every single youngster.
What is a SHIFT? To SHIFT means to move somebody or something from an old position to a new and different position.
The old position in Nigeria – Indifference, tolerance of evil, complaints, ineffective talk and occasional action
The new position in Nigeria – Aggressive campaigns, mass action, revolt against incompetence, demand for accountability, zero tolerance for election rigging
I’m a firm believer (meaning that I advocate and execute corresponding action in line with my professed belief) in the fact that African nations have the inherent potential to develop, and ultimately come out of poverty of mind, soul and the environment. I may not be able to predict accurately how soon, but I’m certain development is inevitable. What I can guarantee is that after a critical-mass of revolutionaries has been attained, then the inflection point (change that even the worst international critics cannot gainsay) is within striking distance or ‘killing range’( as U.S. Secret Service agents love to call it!)
The root cause of underdevelopment and poverty isn’t really the lack of infrastructure and basic amenities. Maybe it isn’t our political leaders, corporate thieves or rebel groups. If sky-scrappers, educational facilities, water treatment plants and power stations suddenly appeared all over our continent today, would they be there 5 years from now? Or perhaps, if the proverbial geographical exchange takes place between Africa and the U.S. (i.e. all Africans go to America, and all Americans come over to Africa), what would happen in a few years? These are hard questions that need answers.
I believe the critical difference between prosperity and poverty is in the underlying thinking and attitudes of a people - a product of their culture and values. I’ve heard preachers say that it is an extremely harder task to change a man’s point of view, than to cast out devils from a possessed individual. I believe that assertion is accurate. Therefore, we have a task to break the hold of tradition over our people, and help them transit from apathy to having a sense of responsibility for their national outcomes.
One of the other missing links in our efforts to salvage our nation, in my judgment has been Coordinated Action!
Coordinated Action is a series of intense, fierce, aggressive, unrelenting but peaceful activities wrought by a movement of resilient people demanding for their inalienable rights. They are led by a decentralized but very tightly integrated leadership. Simple examples are the Gandhi and MLK movements of India and the U.S. respectively.
I do believe we are now maturing as a people, faster than ever before and are making the critical alliances that will have the reach and power to topple and destroy the enmeshed leviathan of big-stouting and pepper-souping political cults and power bases in our society (to borrow some expressions from Patrick Obahiagbon).
I’ve been doing some intense study on the history and economic development of nations (emphasis on African nations) and the plethora of post colonial events and upheavals that have shaped and evolved the present day society before us today. Many of us are familiar with the peculiar African trends and it’s predominantly a tragic one, but I do believe it’s important for us to understand the waves of revolutions that have taken place so that we can accurately judge the impacts they’ve had on our society.
We’ve had Oil, diamond and natural resource conflicts in Angola, Nigeria, Sudan, DRC, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra-Leone and others. We’ve had eternal dictatorships in almost every African state. We’ve had hundreds of rebel groups fighting their respective (and sometimes neighboring) governments. We’ve witnessed Apartheid and extreme oppression by national leaders resulting in ethnic deprivations, hunger, forced migrations, extreme living conditions, mass executions and even genocide. (I remember Burundi/Rwanda. One foreign government kept describing the mass executions in Rwanda as “acts of genocide” and then one puzzled journalist asked thus – how many acts of genocide does it take for us to have one genocide?) We’ve also had resource rich regions experiencing un-imaginable levels of under-development and neglect. The list is endless.
However, I’m not certain all these past experiences and nightmares have had the right effect on a higher percentage of our vast populations. There is still that visible conservative and laid back attitude that pervades the continent. Many still embrace archaic, ineffective and wasteful traditions that have no place in the present age. We seem to hope for a better tomorrow by committing our future into the hands of a heavenly being who will one day hear our cries and send down help from glory. I believe in the spiritual (because it is even more real than the physical), but the law of the human medium cannot be violated. In explicit terms, everything that would happen in society and in this physical realm would have to be wrought through the hands and abilities of human beings. (Things may change after the messianic return takes place, but today is here and it beckons on us to take action!)
The truth is that the help we seek has long been around us, and has merely awaited our recognition. In simple terms, our day of deliverance is in our control and will come when a sufficient number of us tire-out, and decide to revolt against all forms of incompetence. People power is something no government in the entire universe can defeat. This is evident in the Orange revolution (Ukraine 2004/2005), the ROSE revolution (In Georgia - 2003) and the revolt against Slobodan Milosevic (In Serbia – 2000).
Critical lessons from these revolutions (such as in Ukraine) is that we can firmly resist and denounce the incumbent lethargy in our political and economic systems, and bring about change without bloodshed. Sustainable change however constitutes a different challenge that must be addressed concurrently. I was bewildered by the recent happenings in Ukraine. The same Victor Yanukovych that the Orange revolution prevented from rigging the presidency in 2005 has now become president in 2010. It seems a sustainable MIND SHIFT may not have taken place amongst the Ukrainian people, because I don’t understand how a widely reported ex-convict could gain the presidency in a free and fair election. I may not have the moral grounds to analyze the internal matters of Ukraine, but I believe there’s an important lesson for us in here.
Our GREEN REVOLUTION is here. We are the players on ground and coordination must begin in earnest. The mind shift and succession planning required to prevent us from allowing our new gains to be eroded in future must be built into our youngsters from now. We must take ownership of this process, and establish multiple platforms for Coordinated Action.
In the words of William Jefferson – I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.