Why Nigerians Won’t Revolt … Yet

Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Algeria are all countries once under the thumbs of powerful dictators no one thought could be forced out — at least not in their lifetime. But Tunisia caused a domino effect. Young adults began directly influencing each other in standing up for their rights in the streets and on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Commentators began looking at Sub-Saharan Africa, wondering if Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire and even Nigeria would react similarly. While I can not comment on the situation of the other countries listed above, I can point to why I honestly don’t think Nigerians will not revolt … yet.

Nigeria emerged from military rule in 1999, after 15 years under a brutal dictatorship. At that point, there were a few occasions of revolt but none that were not eventually squashed.

Now it’s 2011 and Nigeria is on the verge of its fourth democratic election since the end of military rule. The world is looking at us for a reaction and we’re reacting with blank stares. Why wouldn’t Nigerians protest and revolt to overturn a government that has been voted in (albeit fraudulently) and has failed them consistently? While some say we would never participate in self-immolation, it’s deeper than that. The revolt that is happening is strategic and while no one’s setting himself or herself ablaze, we have a country of people protesting by taking advantage of the democracy our leaders claim to give us.

We are beginning to understand that we are no longer under a dictatorship and we have rights as a people to perform a civic duty. What I believe was our significant protest happened in January, when we went out in mass and registered to vote. While a lot of people (about 6 million) got the shaft, due to incompetent registration practices, another 73 million got their voter cards, which is double the amount of 35 million in 2007. This year people are determined to see their votes being counted. The next round of protests will happen on April 9 when people will go out to select a leader that will give them more than empty promises and short term solutions for their hunger.

Now we know Nigeria hasn’t had the history of the freest or fairest elections and people ask how will you know your vote will be counted. This is when I predict an Egypt style revolution will take place, when the votes are tallied and it doesn’t seem to quite match the voice of the people. That’s when the people will take to the street and claim the freedom that they truly deserve. The mistake I hope that our leaders will not make, is to confuse our strategy, for complacency.



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