IS REVOLUTION STARTING FROM THE NORTH?
Revolution, the rejection of an existing order and the quest for a new one, does not happen instantaneously. Revolution starts as a gradual process. It builds itself up, little by little, until it gets to its crescendo and overwhelms the entire landscape. Revolution takes some people unawares, those who fail to understand the signal, who fail to read the handwriting on the wall.
Some people are still expecting, waiting, or looking forward for Karl Mark or Frederick Engels to come out from their graves, sound the trumpet, or blow the bugle, to announce the commencement of revolution in Nigeria, not knowing that revolution has started, is already here with us.
For the past couple of years, Northern Nigeria is seen as the sick child of the country. People in that part of Nigeria have been revolting and agitating for one reason or the other. They have been restive and troubled. There is practically no major town in the North that has not experienced or witnessed one form of crisis or the other.
Starting from the Kano Matisine religious crisis of the 1980s, to several other religious and sectarian crises that happened in Kaduna, Zaria, Kafanchan, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Jimeta, Jalingo, Gboko, Bauchi, Gombe, Ilorin, Minna, Jos, Zango Kataf, etc., the North is always on the firing line, fighting both themselves and outsiders as well.
Now, come the current and most damaging ones – the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East; the banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling in the North West; and the herders-farmers clashes in the North Central or the Middle Belt. All these combined, have made Northern Nigeria the hotbed, the most troubled part of the country, and the most dangerous place to visit. Some European countries have issued travel warnings to their citizens not to near this area.
Specifically, Boko Haram insurgency, which took the entire North East zone, and up to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, by storm, has left some ugly scars in the body of many people and some woeful tales like killings, kidnappings, abductions, destruction of houses and properties, etc., on the lips of many others. For the past seven years or more, the government has been battling, tooth and nail, to keep this group at bay, or get them defeated, all to no avail.
In the North west states of Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna, etc., the government appears to have been completely overwhelmed by the activities of bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and ethnic militia groups who daily kidnap, maim, kill, and make life very uncomfortable for most people living in the area.
In the North Central zone or the Middle Belt states of Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, and Taraba, the cattle herders-farmers clashes have become daily occurrences, with several reports of killings, maiming and burning down of houses as well as destruction of valuable properties.
Come the Shi’ites, or members of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky led Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMM), who are now painful sores in the throat of the federal government. Since about four years ago when their leader, El Zakzaky, was incarcerated, the group has not let both the police and the military know any peace. They have been up in arms against the federal government, and insisted that their leader must be released from government custody or nothing else.
Sometimes, some people are tempted to separate these crises, to see them as “isolated cases”, apologies to our President, and as not connected or linked to each other. But they are very wrong. These crises are not only inter-connected or inter-linked, but also point to the basic fact that their underlying factor is poverty, which has been entrenched, and which has assumed an alarming proportion in the country, and particularly in the northern part of the country.
For these people, the restiveness or the protestations in the North, are the only way they could possibly express their dislike for the poverty that has engulfed the country. It is a way of venting their anger on a system that has brought unjust social, economic and political order in the land.
Frantz Fanon, the Martiniquean born, Algerian based revolutionary writer, had established relationship between poverty and violence. According to Fanon, violence is “a cleansing force”. It “frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his inaction”.
So, the best and only way to express the enormity of poverty in the land is through religious and sectarian crises witnessed in the North. It is a testimony to the fact that poverty is more pronounced, more endemic, and has assumed an alarming proportion in the northern part of the country. That is why the people are more restive, more agitated, and more troubled than the other parts of the country. The restiveness in the North therefore, is a vote of no confidence on the existing situation in the country. It is a revolution against the existing social and economic order.
In other words, the current religious and sectarian crises in different parts of the country, particularly in the North, is a warning signal that revolution has started, and therefore that those in authority should hurry up to put their houses in order before the conflagration engulfs the entire system, before the entire country is up in flames.