Saturday, 19 February 2011

Nigeria & the lessons from post-Mubarak Egypt

By Hugo Odiogor
Lord Palmerston once said that the enduring principle of understanding the behaviour of states between and among themselves in the highly unpredictable arena is that “there are no permanent friends, or permanent enemies, but permanent interests.”
The swing of political pendulum in Egypt’s power circles penultimate Friday dumped Mr. Muhammed Hosni Mubarak in the cold after the 18-day street protests that rocked the hub of Arab politics. His old ally, the United States (US) had to quickly switch camp, to the winning side, because its interest in the region could not  be jeopardised.
While political scientists are concerned about the consequences of the rise of people’s power in the context of globalisation, sovereignty and emerging socio-political dynamics of Arab world, social psychologists are looking at the structural and social forces that precipitated the social change in this part of the world where religious indoctrination and dogmatism, entrenched social habits, values and world views, crass propaganda and symbolic interactionism have played key role evolving and sustaining a college of political dictators and egocentric serial human rights abusers.
From Tunisia to Egypt, from Algeria to Bahrain, from Yemen to Jordan, the oppressed hoipoiloi in the Arab world have found a voice to challenge their oppressors and, in the process, challenging the docile people of Nigeria that the images of the people  in the streets across the Arab world may seem to be a distant TV reality show, orchestrated and dramatised by the cable news networks, but the  images of a people that have decided to take their destiny in their  own hands.
The  maxim that “those who wait for  their  heads to  be used to break coconut, may not live to take in eating of the coconut after all,” seems to be playing itself out on the  streets with those who believe it is better to die fighting for their freedom than live a life of servitude.
Put differently, there are so many Mohammed Bouazizis in Nigeria today who are drowning their frustrations in the escape route in European leagues, waiting for Deus ex machina. There are millions of Nigerian youths who pin their hope of escape from deprivations and poverty on visa lottery schemes and other grand deception being foisted on them by marketing promotion gimmicks.
Another class believes  in the miracle of instant prosperity from  reality television shows, faith clinics and prosperity messages from the pulpits. But these are different levels of illusion of miserable existence, because, as Nigeria’s former External Affairs Minister, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, explains, “you must believe and live or die for something sooner or later.”
According to him, whatever is providing Nigerians the elixir to carry on is only a temporal relief because when the chips are down, the conditions of dryness of the soul, the agony of deprivation are bound to take their toll on the crushing poverty  amid plenty, the depersonalisation of the Nigerian persona, and the make-belief scam called democratic governance that helps to sustain the grand deception foisted on the masses will be called to question.
This is the dangerous spectacle that the rise of people’s  power has thrown before Nigerians who were stirred to action in February by the Save Nigeria Group. Dr. Charles Dokubo of NIIA argues that what is happening in the Arab world can indeed, happen in Nigeria and in other parts of Africa where the political leaderships have excluded the people from the political process and the benefits that should come from popular participation, which has eluded Nigeria the past 12 years where less than five per cent of the population has held the rest of the population captive.
Professor Pat Utomi, the presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Mega Party, was among the first to predict “the revenge of the poor” which may come in the form of the people’s power, as what is happening in the Arab world was not expected, neither is the social conditions that precipitated the struggle for better life exclusive to that region. According to Utomi, Nigerians now live under a condition with mother and daughter sharing wrappers, while the rich employ the impoverished citizens to watch over them.
Akinyemi told Sunday Vanguard that the divisiveness in the Nigerian socio-political order may not give Nigerians the desired unity of purpose, vision, goal, leadership and interest to pursue a people’s revolution that can liberate Nigerians from the hands of the political elite who have no consideration for the privations of the people.
The Mohammed Bouazizi type of self- immolation that turned the political systems in Tunisia and Egypt is seen as a distant phenomenon in Nigeria, where the poor resort to transfer of aggression using ethnicity, religious and other forms of cleavages to attack their kind rather than address the super structure of their  impoverishment.
To Professor Kayode Soremekun, “the lessons for the Nigerian leaders is that America, which has also been  swift to condemn any form of military intervention in politics  anywhere in the world, has turned its eyes away from the military arrangement in the post-Mubarak Egypt because  it has to secure its interests  in Egypt and in the Middle East”. The United States will accept a devil that can secure its interests and values in any part of the world than any angel that will mess things up for her.
It is, therefore, important to think that the political corruption leadership and bad governance in Nigeria will survive for a day longer when Nigerians step into the streets to say enough is enough. This is the danger that Nigerian political actors have failed to see in the unfolding events in the Middle- East.
Although  Akinyemi identified common language and culture, dominant racial and religious identities as factors that  may have played a significant role in sustaining the struggle in the Arab world, the most potent force seems to be worsening human condition where a few individuals like Ben Ali and Mubarak allegedly stashed away billions for themselves  and their families, while the rest of the country wallowed  in penury.
This same condition exists in Nigeria and moreso compounded by the mindless stealing of the commonwealth, and corruption that pervades the entire social nexus. Nigeria is ripe for shaking and Pastor Enoch Adeboye has raised a voice to say that evil  men will not rule Nigeria again, and 2011 may see the fulfilment of this prophecy.
While Nigerian leaders may give little attention to the events in the Middle-East a passing attention, Israel is closely watching the military cronies of the disgraced Mubarak try to sort out the mess in Cairo.
Already, the constitution has been  suspended and the political structure left by Mubarak scrapped, to pave the way for the formation of a new order that will give the people of Egypt the opportunity to have a say in the way  they are governed.
The development in Cairo means a lot to the US and Israel because whatever status quo that emerges in Egypt must keep the Middle East peace treaty of 1978 between Egypt and Israel which has  been the bedrock of Israeli’s national security. Before the accord, the two countries had fought three wars in 1948, 1967 and 1973.
The 1973 Yom Kippur war threatened Israel to its very foundation that the Jewish state cannot afford to take a passive interest in what happens in Egypt between now and the next six months.
The freezing of the bank accounts of Mubarak by Switzerland is seen by analysts as  the old trick by the European country  to steal the loot of another African leader  kept in their custody.
Diplomatic sources told Sunday Vanguard that  the experiences of 1979 in Iran strongly influenced the U.S acceptance of the coming of the military in Egypt, to create a level-playing field that the National Democratic Party (NDP) has denied the opposition in the past 30 years.
The U.S was concerned that there are forces in Egypt that have dubious agenda and would capitalise on the flux state of affairs, to emerge as a monster in future.
Beyond the fact that Nigeria sent aircraft to remove its citizens from danger in Egypt, Nigeria’s foreign policy-makers have no idea of how to respond to the unfolding scenario in Egypt. “We have no position yet because we are studying the environment.
We know that Egypt is a very influential member of AU, and the power house of the Arab world, we have an active population that shares the values and civilisation of the Arab world as well as the Judaic and Christian faith. What we are happy about is that Egyptians reacted to their situation collectively and did not batter themselves along religious divide, they rose up as one people,” a source said.
Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa are the dominant powers in African politics and, as such, Nigeria must be interested in how Egypt is shaping up.
But, above that, the way social and human rights activists organised the protest, the method of mobilizing the protesters, the role of social media such as Youtube, Tweeter, Facebook, e-mail in precipitating the social change are things that call for closer study. The restraint  of the security agents whose duty was to protect the state did not display fascistic behaviours to sustain an expired Mubarak brand in global political arena.
 http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/02/nigeria-post-mubarak-egypt/
http://twitter.com/#!/Newgenafrica
http://www.ckrbs.co.uk/
UNIQUELY AFRICAN! UNIQUELY YOU!!

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