“The history of liberty is a history of resistance”(Thomas Woodrow, 1812).
Freedom of any kind (political, economical, health and freedom from all kinds of oppression) is an expensive project. It does not come easy. There is always a price to pay for freedom. During the Second World War, the allies incurred a heavy cost to defeat Adolf Hitler’s third Reich. A country like Russia lost over 27 million people. This is both the military and civilians. In a single attack (Pearl Harbor) American lost over 3684 solders. United Kingdom lost over 400,000 people. In total, the allied forces lost over 60 million people (both military and civilians). The financial cost of this war cannot be quantified. This was the price paid to free Europe and the rest of the world.
During the colonial era, Nigerian nationalist incurred a cost to achieve independence for Nigeria. Starting from Herbert Macauley, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Enahoro, Tafawa Belewa, Okotie Eboh, Aminu Kano, etc made both personal and financial sacrifices to liberate Nigeria from the British colonial rule. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail in order for South Africans to be free from apartheid. So many South Africans died in the struggle against apartheid. In Zimbabwe, people like Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo had to wage guerrilla warfare before the British colonial masters were able to grant them independence.
During the military era in Nigeria, many people paid a costly price for speaking against military dictatorship. Gani Fawehinmi was arrested, detained, and sent to jail several times for criticism of military dictatorship. He was beaten several times by the government agents. His international passport was seized on many occasions. Dele Giwa was killed through a letter bomb. Femi Falana was sent to jail for voicing against tyrannical rule. Olisa Agbakoba was interrogated several times by the police. Late Dr Beko Ransome Kuti, late Ken Saro Wiwa, Chief Frank Ovie Kokori, Chima Ubani, Mr Abdul Oroh, Tunji Abayomi, Sylvester Odion-Akhaine, Mallam Shehu Sani, Prof Wole Soyinka, Omoyele Sowore etc had at one time or the other paid a price for speaking out against military dictatorship in Nigeria.
During the struggle to actualize the victory of June 12 1993 presidential election, many Nigerians died in the riots that ensured. Kudirat Abiola was assassinated on June 4 1996, by the government agents. Abiola himself died in detention. The country was plunged into a political crisis, the magnitude of which was unprecedented. NADECO opposed the Abacha regime and other oppressive governments. They suffered loses both financial, material and brutal torture in some cases. G 34(group of 34 eminent Nigerians) added their voices for Abacha to hand over power to civilians. But the truth is that, without the prices paid by these heroes and heroines, Nigeria would have been worst than it is today. Therefore their efforts yielded positive results.
When Obasanjo was campaigning for both his first and second terms in office, many Nigerians donated money to his campaign machinery. Former governor of Abia State claimed publicly to have given Obasanjo $1 million dollars before the 1999 elections that brought Obasanjo back to power. Dangote also donated money to Obasanjo campaign organization. People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has organized fund raising events several times. Even though the use their money to subvert the will of the people. They use their money to rig elections. It’s also a price paid by some people but on a negative way.
The whole idea of this article is to highlight to patriotic Nigerians that there would more prices to pay to get Nigeria on the right track. I am also aware that so many Nigerians want change. Change is possible in Nigeria but we have to work hard to get that change. There is no democracy yet in Nigeria which means that, there is no political freedom as well. This makes it imperative for us to gear up and pay whatever price it requires to get us to the promise land. It also means that we should resist all forms of bad governance and speak out against such. I will like to remind fellow Nigerians that no one will save our country except us. Quoting John Maxwell, “the only person that can stop you from becoming what God intends for your life is you”. There are a lot Nigerians can do to help our great country bounce back to the right track. The Nigerian people have got so much power individually. These our political oppressors do not want us to realize.
I wish to suggest few ways Nigerians can take their destinies by their hands. Please look for a genuine civil society group, or form your own group and the join the campaign clamoring for political changes. Form alliances with existing political groups/civil societies groups. Identify yourself or your group with honest Nigerians. Support credible Nigerians to acquire political power. Ask the civil society groups or any sincere political group to assign you role to undertake. Be an active participant. Make token donations to these civil society groups. If our political oppressors can donate millions of naira to the PDP in order to capture power through undemocratic means. We the other ordinary Nigerians should be able to donate our token to the civil societies, NGO’s, political groups, etc to use in checking the political oppressors. Justice can be expensive to obtain especially within the Nigerian system.
No amount will be too small to donate to genuine political groups in order for them to continue the struggle to better Nigeria. When President Obama was campaigning for elections, his campaign organization accepted even $1 dollar donation from people. Some groups in Nigeria headed by Mrs. Ndi Okereke (DG Nigerian Stock Exchange) raised money for Obama campaign, but it was declined. In addition to this, about 30% of Obama campaign team was Nigerians. If Nigerians can do this for Obama, then they can do more for their motherland. Before the 1991 Gulf war, all the Palestinians working in Saudi Arabia had their taxes sent to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) headquarters for their liberation struggle.
There will be no gain without a pain. There will be no political freedom without a political struggle. The Nigeria’s political environment requires more positive sacrifices from us. There will be no full democratic governance in Nigeria without complete resistance to corrupt and inefficient system that we have in Nigeria. Our sacrifices will enhance the demand for our rights (good governance) and not to beg for them. We need to fight for our rights (democracy, good governance, etc) and not plead for them. May God bless Nigeria.
Chinedu Vincent Akuta
An activist and leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK