First of all, this article is not about PDP or APC. Sorry to disappoint you. You know why? Because they’re mostly the same set of people. Some of them have cross-carpeted from one party to the other and most of them are actually graduates of the same school of politics. And they’ve both utilized the same set of tactics. It’s these tactics of oppresing the masses and preventing a revolution that we want to talk about. This is about a group of people who oppress the citizens. They’re a single cabal. They’ve sworn to run us down to the ground and even under. They’re busy squandering our destiny away and we can’t do anything about it. We’re supposed to rise in one voice and revolt against them. We’re supposed to enter the streets, keep entering their offices and houses Zombie Apocalypse-style and feeding on their flesh but we can’t. We can’t even log out of our mobile devices and waylay them on the road and pelt them with pure water sachets. Why? Why can’t we?
Revolutions have happened in many places. Why can’t the same revolution happen in Nigeria? Why can’t the oppressed wrestle their destiny from the hands of their oppressors? The answer is what you’re about to read. This is a borderline pessimistic write-up. It’s doable. I just don’t know if we’ll ever be able to do it. I don’t know if the Nigerian masses will ever be able to execute the much-deserved judgement on the ruling class.
There’s a problem with democracy in nations like ours. All the military have to suppress a revolution is brute physical force. This method can keep people down only for a while. It can’t work forever. In fact, external help may arise for the masses in such a scenario. But when the civilians are oppressing a people, it’s much more difficult to break free. The politicians’ most effective weapon is not the brute military force. They have better, more effective weapons. The weapons are subtle and underestimated but they do the work more smoothly. The politicians know how to manipulate our minds and in preventing a revolution, psychological manipulation works better than bullets.
It was easy for us to execute a revolution in the military era because we didn’t play any part in anybody’s ascent to power. A military dictator doesn’t need civilians to execute a coup. But in the democratic era, it’s near impossible to revolt. We played a part in anybody’s ascent to power. The masses voted for him. Or the masses helped him rig the elections. Or they did a combination of both for him. So it’s totally difficult for an overall political revolution to come from the masses. The voting process means that you’ve agreed that the person will spend whatever number of years in office. You can’t wake up the next day and take any action. You’ll have to wait till the expiration of the person’s tenure. Your ‘revolution’ can only take place at the next election.
And the politicians know this. They have loyalists even among the oppressed masses. These are the people who are getting certain little crumbs or promises of little crumbs from the politicians’ tables. These ones dampen the momentum that is ordinarily supposed to build and culminate into a political action. So the politicians keep their loyalists close and well leashed. It’s a machine they spend some resources to oil and service.
And they also know how to throw distractions around. Ethnicity is an effective wild card in a multi-ethnic society like ours. So they intentionally throw it around. They say something or do something that will push the masses into tribal arguments. The masses that are supposed to unite against a bad government have been divided along ethnic lines. As someone said, the greatest identity of an African is their ethnicity. Once you stimulate them into an ethnic situation, they forget about everything else and engage themselves in ethnic fisticuffs.
That’s why for instance when someone seems to be balancing ethnicity in his cabinet, everybody gets satisfied and nobody asks him to do anything further. If he fails to develop the economy or carry out any developmental program, some folks won’t complain since they’re already satisfied with the ethnic balancing in his government. That’s a big achievement already. But on the contrary, when someone shows ethnic prejudice in his government, members of opposing ethnic groups face each other, start calling one another names, and spewing lots of bile towards one another. As they’re busy doing that to one another, the politicians continue wrecking havoc.
It’s the reason why most northerners will not criticize Buhari and most south-easterners will not see anything good in Buhari’s government. It’s not because the lives of average northerners have been improved by Buhari’s government more than the lives of average south-easterners neither have the latter’s lives been worsened more than the former’s lives. They’re actually going through the same woes but they don’t mind. They forget to criticize the government that has failed to make both their lives better. Bad governance continues unchecked as the attention of the citizens who are supposed to be concerned about the governance has been directed to useless ethnic battles. The politicians intentionally stoke ethnic sentiments to keep the suffering masses so busy that they won’t think of resisting oppression. You know how you give a toddler a toy to play with so that she won’t disturb you with what you want to do? Politicians do the same.
And talking about distractions, religion is another one. As I said in an article titled ‘Poor Governance Forced Nigerians to Run to Their Gods’ (click here to read it), strong belief in a God that heals and provides jobs and security makes the citizens less motivated to hold their politicians accountable. Instead of an unemployed graduate to hold himself or the government responsible for his predicament, he holds the witches responsible. Instead of carrying a placard protesting on the street, he’s in church doing vigils for days unending. The politicians continue oppressing him unchecked: the person that’s supposed to check them has been preoccupied with God, witches, generational curses, and demons. He’s been effectively distracted. So the politicians let religion grow unchecked. They let them erect buildings anyhow they like and even anywhere they like. They let them block the major roads unchecked. They let them make profit untaxed. They even give them import waivers. And they sit in front rows of the churches. They support religion so much because it’s a good tool for distraction of the oppressed masses. The politicians know that the saying ‘Religion is opium of the oppressed’ is very true.
And when the masses strongly believe that the best way to punish their oppressing rulers is to commit them into God’s hands for judgement, the politicians can only have a field day doing whatever they want to do unchecked. How can people who just want to commit their oppressors into God’s hands revolt against the same oppressors? If you’re worried about why we can’t revolt, this one here is one of the reasons. If you’re a politician, pay those who will strengthen that belief in your subjects’ heads and you’re free from a backlash from them.
There’s a vicious cycle between poverty and political intelligence. Because politically unintelligent people will make the wrong political choices, they will never come out of poverty. And because poverty will prevent people from thinking properly, poor people can hardly make the right political choices. They collect small monies to vote and collect petty items like clippers and okadas to support their oppressors. Stomach infrastructure (the politicians’ gimmick of gaining unalloyed support of the oppressed masses just by distributing cheap food items to them) works effectively in a society where poverty rates are high. So you see? One way to prevent the people from resisting oppression is to keep them poor. Avoid any policy that will empower then economically and you can oppress them unchecked forever!
Yeah. Let’s summarize.
Do-it-yourself Manual For Politicians Who Want To Oppress The Masses Unchecked
- Give them cheap distractions. Ethnic manipulation will successfully make them shift their focus away from your evil activities.
- Give them a God that cooperates with your evil plans. Do everything to reinforce their belief in him. He’ll be useful as a distraction and a stress dissipator.
- Maintain the vicious cycle of poverty and political stupidity. Force them to remain scavengers who can’t reason beyond basic survival.
I hope that sooner or later, the instructions in this manual will lose their potency. It starts from everybody. Are you ready to break free?