Activating The Production Revolution AND Nigeria’s Renewal
Prof Pat Utomi

Tribute To Obidients As Patriots, By Pat Utomi

2 months ago
3 mins read

Two years ago the word did not exist and even the most fertile imagination could not conjure the movement it gave form.

But patriots were at their wits end. The economy was hiccuping, insecurity was galloping, social and political tensions were practising hop, step and jump as nepotism and state capture replaced inclusion, reason and the rule of law in public life.

The young who had been called indolent decided it was time to raise their voice and called out their peers to protest police brutality and uniformed authority banditry in how citizens were molested by people paid to protect them, but were met with a force of suppression that Apartheid era Prime Ministers Johanese Vorster and Pieter Botha of South Africa would have been proud of. So they said the cry for the beloved country was not enough. They yelled freedom and said they would organize for the polls.

Not even the eternally optimistic for the liberation of Nigeria from a political class that has watched the country slide into strategic irrelevance in the scheme of things and its people become statistics of the poverty capital of the world, like me, anticipated the rage of the River.

They came as professionals, Doctors at home and abroad, students hoping their already mortgaged future could be reclaimed from the pawn shop; religious leaders exhausted with explaining away injustice and traditional activists. At the source the River knew neither tribe, tongue nor faith, which made me want to swim in it for that was the Nigeria of my dream.

No traditional activist or political organizers could, in good conscience, take credit for the spontaneity or force of the charging storm. It flowed from outrage in ordinarily pliable citizen wannabes who watched a political class of low capacity and poor conscience manipulate and co-opt a complicit middle to degrade their country. Joiners included those sighing in relief that at last the giants awakes. And even those crippled by corruption and the putrid stench of disorder and abandoned leftovers. Those who could not or would not Japa or keep their families in Canada to preserve the future possibilities for their children began to sign up one by one, especially as the promises of INECs Mahmoud Yakubu got louder and seemingly more reassuring that technology would assure a credible count.

At first the extant order, used to weaponizing poverty and deploying vote buying and rigging as the standard operating procedures for elections, dismissed the movement as an internet revolution of ‘four people in a room twitting’. But the raging River came fast and furious taking down Dams on its path.

By the time the Obidient Movement began to take over the streets panic gripped the establishment. It was a Sourthern thing, they proclaimed, until we got to Sokoto and Bauchi, and Biu, and the surging crowd were so impassioned it was a struggle to get out of the Helicopter. Nigerians were begging for a new order. But Machiavelli long forewarned that those who profit from an old order would do everything to prevent a new order and a faking establishment came dancing naked equipped to do damage.

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The most horrific of what they did was push ethnic stereotyping beyond hate speech, polluting culture, and destroying decades old relationships. For one like me who has lived in all parts of Nigeria and built friendships thicker than blood across languages and religions it was my lowest Nigerian moment.

The old play book made well known by Joseph Goebbels and skillfully commented on by Jacques Elllul in the book on propaganda was rolled out – disarm reason and go for emotion. When in doubt the playbook’s Nigerian version instructs, drape it with cash; every one is bribable. As the saying goes what money cannot buy more money can buy.

Fascism which I predicted was coming six years ago, in the book, Why Not, always goes with bullying, as we learn from the Third Reich which Goebbels served so faithfully, played its hand.

Soon thugs were deployed to kill and maim and to prevent those not trusted to go with the bullies from voting and then to mutilate voting outcome reports.

People focused on the final outcomes from abracadabra institutions like INEC and the Judiciary where the same equipment can upload Senatorial results from a polling booth but not the presidential one held at the same time in the same place but I chose to remain charmed with the social force that came from nowhere. The ‘fedupness’ of that moment had triggered a movement for change that captured the imagination, and was a signal that the long awaited Nigerian revolution was not a still birth.

Now that we know that to grab power is not to be able to govern the political education of Nigeria is rising . We owe you the Obidients and your movement a huge debt of gratitude for this. As many of you have said: you were even Obidients before Peter Obi. You have become a phenomenon in Nigerian history. You helped us all exhale.. You make me feel in my bones that ring tone on my phone for many years….Nigeria will rise up again.

 

Pat Utomi, Political Economist and Professor at the Lagos Business Shool has written books on Leadership and Politics in Nigeria.


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