VOLA: The Role of Activism in Birthing Nigeria’s True Independence- Lanre Olagunju

That Nigeria doesn’t have a national dream that encompasses ideologies and national ethos for economic prosperity and overall well being of its people doesn’t mean that Nigerians don’t yearn or deserve a better living condition, or that the average Nigerian who is aware of the abundance of resources in the land doesn’t know where the country should be if she had sane leaders. Year in year out, we celebrate the nation’s independence amidst anger, deep depression and lamentations that hasn’t translated to positive change of any sort.


The indication that slavery still exist in Nigeria is all over the faces of the 112 million Nigerians being tormented by soul crushing poverty, feeding and living on less than N300/day. The slavery is evident in the cries that accompany the avoidable deaths of the 144 pregnant women we lose every single day. Or how else do you explain that the Nigerian federal government has decided to turn a deaf ear to ASUU’s demand that government stay true to its own promises? The kind of slavery I’m talking about becomes more vivid when you consider that the kids of the political class either attend schools abroad or the expensive private schools in the country where their irresponsible acts towards developing education can’t reach their wards.


From all indications, things are actually getting worse and it’s amazing how the political class doesn’t seem to be bothered or troubled by the maddening statistics of lack, poverty, hunger and avoidable deaths. They have succeeded in ensuring that the freedom from slavery Nigeria got in 1960 has been replaced with a well orchestrated internal slavery; where the lot of the nation powers the luxurious lifestyle of the corrupt few.


If there is anything that brings me an iota of hope about Nigeria, it’s the reality that Nigerian youth seems to be tired of the “siddon dey look” syndrome that kept the older generation enclosed within the shackles of modern slavery. The involvement is getting higher, better and well informed. Gone are the days when youths see news about politics and the economy as boring. There is a higher level of awareness today and if the youth continue to get exposed to data that reveals the madness within the ruling class, that‘d be enough to challenge them with many questions that’d be responsible to birth the anger needed to kick off change. As a proponent of evidence based activism, I was pleased to see Nigerian youths collectively rattle senators with concise figures and dates last Thursday in the scorching sun of Abuja.  They had to lie at some point, senator Abaribe out of anger said “I can show you by payslip if you ask for it” while trying to defend himself inanely. The said senator’s conscience probably only allowed him tender his 2010 payslip that didn’t show the many absurd allowances. At that point, I saw the need for a continuous aggressive outburst of factivism, a process where well informed citizens exposed to data and figure will keep asking aggressive questions. Asking the political class  to justify their actions and in actions including some of the many absurd things they do in the so called process of representing their constituencies.


The youth at the #OurNASS protest asked senator Abaribe to explain why Nigerians should waste so much money on Senators who get all sort of unmentionable allowances despite that too many of them have been good for nothing based on the job they should be going. Nigerians are aware that some 35 out of 109 Senators that were sworn in 2011 have no single bill passed to justify their existence in the House of Assembly, let alone the criminal salary and allowances they get.


Questions will always dig into the order of events to ensure that activism brings about change. It only demands that we awaken our individual sense of responsibility to tackle the things we don’t want to see in our nation in an informed manner. Through similar means and activeness, Bagega reclaimed sanity when Nigerians harnessed the power of social media as a means for change. Recently, Dr Ngozi Okonja Iweala, according to a press statement from her office said “This administration hired new auditors and put in place different checks and balances. As a result, last year, we brought subsidy payment down to about N950 billion, and we expect that this year, we will pay about N971 billion” Meaning that some N1.2 trillion has been saved from the whooping N2.2 trillion Naira that was spent on the same subsidy in 2011. You can imagine the disparity and what that can do to the economy.


Lanre Olagunju is an hydrologist turned freelance journalist.  An alumnus of the American College of Journalism, Lanre advocates on several international platforms for the prosperity and absolute well-being of the African continent. He is @Lanre_Olagunju on Twitter.

Lanre says factivism will birth Nigeria’s true independence