Lessons from suspended fuel strike
By Jacob Olu-Alabi
Wednesday February 28, 2012

Ultra-right philosophers such as John Locke, Machiavelli, Durant, Desecrate etc. are all agreed that the act of fulfilling private ambitions or reaching personal goals is often achieved through carefully-targeted elimination formulars, selective exclusion, monopoly, cartel, cultic mafia or cabal activities. In any act of competition or deliberate rat race, the end justifies the means.

Pre-colonial Africa was dotted by communities and empires in similar or comparable primitive communalism, where royalty, medicine men, hunters and other people with bravado facilities, appropriate community productive efforts that invariably dovetailed into a large, over-tasked, under remunerated poor, whose destitute positions are embroidered in folklore music and ballads that perpetuate or sustain the comfortable position of kings, princes and other potentates, who lives on labour provided by others.

European influence in Nigeria, which started more than two decades prior to America’s discovery by Christopher Columbus, was initially anchored on forced slavery and slave trade but, as time went on, was promoted to lopsided or mutually acceptable barter in hot drinks, ivory, timber, gun powder, matches and other products. And, although Britain that was allocated Nigeria at the Berlin Conference of 1885, did not register any governmental apparatus until 1900, she did little to ameliorate the conditions of the larger poor but further empowered any King who collected high taxes, reversed slavery, stopped brazen human sacrifice, opened the trade routes or mobilized his subjects for road works and for cultivation of tropical products for Britain’s industrial establishments.

In Nigeria, tax riots which broke out in Aba, Port-Harcourt, Kano, Iseyin, Abeokuta and others were often quelled down by fire power from the guns of the West African Frontier force, a colonial military outpost, which killed without mercy.
In the immediate post colonial era, natural disaster, education, enlistment in the Army, Customs, Police or the Civil Service, re-located positions or incomes and an emergent nouveau rich, who treated with disdain, their erstwhile unenhanced companions, the struggling poor.

Today, opportunity to cross the poverty line has been arrested by some other occurrences as the educated poor can no more readily secure commensurate employment that serves to relieve poverty. On the last count, by UNDP Reports, over seventy percent Nigerians still live as cavemen, some percentage above that figure live on less than two dollars a day. One report said Nigerians generally were well off at independence than they are at present.

In summary, self-governance, although creating a corps of nouveau rich, has never, ever reduced the percentage of poor Nigerians. The deceit or irreverence of the nouveau rich for the masses recently hit the air with the introduction of an astronomical fuel price hike by government barely a week after a devastating bombing of Saint Theresa’s Catholic Church, Minna, and, as new year gift. Nigerians of all classes and religions, north, south, east and west, and in the Diaspora, besieged the streets, protesting, even after the Nigerian Labour Congress had asked its members to suspend the strike. Half of January, open-air disclosure of unimaginable governmental disservice to the nation, even if in arrears, happened everywhere.

Although the strikes have either been suspended or retracted, obviating the need for meeting quorum or notice for another one to begin, a number of outcomes have already been recorded: (a) that Nigerians, having been disappointed by various past governments, will for long distrust their leaders. A credibility deficit has already been established and if Nigerians participate in any future elections, the intention could be to fill existing vacancies only; (b)that the remain ants of the progressives, after the demise of Majors Kaduna Nzeogwu, Wale Ademoyega, Victor Banjo, Mallam Aminu Kano, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Kanmi Isola Osobu, Prefessor Ononune Onoge, Tunji Otegbeye, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Tai Solarin (of Campos Square Fame), Beko Ranson Kuti, Comrade Ola Oni, Gani Fawehinmi, Bola Ige, Beko Ransome Kuti, Segun Ikeozar, etc. have since 1999 abandoned the masses, the veritable reservoir of revolutionary activities, but can continue to do so only at the detriment of the nation. Rallies, street protests and lock-outs by unharmed people are still part of the universally recognized methods of bringing conflict issues to the level of discussion, in a world where national and international relations have been predicated in the market place of ideas, where the good idea invariable wipes out the bad ones.
Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable.

Olu-Alabi writes from Osogbo.

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