Nigeria: Was it a 14-day dream?

Published on Pambazuka News, by Sokari Ekine, January 26, 2012.

It may appear like business as usual but people do not experience such an outpouring of solidarity and power and remain unchanged. The apathy barrier has been broken and there has been a shift in consciousness.

Is the Nigerian ‘revolution’ over? Was it just a brief moment in our history when everyone came together believing that this time things would be different? Or has there been a permanent shift in consciousness? Emmanuel Iduma likens Nigeria’s 14-day revolt to a dream from which we awoke and returned to normalcy … //

… So it was with horror and disappointment that I read the NDOND statement which could end up undermining years of struggle in the Niger Delta. Although it appears to be a minority viewpoint it is the voice which is being heard above all else. For example, the article supposedly published by the ex-militant group, MEND [there is no way to verify who is behind the site] ‘Can This Government Do the Job’ has not been reported.

‘Nigeria is literally falling to pieces under the watch and stewardship of President Jonathan. And these are not the words of a detractor or an enemy…it would appear that the Nigerian government under President Jonathan has completely lost control of the situation in the country and can no longer guarantee the security of life and property of innocent and law-abiding Nigerians. For murderers to plan and successfully drop 20 bombs, including grenades, in Nigeria’s second largest city, leading to the death of more than 200 people, and the government and its machinery did not pick up any hint of its coming in any way at all to save this country the horror, scandal and embarrassment that befell it last Friday is, to say the least, quite scary. Even during the 1967-1970 Nigerian civil war, I cannot remember anywhere 20 bombs and grenades dropped on a single city in one day. Boko Haram continues to get stronger, more sophisticated and more ambitious by the day while the federal government continues to look weaker, smaller and more pusillanimous.’

Back to the mass action, much has been tweeted about the absence of women in the Nigerian protests which runs contrary to the history of women’s resistance in the country. But on Monday this changed as hundreds of Kaduna women came together in an action against the eviction by the Nigerian Air Force from their ancestral home.

‘The women were carrying placards with inscriptions in Hausa such as, ‘ Bamu da gida sai Titi’ (meaning, our only shelter left is the highway). The women were also protesting the physical assault on one of them by soldiers who were drafted to control the women. An incident that nearly broke into a security operation between the youths, the husbands of the women who were standing by and the security men drafted to the area. The incident, which increased anxiety in the town, led to the complete blockage of exit and entrance of traffic to Kaduna town for over three hours. It, however, took the combined efforts of the police, the military, government officials and community leaders to calm the nerves of the protesting women who had insisted on remaining on the highway as the only shelter left for them to occupy. Narrating their grievances, the leader of the women, Mrs. Monica Musa who spoke to newsmen, said several years back the Air Force had evicted them from Ungwan Waziri, a village were the graves of their great grandparents lay, without any compensation. ‘We had to move to this present location in 1984. They followed us again in 2008, and destroyed our houses and farmlands.’’

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the 25 January uprisings in Egypt. The day before, the Egyptian Twittersphere reported that jailed blogger Maikel Nabil had finally been released.

‘Yet 10 months of Maikal’s life have been wasted. He should never have been arrested in the first place. His criminal record must now be expunged and he must be compensated for his ordeal,’ she continued. ‘Throughout his trial the Egyptian authorities have behaved with a total lack of respect for his rights. At times they seemed to toy with his life, allowing his health to deteriorate so badly that many feared for his life.’ Jailed blogger Nabil, considered by most to be Egypt’s first prisoner of conscience after being jailed by the military junta early last year, was freed on Tuesday, his brother Mark wrote on Twitter.’

All roads lead to Tahrir in ‘Happy Revolutionary Day’, Egyptian Chronicles writes of the hope and courage which has sustained one year of continuous protest.

‘The big achievement of this revolution is that it brought hope back to the Egyptians and reminded them that they have got a voice the whole world will listen to. May Allah bless the souls of the martyrs as well the lives of the injured. May Allah bless the Egyptian people even those who think that the revolution was a bad thing.’

This was a revolution in which we all participated even if it was just through watching TV reports or following blogs and Twitter – we were all inspired and deep down wished for it to succeed. In this it brought hope to millions of people around the world. As we celebrate a year of African Awakenings inspired by the courageous act of one young man, Mohammed Bouazizi, I can’t help but feel something important is missing. After one year we still have not managed to create a sense of cross border solidarity. It is as if we are all so absorbed in our own uprisings that we are not taking the opportunity to share and support our actions with others. On one level I understand this – revolutions are hard work. Everyone must be physically and mentally exhausted and really even in Egypt and Tunisia the work has only just begun. But I hope at some point during the next 12 months activists are able to reach beyond their borders if only to touch and say hello.
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Link: Corruption.

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