“If your government keep making big mistakes and in return you keep supporting your government, then you are the biggest mistake for your country! Do not confuse government with country. Loyalty to government is not patriotism, patriotism is loyalty to country.” – Turkish Playwright Mehmet Murat Idam
The word occupier means so many things to a lot of people. In real estate it means something different from what it’s in politics, military and international relations. What is common in all is that it has to do with taking possession. Whether of a country or property you can only take possession of what is available. You are either taking possession by force or backed by law.
Truth is that you cannot occupy anywhere or thing if you are not equipped either legally or otherwise to do so. The word occupier as commonly used in Nigeria today has to do with taking possession of a country or government by force as a member of an agitating group. The occupier movement was first noticed at international level on 17 September 2011 in the famous Occupy Wall Street in New York, United States. It was to spread in over 951 cities in 82 countries and in over 600 communities in the U.S.
It was caused by economic and social inequality, and undue corporate influence. Occupier became a household name in Nigeria when some political leaders seeking to dethrone the government in power in Nigeria in 2012 galvanized the civil society bodies to occupy Nigeria. They found anchor in the fuel increase at the time and the huge corruption going over the fuel subsidy. Then President Goodluck Jonathan had removed the fuel subsidy in a move aimed at ending corruption in the sector and it caused the price of petrol to jump from N65 to N120 per a litre.
In the uprising that ensued as a result it was brought down to N97 per a litre. Since governance nose-dived for the worse in the country lately under President Muhammad Buhari’s watch, Nigerians have been wishing for a re-enactment of the 2012 occupier movement.
The call became more apropos following the total removal of subsidy by the Federal Government resulting in the astronomical rise of petrol product to N162 to a litre. Nigerians have even been taking a dig on some Nigerians who directly or indirectly contributed to the coming of this regime and who were very conspicuous in the Occupier Movement of the time.
There have been all kinds of name calling on some people whose vocal voices helped to dethrone the government of Goodluck Jonathan and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the enthroning of Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC). What the populace are demanding of them is to come and repeat the same now that the situation has gone from bad it was under Jonathan to worse under Buhari. In occupying Nigeria then they claimed they were saving the soul of the country, but the soul more than ever before in our history needs saving now and they are nowhere to be found.
From the iconic Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, to loquacious Pastor Tunde Bakare, voluble Femi Falana, longwinded Oby Ezekwesili, garrulous Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka, shrill Prof. Chukwuma Soludo etc., voices that are conspicuously missing now and who were very instrumental in ferrying Buhari to power.
The politicians that super headed it then are understandably mum now having gotten what they really were looking for. I am aware that many characters who helped bring this regime to Olusegun Obasanjo, Bukola Saraki, Rabiu Kwakwaso, and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi have publicly expressed their distraught, but Nigerians are demanding that they put in the same energy they put then in ensuring the delivery of good governance and its consequences of ameliorating the sufferings of the populace.
Various interpretations have been lined up as to the reasons why they are unable to act this time even amidst the unbearable prevailing hardship. Some say that they are chopping and that its bad manner to be seen talking or shouting when you are chewing something in your mouth.
If this assertion holds, it then presupposes that the real reason for the shouting ab initio was to build individual stomach infrastructure and not necessarily to save the country. This is really where the problems are, people wear the garb of selfless service for the people only to hide the real agenda until they get in. Politicians are already guaranteed the right to play on the intelligence of the people by promising and not keeping to their promises. They are given to promising to build bridges where there is no river, but when civil society activists and labour leaders also indulge in such act, it raises great concern for the society in question and that is where we are at the moment in our country.
It must be noted however that not all of them are chopping as it were, but such people are weighed down by their conscience load having seen the consequences of their poor judgement. But there are conspicuous variables why the 2012 occupier activists are currently dumb. Nigerians are not likely to see the same verve from Nigerians even though the provocation is weightier.
Truth is that there is no leader or leaders to occupy the position of Muhammadu Buhari, the arrowhead in 2012 or Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the alleged financier, all desperately were in need of political power. Nobody is in such desperate class today to grab the Presidency of this country? Perhaps the nearest to be compared to the operatives of 2012 in being hungry and passionate about political office is the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who unfortunately is now more a Dubai national than a Nigerian.
Nigeria with its ethnic and religious exploitation record has not yet gotten to a point where people fight for you while you are sleep in the belief that such selfless person is worth dying for. A serious leader must lead the way. Another of the variables is the clear lack of motivation.
Nigerians don’t fight for nothing. What is in it for us they will want to know. If something is not ethnic or religious in Nigeria and you want people you must pay for it. Another possible reason for the lacklustre response from both opposition politicians and activists is lack of resources to push a docile populace that must get mobilized even to save themselves. The main opposition party, the PDP, whom everyone looks forward to lead the way is handicapped and the witch-hunting policy of the regime successfully scares away even those with legitimate funds to bring.
The system would always find a way of tagging you a rogue once you spend and you are not in the ruling party. It appears too early for anybody to start taking all the financial and political risks now. Perhaps the biggest of all the variables why the occupiers are visibly inactive is the nature and disposition of the government in power. In 2012 a humane government headed by a civilian democrat Jonathan was on the throne respecting human rights and rule of law.
Today, the man on the throne Gen. Buhari is a converted democrat so he says, a military man; a convert is always not same as a born tutored person. Human rights and rule of law is a distance away from this regime. To therefore try occupying Nigeria under this dispensation you have to have the lever and be ready to face whatever comes. Since most of the occupier operatives are not driven by patriotic instinct, but by what to gain personally, they may not be ready and willing to take the bull by the horn.
However, there is a consolation on the way, President Buhari and his anti-people policies are gradually pushing the people to that point where occupiers will emerge that are to be driven by the demands for their survival. When that time arrives and is already by the corner, religion and tribe will vanish.
When that time comes, the youth from Sokoto, Calabar, Akure, Yenagoa, Damaturu, Makurdi all over will be guided by one common denominator; a feature shared by all of them will be survival. It’s only then will the soul of Nigeria be saved. Until that time comes, let’s bear the brunt of our cowardice and docility.