As different cities around the world join the Occupy Wall Street Movement, to protest widening social and economic gap between corporations, financial firms in particular and the people, some Nigerians are calling for a similar pro-people movement to check political greed in Africa’s biggest democracy.
#OccupyAbuja has resonates with Nigerians on the social media site twitter. Commentators have drawn parallel between issues that motivate the Occupy Wall Street Movement and the plight of majority Nigerians in the hands incompetent, greedy politicians.
One commentator posted on twitter, “We’ve prayed, we’ve voted, now we will act and demand good governance when we #OccupyAbuja.” It is not an understatement that the majority of Nigerians are unsure of what the future holds for them as they live their daily life on the edge of social and economic disparity. This majority belongs to the 99 percent that #OccupyWallStreet groups are rallying on behalf.
It is not yet clear how many Nigerians are receptive to the idea of occupying the nation’s capital. Critics of this type of copy cat action will like to know, what’s in it for us? How will #OccupyAbuja improves governance in Nigeria? Poverty, corruption, political disenfranchisement and class oppression are not unique to Nigeria; even some modeled nations’ citizens are victims of the system. What is different is that when it matters, citizens stand up to send a clear message that they, not the politicians, are the boss.
It is barely five months that the Goodluck Jonathan regime took charged of many country’s long-standing woes, but the public confidence in the government’s ability to deliver his electoral promises has wavered significantly, due to series of missteps since the regime’s inauguration on May 29. What the president has so far shown Nigerians, in his handling of ongoing national issues, is that he is truly an apprentice leader.
Apart from the executive uninspiring progress at tackling economic and political and social challenges, the Nigerian legislature is believed to be exceptionally corrupt. The high rate of unemployment among the country’s eligible workers, has not stopped lawmakers to take home million of dollars annually, at the expense of ‘99 percent’ of the people.
Nigeria’s lawmakers earnings (an average of $1million per lawmaker) are double that of their counterpart in developed nations, such as United States of America, and three times more, when compare with other developing countries, such as India.
Advocate for #OccupyAbuja believed that a nationwide day of action is necessary to engage Nigerians and get them to take responsibilities in moving the country forward. On the social media where momentum is picking up, another commentator tries to remind all stakeholder, that: “This is not a ploy to overthrow the government. Just a demand for good governance and fulfillment of promises made.”
Political intetrest marred previous notable civil movement, such as the Save Nigeria Group, spearheaded by a popular evangelical pastor, who later emerged as a running mate to a retired military General in the April presidential election.
Occupy Wall Street protest was called for by a Canadian not-for-profit magazine, Adbusters, in the wake of the Arab uprising. The movement, which is now rooted in Manhattan, New York, is seen as a new order to shape an open market system that is people centred.
Not everyone is making sense of #OccupyAbuja talk, and there is every reason for some people to be concerned. The present state of the nation is fragile, even if top Abuja officials think otherwise; the fear of losing lives to incessant bombing is legitimate, and causing insatiability to an economy that still struggles to find its footing may not be wise. After all the country, whether 99 percent of the masses or 1 percent of the elite, are all in it together.
The twist, however, is that to build a new house, sometime, may require to first burn it down. This is a highroad that Nigerians are not ready take and that no one can enforce. Successful social change is a natural occurrence, when it is ready it will take its course. The role of the people is to facilitate its emergence.
Yemi Ifegbuyi is a senior editorialist and director of operations for SBG media, publisher of nigeriansbaroadlive.com. He is also a strategic communications consultant on politics and business development, with special interest in North-America, Asia and sub-Sahara Africa. Follow him on Twitter: @tweetyemi