Home FEATURES REVOLUTION NOW: WHEN IS IT OKAY TO ARREST ONE WHO CALLS FOR REVOLUTION?

REVOLUTION NOW: WHEN IS IT OKAY TO ARREST ONE WHO CALLS FOR REVOLUTION?

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Cakes Studio Abuja

First, let us establish the ground rules.

One, Intention. What does ‘revolution’ mean? If my father says to me, ‘I swear, if you get anything less than a C in that exam, I will kill you’, his intention is motivation, not murder. And how do I know this? Because if I ask him (for clarification), ‘Daddy, you mean, if I fail this exam you will actually kill me?’ He will (hopefully) snap, ‘Of course not!’

Two, Capacity. Assuming, in answer to my question, my father says, ‘I will not only kill you, I will boil you in acid and throw what is left into the evil forest’, is that enough? No. Because, well, you know how fathers talk sometimes. So, what can I do? I can look around his bedroom to see if he is stockpiling acid. Because a sure indicator of Intention is acquiring (or attempting to acquire) the Capacity to carry it out. So, somebody who keeps threatening to hang himself but never lifts a finger to fetch the rope cannot be taken too seriously.

Three, Impact. Has any reasonable listener on hearing this call for ‘revolution’ gone out and bought an AK-47? I mean, you only have to sit in on a rally, or follow social media threads, to know what a leader expects of his or her followers. If someone is calling for ‘revolution’ and listeners are discussing how to organize protest marches it is not the same as someone calling for ‘revolution’ and listeners are discussing how to build dirty bombs. Yes?

So, ground rules established, let me try and apply them.

One, if the person calling for revolution means (where have I heard that interpretation before?) ‘change’, and is in no way preparing for, or instigating his or her listeners to, armed struggle, then do not give a dog a bad name so you can hang it. It is neither terrorism nor treason. It is protest. Keep an eye on proceedings, and let them be. And if it bothers you that much, drop in and say, ‘Bros, I don’t think ‘revolution’ is the right word.’

Two, if the person calling for revolution means ‘armed struggle’, BUT is not himself or herself preparing for it, BUT is bent on encouraging and instigating others to it, then think it through. As long as it is still ‘talk’ – and has not yet succeeded in instigating anyone to violence – tread tactfully. So –
(a) counter the narrative, for at this point it is still a battle for hearts and minds,
(b) seize the moral high ground by proactively addressing the social ill fuelling the provocative rhetoric,
(c) monitor closely, but do not clamp down, because by so doing you strengthen the hand of your rival, and
(d) stand ready to escalate your response the second you find evidence that ‘talk’ has crossed the border from INCITEFUL to INCITING.

Three, if the person calling for revolution means ‘armed struggle’, AND has himself or herself started preparing and planning for violence, then – please – what are you still waiting for?

Yes. It is in this sense that I think Sowore falls in the first category and is harmless. No doubt, we can argue about the best ways to express frustration and grievance in modern Nigeria. But this will not change the reality that there were 10 million children out of school in 2015, and now there are 13 million. You see? The real threat to the State is its own performance relative to the expectations and needs of its own people. To safeguard the future, this is the trend it needs to arrest immediately.

Improved Governance = Reduced Tensions

As written by Dike Chukwumerije

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