Leaderless protests breed leaderless outcomes ~ By Ahmed Musa Husaini
Leaderless protests breed leaderless outcomes anywhere in the world. Granted that there is the risk of compromise when protests have a central leadership, but the gains far outweigh the risks. All the greatest historical causes from protests to revolutions have a strong and decisive leadership behind them.
But they deceive you (or rather deceive yourself) that leaderless protests are the norm in our new 21st century reality. That’s what the woke media feed you with because they want you to become noisemakers instead of changemakers, chanting revolutionary slogans whose impacts could not echo beyond the streets to innermost recesses of legislative and executive chambers.
You have legitimate demands about ending police abuse and government accepted your demands and conceded the moral and political highground to you, allowing you to negotiate from a position of strength and legitimacy. The next thing is for you to sit down and negotiate genuine reforms within acceptable timelines and supervised by credible individuals and organizations. Many right thinking Nigerians asked you to put foward a leadership (even a collegiate one) to discuss with government. How did you respond? You insulted them and derided them as the generation that’s behind the mess today.
But as with anything, nature abhors vacuum. As you keep basking in the euphoria of your street victories, your rank swells with all manner of supporters many of whom harbored a sinister agenda. Your lack of leadership means the struggle could not stay on a single message, at a single place and on a single position. Gradually, the chants of #BuhariResign and #revolution are becoming louder than those of #Endpolicebrutality.
If this was about Buhari then you can go ahead and chase him out for all I care. But this is beyond Buhari, it is about establishing a valid precedent. If some disgruntled Nigerians can run to the streets and remove an elected president, that means the next day another protest will erupt to remove the new one, and the next one, and the next, creatinga vicious cycle of chaos and instability. That’s why we have elections and the last time some misguided adventurists attempted to remove an elected government using a sectional platform, the country ran into a brutal civil war whose consequences continue to echo to this day.
Even when Nigerians complain about your bad tactics of blocking highways and disrupting people’s movements, you told us that that is the price to pay for fixing Nigeria? But pray who gives you the mandate to fix Nigeria, to decide for the average Nigerian who decide to stay away? When was that election held. That is exactly how revolutionaries become dictators by first suspending the constitution under the pretext of reform only to become worse than the regime they toppled.
The fact is, the consequences of your leaderlessness is exactly what the government is waiting for the moment you rejected its peace overtures. They began by building a case against the protests, first by accepting all demands so they can boast before the world that we have accepted all their demands and they are still protesting and refusing to negotiate. Secondly by allowing you to disrupt public movement so public opinion will shift against you, and lastly by watching the breakdown of law and order so they can have the excuse to step in and declare martial law.
Now after the unfortunate tragedies in Edo, Abuja and Lagos, instead of learning the right lessons, the new fad is to blame the north for refusing to join the protest en masse, for being in love with bad governance, say a people who supported some of the worst presidents and currently governed by some of the worst state governors in history. If it’s a bad governance contest, the worst would be a goalless draw between the North and South.
The biggest disservice to the #Endsars protest is your making it sectional by chastising the North for not joining, even as there are many northerners joining those protests. The thugs that disrupt protests in Lagos are what they are, thugs, simple. But the ones that disrupt protests in Abuja are bad-governance-loving Hausa Fulani agendists.
But even if that was true for the purpose of this debate, the north is not under any obligation to subscribe to anybody’s agenda no matter how legitimate . The north is not a monolith that goosestep to the command of any leader or demagogue. The north is a pastiche of various cultures, of various political and sectarian persuasions, representing the individual diversities, experiences and aspirations of all its over 100 million people.
There’s still a window of opportunity to return the protests to their legitimate goals of ending police brutality and reforming the entire Nigerian law enforcement institution, to denounce and isolate the extremist elements and their extremist agenda. That’s only if we are able to separate hype from reality and understand that just like diplomacy is the continuation of war by other means, so is negotiation to protests.