By Idoko Ainoko

Civil rights activists,the world over, are  known for their fight against social injustice and their bid to make lasting impact on the lives of the oppressed and underprivileged.

They champion causes for the betterment of the citizenry as well as reinforce mechanisms for effective governance in the overall interests of the people and for the development of nations.

In the UK, US and other countries, rights activism was fired by the increaing cases of gross injustice and discrimination against certain persons and when it started,  it was thorough and very serious as it focussed social justice and the fundamental human right. 

Early activists in the US include names such as  Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois , Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson and many others.

These people put their lives on stake to advocate for equality and social justice and sometimes went through terrible experiences to achieve their aims for a better and egalitarian society. 

Early activism in Africa took the pattern of the struggle in black America and was mainly for the inclusion of natives in goverment and widening the political space for the participation of the majority. 

In Nigeria, the likes of Herbert Macauley, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Aminu Kano, Funmi Ransom Kuti and others were at the forefront of the struggle.

Down the line,  they passed the baton to people like JS Tarka, Tai Solarin, Wole Soyinka, Gambo Sawaba and others.

The nature of activism however changed with prolonged military rule when  people began to demand for popular participation in politics. That was when the likes of Beko Ransom Kuti, Ayo Obe, Olisa Agbakogba, Femi Borishade and the likes took to the street to demand for justice for the oppressed.

But over the years, the term activism has been bastardised and reduced to mere political rivalry or complaint over loss during elections or worse still, a process of seeking attention  for appointment.

This process became rampant  during the military era when  settlement of political opponents became the order of the day.

Since then, every Tom, Dick and Harry mounted the rostrum with claims of activism to get attention and once they are settled with juicy political offices, they abandon the struggle and continue with the pursuit of personal comfort.

Unfortunately, the phenomena transcended the military era became the culture in political and civil society circles until President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in May 2015 and decided to put a stop to such mercantilism.

Those who wanted appointment he insisted had to show merit; anybody that takes the course of blackmail just to seek attention is either ignored or dealt with according to the laws.

On a good day, everybody agrees that the President Buhari led APC government is doing very well.

Within the four years it has been in goverment, the administration has recorded many feats that has moved Nigeria forward.

The administration has made mark in the key areas it had set out to achieve which are, fight against corruption, improving the economy and fight against insurgency. 

Corruption in the public sector has been reduced to the barest minimum with the introduction of TSA and the IPPIS form of payment.

Under the current administration, prominent persons including members of the ruling party have been brought to book for corrupt practices and so much stolen money has been recovered and utilised for public good.

The federal goverment also has been able improve on the economy through the agricultural sector and empowered many farmers while developing the small and medium scale enterprises.

It has also done well in the aspect on security, as it has been able to defeat Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists that were almost taking over the country. 

The administration has done more than that. It handled the issue of the Coronavirus very well which explains why the virus did not get out of hand.

Recently the government also reduced the pump price of fuel and has been paying the poor and vulnerable in the society.  But it seems like the more the goverment impacts positively on the people, the more a certain group  of  persons that call themselves activists are not happy. 

They have chosen not to see anything good about the current administration and will criticise everything even for the fun of it. 

In other climes, activists criticize only policies and actions of government they perceive as wrong but in Nigeria they make no distinction, as they are bent on casting the goverment in bad light.

These are what the Femi Fani kayodes, the Omoyele Sowores, the Ayesha Yusufs, the Shehu Sanis and the Deji Adeyanjus of this world are doing. 

They lack the capacity and painstaking finesse to thoroughly x-ray government policies and actions to offer suggestions, but are quick to pick holes.

Most of these later day ‘activists’ have missed it. They were not around when the struggle for democracy was fought, hence mangle the process and intent for popular struggles. 

They are not concerned about the oppressed or the less privileged, they are only angry that they and their sponsors have lost power. 

Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina captured their mood rightly when he described them as ‘wailers.’

They are the wailers who must cry to get attention. They are like the proverbial child who screams even when his mother is on her way to the market to get his food.

They wail even when they’re being helped.

Yesufu rode on the back of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ struggle for the release of the Chibok girls and when she failed to get an appointment in government like some of her counterparts took her wailing to a level where nobody takes her serious again.

In the case of Sowore, one does not even have to go far to know what is driving him as has himself revealed that what is driving him is his ambition to be president of Nigeria;  and when he couldn’t achieve that, he now turned it into a revolution calling for regime change.

Deji Adeyanju on the other hand is only trying to find his feet but has gone in the wrong direction. That his activism is of the Mercantile hue was exposed when his sponsors took him to Dubai when  he was challenged by some hoodlums during a protest. 

While Fani kayode who was the spokesman for 2015 presidential campaign, has not stopped crying because his party has lost power. His case is similar to that of Shehu Sani who wanted to be given an automatic ticket to the Senate and when the ruling party insisted on a primary election he ran to another party.  Having been defeated in the general elections, he has now ran back to activism.

But it is high time well meaning Nigerians expose these  people and call them to order.

They should be made to realise that Nigeria belongs to us all and that other citizens are not happy with they way they’re trying to distract the current administration from achieving its policies and programmes for the betterment of the citizenry and development of the nation.

Ainoko is a public affairs analyst and wrote this piece from Kaduna.


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