Sunday, 5 February 2017

Tuface's Cowardice and Nigeria's Waning Democracy

When someone says you are poor, it does not necessarily mean you have a tag of indigence dangling from your neck; lacking food, water or roof over your head and other 'very' basic necessities of life. Poverty too, is the lack of power and choice, especially in a democracy.

Last Saturday, Nigerians woke to the dispiriting news of Tuface yielding to pressure; and consequently cancelling the proposed (eagerly awaited by many Nigerians) "one voice protest" that was to hold across major cities in the country. The music maestro was on the verge of making incredible statement, until he burst the bubble that Saturday morning.

The social media has since witnessed a barrage of disappointing threads. "Tuface, but why?" Others went ahead to say "Tuface or no Tuface, we shall march". But such gibberishes are of little important now. Our concern is on the implications and consequences of Tuface's depressing act or show of susceptibility. Aligning with Tuface's idea, Nigerians, tired and apparently impatient with president Buhari's inept and clueless government, saw an opening; a platform to express their aversion towards the imploding regime. But this was not to happen.

There is a frightening reality that Nigeria's so-called democracy is on a fast slide to doom; and that is a huge quandary. If you do not know why, then you are part of the problem.

The most trending question has been "why" Mr. Tuface wilted, especially after arousing a smouldering level of enthusiasm in the public. Tuface's video announcement claimed his aim of organising the protest is "not worth the blood of any Nigerian," something intended as justification for the cancellation. "It is motivated by the need to negotiate a better deal for the ordinary Nigerians." But Tuface ended up disappointing Nigerians than his purported intention to negotiate a better deal for them.

He claimed that the one voice protest that was to hold on Monday, February 6 was "under serious threat of hijack by interests not aligned with our ideals". Other reports by the police claim it has "credible intelligence" that a counter protest was being planned under the umbrella name #IStandWithBuhari.

So Tuface chickened out! Whatever he says, majority of Nigerians, who waited for the protest to happen have different ideas about him: Tuface has sold himself out to a few political cronies, this people who brought us to this near irredeemable stand.

There are only three ways to explain Tuface's attitude: it is either that the famous musician did not have clear goals intended to achieve with the protest; did not understand what democracy truly is; or he is such a fraidy-cat.  

George Sanda, the French author describes the democratic fury that burns in her as "one of the most passionate forms of love…." She says, and Tuface, or any other person who still believe that democracy still exist in Nigeria may want to take a cue from her:

"Humanity is outraged in me and with me. We must not dissimulate, nor try to forget this indignation, which is one of the most passionate forms of love. We must make great efforts on behalf of brotherhood [and sisterhood,] to repair the ravages of hate. We must put an end to the scourge, wipe out infamy with scorn and inaugurate by faith, the resurrection of the country."

And it is this "faith", the will, and zeal that Mr. Tuface lack. What happened to Tuface was a blatant suppression and oppression. And with little patriotic nerve, he bottled out. The music star could actually proceed to the court to challenge his right, and of course that of his supporters, of expression. Frank Collin, the American political activist did it with the village of Stockvie, when a court upheld a compelling argument favouring limited speech and right to protest. He won. That is how democracy is built and sustained. Not by weakening at the face of little opposition.

Tuface and his co-organisers thought little, or did not envisage any meaningful impact coming from the proposed protest; or they have not got the wit or gut to face a seemingly suppressive government. True democracy is not practiced by passive citizens. No, democratic citizens are forceful and assertive. Indeed, “To be a revolutionary is the only way to sincerely practice morality.”

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