Nigeria's Elusive Reform between Lamenting Masses and Ineffective Activists

Nigerians understandably lament their largely leadership-inflicted predicaments. Every Nigerian has endless tales to tale in this regard including the rich. Lamentation has virtually substituted chatting among Nigerians. Majalisa i.e joints, Mai Shayi or Suya spots, markets and even commuter buses etc are virtual platforms for Nigerians to share their lamentations over various problems ranging -for instance- from chronic poverty to the dismal performance of the Super Eagles.

This phenomenon confirms masses’ collective interests and indeed their keenness for a real socio-political reform that would turn things around. Incidentally, this level of mass enthusiasm is strong enough to trigger any desired leadership reform, ironically however this is not the case in Nigeria despite the availability of activists who “push” for social change and better leadership.

The masses and the activists trade blames over who is responsible of frustrating the reform efforts. Unsurprisingly the activists’ voices sound much louder being relatively better educated and better chanced to utilize different means of mass communication, hence their arguments appear more accepted. They have been able to create a stereotype about the masses that they are the ones who actually undermine their push for reforms. They accuse them of unnecessary submissiveness to the corrupt elite, glorifying them and even shielding them. While on the other hand, the masses hardly have any confidence in the activists, because they have witnessed uncountable incidents when many activists have been lured into the bandwagon of the same corruption and mediocrity they had been pretending to fight. Therefore the vast majority of the masses assume that most of the activists are some frustrated educated who resorted to false activisms only to get noticed and eventually get access to the “big cake”. This assumption has contributed in the masses’ perceptible and largely understandable sense of hopelessness in Nigeria’s prospect of real reform, which informed their obvious resignation to “prayers” for a Divine intervention.

In reality in as much as I believe that there are of course many fake activists, I do believe that the apparently few genuine activists can still make a difference if they creatively develop the right method that can possibly work out in Nigeria’s peculiar case. Incidentally such a few activists are largely ineffective because they act rather naively; they are mostly either (1) unnecessarily fire-brand in approach, (2) excessively idealistic, who seek to turn the unrepentant corrupt officials into saints overnight, (3) mere gossip-mongers who focus on exposing moral and administrative scandals of the leaders and (4) confused activists who waste their energy in repeating the obvious and trying to draw the leaders’ attentions to what they already know.
The reality is that, Nigeria’s problems are too obvious to be ignored by the leaders in the first place, after all they also share the predicament created by their own failure. So there is no need to unnecessarily waste time, energy and resources in trying to bring their attentions to the challenges bedeviling the country. Likewise, they are too conscious (though hard-hearted) that no amount of “preaching” can possibly make them change, after all almost of them fit perfectly into the modern concept of “religious”, as they unnecessarily tend to showcase their “passionate” affiliations to their respective religions. Moreover, they seem to be too morally bankrupt to feel ashamed of their frequently exposed financial, administrative and even moral scandals; one percent of which is grievous enough to warrant the resignation of the affected persons or even the whole government in a civilized country. As a matter of fact in Nigerian context, scandals no matter how earth-shaking can’t embarrass an average official enough to necessitate his disappearance from public life. After all we have witnessed how a whole President was involved in an incest affair with his daughter-in law, seen published graphic pictures of naked or semi naked high-ranking officials in the shrine, as well as constant looting sprees of the public money in the open etc, yet they all passed as though nothing had happened.

Therefore for Nigerian activists to be effective and be able to inspire the public to affect the necessary reform, they must draw up a viable home-based strategy with a clear program and mechanism to guide their activities. After all, almost all of them are intellectuals who are fond of showing off their academic degrees at any given chance. So it is a challenge upon them to prove their intellectual abilities on one hand and organizational skills on the other. Nigerian masses are relatively easily inspirable thus should not be unfairly blamed for the ineffectiveness of political activisms in Nigeria.
Mohammad Qaddam writes from UAE. For more of his articles visit

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