By Dr. Ehiogie West Idahosa
Sowore was fired by the reality confronting most Nigerians in uttering the words that led to his arrest and detention. From the point of cognitive Psychology, it can be argued that the language used by Sowore was largely founded on frustration. Viewed from the aggression- frustration theory, there is no strong language used in communication that is not propelled by frustration.
Even at that, from a sensible community construction of the words used by Sowore and the demands made by the #RevolutionNow group, it is clear that their real intention was not more than a call for mass protest against the all round disequilibrium in the country and nothing more pretentious. The clamor for change would remain a recurring decimal in the annals of mankind.
No wonder the amiable and modern day literary power house, Chimamanda Adichie in March 2011, while commenting on the socio-political/economic atmosphere in Nigeria, said that “much needs to change – the occasional violence, the deep rot of a patronage system, the lukewarm participation of a jaded middle class.” What Adichie talked about then is worse today.
The word revolution has several meanings. The popular one according to Wikipedia is a reference to a very sharp change made to something. The word comes from Latin, and is related to the word revolutio (which means a turn around). From the video clips in circulation, Sowore himself never called for a violent struggle or an unconstitutional regime change. The narratives of visiting Kanu in Isreal and the hearsay account of how he threatened the future existence of DSS are at best stretched to call a dog a bad name in order to hang him.
I have never met this Sowore of a person and would have no reason to defend him. I only speak as a student of revolutionary studies. There are several typologies of revolution. They include political, socio-economical, agricultural, industrial, rural, insurgency, ethnic cleansing, etc.
A close study of the elements of the one under reference shows that it is situated in the socio- economic prototype revolution, judging from the demands of the aspiring-revolution canvassers. In other words, these are demands for institutional reforms to improve the quality of lives in Nigeria. The usual reaction to these demands in standard democracies, is the government’s guarantee to change the systemic deficiencies and thereafter work to improve the socio- economic system for the good of all. It is unusual to hound those clamoring for an improved system in a non- violent manner as we are witnessing today.
Indeed, several violent revolutions are going on in the country now that should worry the government more than the threat of an inchoate aspiring non- violent revolution. What do we think is going on with the violence that is now associated with herdsmen and bandits? They are pure violent revolutions aimed at disrupting the social order and revolt against the government. They are akin to guerrilla war against the Nigerian State and its citizens. For now, the government needs to spend its energy and resources to deal with the mess that those herdsmen and bandits daily create.
Sowore‘s arrest and detention should really not go beyond the limit of severe reprimand for the impressions conveyed by the type of language he used within the context of our constitutional democracy. At least, one lesson is clear to all of us now; let us guard our tongues carefully, even if we are very angry with the state of our nation. Let the Federal Government be lenient to Sowore.
Dr. West-Idahosa is a former Member of the House of Representatives and a Private Legal Practitioner.