•The elite must listen to Aisha Yesufu’s admonition on peaceful change
Last week, Aisha Yesufu, whose iconic picture of a raised fist, during the #EndSARS protest, became one of the symbols of that protest, granted an interview to The Punch Newspaper in which she advised educated Nigerians to work for a bloodless revolution, otherwise those who are hungry will kill everyone. Aisha has been outspoken against injustice and incompetence in governance, especially during and after the protest. While many have praised her courage, some have condemned her visibility and outspokenness, based on cultural beliefs.
We agree with her analysis that it is in the general interest of the educated Nigerians to hold those in government accountable, otherwise those who suffer most from the mismanagement of the economy – the hungry, may wake up one day and attack everyone. She is also correct to posit that rioters don’t normally discriminate between those in government and the rest of the elites. The recent destruction of both government and private properties by rioters who hijacked the #EndSARS protest, is a pointer to the correctness of her analysis.
Perhaps there are some educated elites who think like Aisha. One example is the recent promise by the private sector, known as Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), to spend N175 billion to create four million jobs in the next five years and rebuild 44 police stations destroyed by the hooligans who hijacked the #EndSARS protest. That decision bears out the timely advice given by Yesufu. Hopefully, the members of CACOVID may have realised the need to channel part of the humongous profits they make to sustain the needed peace and tranquility, without which the socio-economic environment for business will collapse.
Those in government must also wake up to the time bomb that hunger and deprivation for the greatest majority constitute for the privileged few. It will be foolish to think that the wealthy can live in peace and affluence, while the poor are hungry and hopeless. Those in government should feel more threatened because they are viewed by the rest of the members of the society as the causers of the crises faced by the rest of the people.
So, the educated elite, whether serving in government or in the private sector, should worry about the quality of governance in the country. They should speak up, and join forces to ensure that the quality of life, security and general welfare of the people remain the paramount interest of the government. Anytime the government deviates from the cardinal objectives of government, which is the welfare and security of the governed, they owe it a duty to challenge those in power.To act otherwise is to invite the kind of anarchic situation the country fell into a few weeks ago.
Yesufu also raised objection to the religious and cultural fallacies which the privileged elites rely on to subjugate women. We agree with her that some false religious precepts are promoted to emasculate women, who constitute about half of the population. She also raved against ignorance because of the lack of education, calling on women to get educated to shun false precepts.
Instead of condemning Aisha Yesufu, she deserves to be listened to. Her call for eradication of ignorance and poverty is in the general interest of everyone. The warning that educated Nigerians should work for the emancipation of the poor to engender bloodless revolution makes sense. We urge governments at all levels to take steps to end the grinding poverty in the country. President Muhammadu Buhari, who is reputedly a friend of the poor, should champion a bloodless revolution, by engineering policies that will ensure the security of lives and property.