Lawyer and right activist, Abdul Mahmud popularly known as the Great Oracle has stated that the arrest of Publisher of Online Based news medium, Saharareporters by the Department of State Security Service, may Invariably turn out to ignite public interest in the demands of the new radical movement in Nigeria.
The lawyer stated this in a series of tweets on his official twitter handle.
See his tweets below…
“Are there parallels between the 1948 “call to revolution” of the Zikists and the 2019 “revolution now” of Sowore? A peep into the exploits of activists Zik described as “fissiparous lieutenants and canterkerous followers” comes tomorrow.”
First, a bit about the Zikist Movement; a name coined by Nwafor Orizu, the Nnewi Prince, in his book, Without Bitterness. Second, a background on the politics that birthed the Zikist Movement.
I begin with the second. First, an apology: the tweets in this thread are basically products of my memory and where there’re inaccuracies as to dates of events and names of personages, please, forgive me.
The history of Nigeria’s anti-colonial struggles cannot be complete without a mention of the role of the Zikist Movement, a movement established as a response to the lethargy that had lulled the pro-independence movement into inaction.
Drawing from the experiences of the pro-independence movement in the Indian subcontinent, anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and the gains of the independence movement in Canada,
Angry youths who rejected the incipient tribal politics of the Ibo Union, Egbe Omo Oduduwa and the Arewa, the opportunism of the emergent middle class, and embraced a radical programme of positive action
Established on 6 February 1946 by MCK Ajuluchukwu (Igbo), Abiodun Aloba (Edo), Kola Balogun (Yoruba) and Nduka Eze (Igbo), Kola became its protem President, until a year later when Nwafor Orizu persuaded the Kano-based Osita Agwuna and Raji Abdallah.
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To merge their Anti-Colour Bar Movement to the Zikist Movement. In that year, Abdallah was elected President, Agwuna VP and Ajuluchukwu Secretary General. Herbert Macaulay also became a member, though he resented the name of the movement.
According to the highly regarded scholar on Nigerian politics, Professor Richar Sklar. It must be stated that the Zikists were ideologically clear as radical socialist. And the Movement had the following objectives:
1) To promote self-determination as the inalienable rights of the people 2) To promote a just distribution of the national wealth 3) Immediate independence from the UK
In 1948, having established 29 branches across Nigeria, the Zikist Movement issued what it called the “Call to Revolution”- a programme of progressive and positive action with civil disobedience, without violence. A 13-point programme of action was thus issued:
1) Boycott British goods 2) Boycott of schools and employment 3) Non-payment of taxes 4)Mass violation of colonial laws 5) Flooding of prisons with protesters 6) Programme of non-cooperation Among others.
As the leading nationalist at time, with national appeal, Zik was thus thrust into the national struggle, even though his head and heart were not in the radical agitation of the Zikist Movement. The leaders of the Zikist Movement had hoped that implicating Zik in their Struggles was sufficient enough to provoke the British colonial government to arrest and jail Zik, to spark a national resistance against the British colonial government. It was a strategy drawn from India ( when Nehru was jailed) they had hoped would work.
While the old fox used his media outlet, West African Pilot, to support the Zikist Movement, Zik personally attacked them in speeches at public programmes. He out-witted the young Turks, the Zikists.
The Zikists didn’t relent when in 1948 they called for a radical programme of positive action- the call to revolution. The Zikists were rounded up the British colonial government and prosecuted for sedition,
After the yearlong trial, which ended on 2 February 1949, Enahoro, Agwuna, Abdallah, Oged Macaulay and Smart were jailed. In his speech just before sentence, Abdallah said to the British judge:
“I am a citizen of Nigeria, holding no allegiance to any foreign government and bound by no other law other than Nigerian native law and laws of the nations.
We have passed the age of petition. We have passed the age of resolutions. This is the age of action- plain, blunt and positive action”. He was jailed 2 years, for which he served 16 months.
Those who claim we have no pro-independence heroes have not read the history of Nigeria. We have heroes, who sacrificed their freedoms for the freedoms we all enjoy today.
Another parallel are the responses of the British colonial government (to the Zikist Movement) and Buhari’s government (to Core/Sowore): don’t engage, just snatch and grab- arrest and detain, if need be, prosecute!
If history repeats itself as a farce, it is already self-evident that this government will prosecute Sowore for treason and treasonable offences. If it happens, Marx view of history both as farce and tragedy comes true, yet again.
Third and final parallel is what I describe as the Nehru-effect: the leader giving up himself for arrest, trial and imprisonment to popularize and massify the struggle. Recall that the Zikists had propositioned Zik as Nehru, though Zik betrayed the Zikists.
Sowore’s arrest may invariably turn out to ignite public interest in the demands of the new radical movement. It may as well not turn out that way in a country that is already deeply divided along ethnic and religious lines.
Or like Zik who abandoned the Zikists, Sowore’s followers would perhaps abandon him. And like Zik, they would perhaps end up describing him as a “fissiparous and cantankerous leader”. Perhaps, not. Only time will tell.