The recent arrests some “social media activists,” as popularly being called was condemned by most of us. But what I intend to do is to let all of us know what would eventually befall us when we decide to stand against injustice, on whatever media.
The great American politician, Abraham Lincoln once observed that, “if you want peace; don’t be popular.” Activism is one of the quickest way of getting popularity and hence of losing one’s peace. Some leaders started as activists but the humiliation and incarceration they face from authorities would make them so popular that the society might give them a chance to put into reality some of the ideals they advocated for. From critics, they would metamorphose into objects of criticism. Often, they too could, in the long run, intimidate and incarcerate others for what they used to do.
For a viable, progressive and free society to exist, the Leader, the Led and the Critic must co-exist in a simultaneous, collaborative way. The absence of either the first or the last threatens the taking over of anarchy. Leaders are people, usually extraordinary intelligent, but people all the same. They are people with inadequacies as found in all human species. Despite their team of advisers with expertise, they could err here and there. They are not infallible in their actions. They are not flawless in their policies, they are HUMANS first and Leaders afterwards. This innate tendency to make mistakes by leaders prompts the urgent need for the emergence of activist groups with the task of exposing this mistakes for the common good. They study the policies, plans and actions of leaders and comment in a productive way why this is wrong and why that should be amended.
Often, the tension is created at this point. The reason for that could be numerous. A leader tends to clamp down on critics when he suffers from isolation. His confinement to the power house makes him unaware of what really happens in the outside world. He is daily fed by his subordinates and secrets service agents of what goes around these areas he rules. Remember, Hazrat Umar R.A used to go round Medina to see and hear hear for himself as a Khalifa. So If the society is not lucky, the leader is fed with nothing but lies upon lies. He is blinded by the people he trusted most. They might create the impression in him that he is flawless according to led when the led are entirely disappointed in him. The critics could be thought of by the leader as people RECRUITED to dent his image. He might also see them as people with PERSONAL not public grudges against him. He might also see them as OPPORTUNISTS trying to reap where they did not sow by spreading rumours and planting lies to seek cheap popularity. Before long, the repressive forces, something like the present day police, would be used to silence dissidents and put a stop to criticism thereby creating a dictator, a despot who would proceed to act godly. By the time he realises, it could be way too late.
It is important to understand that, like in democratic dispensation, leaders come and go but the REPRESSIVE forces, today’s SSS, the Police, etc remain. The same forces used by a leader to suppress his critics would be used by the critics to suppress other critics if they come to the power mantle.
But the essential thing is that with all the suppression, intimidation, incarceration, etc, the structure essentially remain the same. The critic/activist exists where leader exists. One aspect was never known to completely wipe out the other. The two needed each other if only they reason well. Where the two manage to co-exist in a tolerant way, the Led, the society in general progresses faster then imagined.
History has taught us despite the ruthlessness of the Abacha regime, it had to live with the Gani’s, the Obasanjo’s had to live with the Bala Usman’s, the Buba Galadima’s, apartheid South Africa had to live with the Biko’s, the Kathrada’s, the Mandela’s. Even Obama himself, despite the FBI and CIA at his disposal, have to live with the Chomky’s, the Snowden’s.
Back to the subject matter, the Katsina State Government cannot silence activists by arresting them. In fact, that action would certainly produce other activists who would troop in to be arrested and win cheap popularity. Imagine someone saying, “I was arrested by the Governer!” Huh? The best it could do is to recruit it’s own batch of activists who would be counter attacking it’s critics. There are freelancers all over. This is what is practiced in Kano right now. There are always to versions to every story when you listen to “Kowane Gauta” on Freedom Radio. It is important for the government to also come to terms with with the fact that the activists too want Katsina to progress. They are doing what they are doing to help, in their own capacity, so that the state progresses to another level. Moreso, the Masari administration is the most credibly elected government since 1999. So where much is given, much is expected. It should not be detaining the same people who used the same social media to campaign against the former Governor.
For the activists, Social media or not, do not expect to do allowed to go freely all the time. We are yet to to be the US or the UK democratically. We are heading there, but not yet there. Expect intimidation and even incarceration at at a moment like this. Arm yourself with the truth, it is your best weapon. Do not be scared. The society needs you the same way way it needs the government. Do not rely on rumours. That’s for the shallow minds!
“You can kill revolutionaries, but you cannot kill ideas” Thomas Isidore Sankara.