A CALL TO ACTION
Dear Emerging Nigerian Leaders:
Today, the most powerful country in the world is once again holidaying. America is staying home to celebrate a certain black man named Martin Luther King Junior. We know what he did, but for those who may not be too sure, he led a movement that confronted one of the worst injustices against black people in America. He fought racism and segregation and, succeeded in effecting some positive changes.
This morning, a senior citizen in her nineties told me in tears how bad it was then. “In many counties, blacks could not legally ride the same bus with whites, dine in the same restaurants with whites, sit in the same classrooms with whites or even worship in the same Church with whites. If they had to, they were not allowed to sit or stand anywhere close to the whites. This went on for years and years”, she said.
One morning, a young black Baptist Pastor named Martin decided that things must change. He stepped out of the pulpit and started a movement with his colleagues, and things changed. Though racism against black people has not completely disappeared in America, we can all agree that Martin and his colleagues brought about some positive changes. Just this morning, I, a black man, had breakfast in a restaurant with two whites sitting on same table with me. I, a black Priest, celebrated mass this morning with two white ladies serving as lectors. And a black man sits in the oval office, the most powerful office in the world. Thank you Martin. Rest in Peace Brother!
But how did Martin and his colleagues do it? By whining? By shooting? By complying? By resigning to fate (faith)? By spiritistic invocations? By running for offices? Nope! BY NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE OF AN UNJUST SYSTEM. Martin and his colleagues started refusing to give up their seats for white people in the bus. They started sitting anywhere they liked in the restaurants. Scream at them, kick them around, call the police on them. They resisted. They organized hundreds of peaceful protests. Hundreds of times they were arrested. Hundreds of times they were beaten. Some were killed. Many were imprisoned. They kept matching around and resisting. Years and years went by, they kept resisting and resisting and resisting. That was how they ended legal black segregation in America.
We need Martins in Nigeria to start resisting all forms of corruption in Nigeria. Black segregation was worst in America than corruption and tribalism are in Nigeria today. Don’t forget, black segregation was legal in America at the time of Martin, but corruption and tribalism are illegal in Nigeria. So, Martin’s task was tougher. I have a dream that if we can find Martins in Nigeria who can lead movements against corruption and tribalism in Nigeria, it may not take them as long as it took Martin to bring positive changes. The scale of corruption in Nigeria is so massive that I would suggest a movement for each form of corruption. We need a Martin to lead a movement against “sorting” on campus. We need another Martin to lead a movement against bribery in public service. We need yet another Martin to lead a movement against fraud….
Let’s stop whining and start acting. Let’s stop complying and start resisting. Let’s stop preaching to the choir and start matching down the streets. Let’s stop dreaming of change and start working for it. NON-VIOLENT RESISTANCE works. It worked for Jesus Christ. It worked for Mahatma Ghandi. It worked for Martin and his colleagues. It will work in Nigeria. But we must start now!
GODSWILL, REV. AGBAGWA
PRESIDENT, CSAAE INC.