During my visit to Paris earlier this year, I visited Versailles. Actually, Versailles was the one place in Paris that I was really eager to visit. My desire to visit Versailles was ignited when I read the book “Angelique and The King”. The book is a historical fiction set in Versailles. The heroine, Angelique, is a fictional character but all most of the other characters, are actual historical figures. In the story, Angelique catches the eye of Louis XIV (the king who enlarged Versailles into a royal palace) and he tries to make her one of his many mistresses. I really loved the book so I was naturally curious to see the palace.
Versailles is easily one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places I have ever seen in my life (especially the Hall of Mirrors). It is very obvious that attention was paid to the details. The architecture, the paintings and the garden were all very magnificent (or ‘Magnifique’ as they say in French). Even though I admired the beauty of Versailles, seeing the palace made me understand why the French Revolution occurred. Versailles was built on the back of the commoners: the common people had to suffer to maintain the lavish lifestyles of the royals and nobles.
Visiting the palace and understanding why the common people revolted, I wondered if there will ever be a revolution in Nigeria. I wonder what it will take for Nigerians to stand up and say “Enough is enough”. When I listen to corruption news and I hear the outrageous sums of money that Nigerian politicians steal/ misappropriate or whatever word they use these days because according to our former president, “Stealing is not corruption”. Whenever I hear the billions (not millions) of Nairas that is stolen, I am so shocked and sometimes, my heart rate elevates (no exaggeration). There is so much that needs to be addressed in Nigeria and people take the money and spend it on unimportant things: they buy cars, very expensive clothes and shoes and so on.
I wouldn’t be as frustrated if the misappropriated funds are used to help our economy. For example, the stolen funds could be used to create industries in Nigeria that will generate employment. The misappropriation would still be a crime in that situation but at least (at the very least) employment opportunities will be created and we all know how big an issue unemployment is in Nigeria. What is happening now is that the stolen money is hidden in Switzerland/Panama or wherever criminals hide money these days.
I know a lot of people (especially the older ones) are afraid of violence because of the horrors of the Biafran War but revolutions don’t have to be violent. In recent times, there have been peaceful protests in other countries such as Burundi, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The protests only become violent when the rulers send in security forces to stop the protest. I don’t think that will happen in Nigeria because Nigeria is very concerned about its international image: we want to be perceived as a democratic nation (even though that is not true). I will say this (because it’s Independence Day and I want to say something positive about my country), there is freedom of speech in Nigeria: people can criticise or even insult the president or other elected officials without getting arrested.
I’m not advocating violence or destruction of property but we just need some kind of way to let the government know that we will not stand for certain actions. I am saying this because the way things are going (this is such a Nigerian expression), the youth might not have a future to lead or even if we do, we will need to begin our future in debt because there will be no money in the country’s account. We can generate funds by borrowing from IMF, World Bank and other international lending organisations but those loans may/will come with stipulations which basically means that the nation will not be fully independent (Wow, I guess I just ruined someone’s Independence Day celebration).
I don’t mean to be a downer on Independence Day (Happy Birthday Nigeria) but I decided to talk about this topic today because gaining independence was a revolutionary act and for Nigeria to see many more birthdays, more revolutionary acts are required.