“I am afraid you have to tell me your definition of an activist and give me examples. I honestly do not know who is an activist these days,” – these are the words of the spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed when asked to speak about the impact of activists in Nigerian politics today.
Following the rise in the numbers of activists in Nigeria and their political participation recently, a lot of misconceptions and ideologies have been preached on and off the internet, hence Naija News saw the need to shed some light on the subject matter.
This brought the platform to an exclusive interview with Baba-Ahmed who was able to establish some facts worthy to hold onto about the lingering misconception about one being an activist or a politician.
Naija News understands that the first thing that comes to the mind of the average Nigerian whenever the word activist is mentioned is; an influencer or political enforcer.
This perception, however, according to Baba-Ahmed, has damaged the effectiveness of many who identified themselves as activists, adding that it has as well cut short their relevance in society.
In his remark, the elite said there is no harm in being a political activist. He, however, warned that the actors must stay off engagements that will mar their main cause of being an activist.
“Activism is part of the broad political process. It is meaningful only if it has a defined objective of affecting change or social order for an issue or set of issues,” the NEF spokesman told Naija News.
Baba-Ahmed continued: “Activists can get involved with particular political causes or parties, as they do now, largely on the understanding that certain political forces can benefit their causes if they improve their influence over the political process.
“To the degree that their cause and identity are not compromised by that involvement, there is no harm either to them or to causes with which they are identified.
“Integrity is a vital part of social and political activism, and it can be damaged by poor judgements in alliances and partners.
“In Nigeria, activism is still substantially underdeveloped and is easily compromised by political partisanship and shortsighted opportunism.”
Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan disclosed on Tuesday why he placed a call to Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 to concede defeat in the then-presidential election.
Naija News recalls that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain called Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to concede defeat as votes were being called out during the 2015 election.
The call by Jonathan to Buhari was widely commended locally and internationally as it was seen as an act that prevented bloodshed by some of his supporters.
Speaking at the Goodluck Jonathan 2022 Peace Conference on Tuesday themed, “Nation Building: The Role of Elections in a Multi-ethnic Context”, the former resident said the call was a “collective decision to save Nigeria”, Jonathan warned politicians to tread with caution in the run-up to the 2023 general election, saying there first must be a country before their aspiration.
While noting that the era of ballot box snatching was over because of the introduction of electronic voting as contained in the new electoral act, he said “we saved the country collectively.”
Jonathan recounted his experience in his hometown, where ballot boxes were snatched during the first and second republic, but maintained that “all these are a thing of the past because of innovations in the electoral act.”
He explained that “First and foremost, there must be a country first. If you destroy a country, how can you be the president of Nigeria or governor?
“Those who want to be president, there must be a country first. So, those who want to be president tell your supporters that there must be a country first.”