Op-ed: Becoming a Political Activist in Nigeria

By Olalekan Adigun

If you are a job seeker or need to change jobs, the best career advice is for you to become an activist. Sure, you are passionate about something: the environment or climate change, out-of-school children, drug addictions among juveniles and the likes. You are not just becoming an activist, I’m talking about the biggest of all – a political activist. This is the latest goldmine many young people aren’t currently exploring.

Like every other career, you must be meticulous and deliberate in your choices. To make it big, you just need a quick few steps to become a star political activist.

You may wonder why I’m sharing this information with you. Believe me, it’s been the same pattern since my undergraduate days at Obafemi Awolowo University. It’s the last home of Students’ Unionism in Nigeria. So, trust me if I say you can make it as an activist. I just chose not to make a career of it because I don’t see activism as a career but as a vocation. But, I want you to make it a career because everyone seems to be doing it.

Before we go, please don’t come out in the beginning to use the tag “political activist”. That is an automatic red flag. Everyone suspects politicians. Politicians are not trustworthy people. Just call yourself things like “human rights activists”, “active citizen”, “civic organizer” etc. the tag “human rights activists” seems overused. So, I don’t strongly recommend it.

Following the caveat, you can now follow me in your journey to become an activist – sorry, political activist.  Do the following and you will be just fine:

1. Attack the government

As an activist, I don’t need to tell you that the easiest route is to attack the government. Everyone does not trust the government. So, attack. Say very ridiculous things. Attack the government’s fault lines.

Don’t neglect this step. It’s crucial in getting credibility. Pretend you care about justice. Emphase your “rights” to propagate absolute falsehoods in public.

It may not be easy in your first few weeks but continue. Nothing good ever comes easy. If it looks like things aren’t working, change the plans a bit. Single out some politicians you know people hate, then launch the missile on them. Do not stop. Call them names. The more the name sticks, the more your credibility.

Becoming a political activist is showbiz. You will need all publicity you can get. The easiest way to get this is by attacking the government or specific politicians.

Mind you, some politicians will ignore you but others will care for their reputation. The point is to pick your battles carefully.    

2. Organise Protest

After you’ve invested heavily into attacking the government, you will need to further demonstrate your credibility and capacity for your growing audience. At this point, I need not tell you about the importance of social media.

Your followers will believe whatever you tell them. They trust you absolutely by now. With this trust earned, look for anything to protest against. Just anything but make it something many people don’t like. It could be government officials using sirens on public roads.

If your followers don’t turn up in their numbers, don’t be discouraged. Nothing good comes easy. Continue pressing for protests. Jump at every opportunity to organize protests – online or offline. If organizing an offline protest isn’t working, start organizing Twitter Space. It is cheaper and safer for your growing followers. You need to keep them engaged. Let them talk, rant, and vent. You need to get them as angry as you can. Make them look stupid for not getting angry enough. Talk angrily, yourself. After all, “holy anger” is in the Bible.  

At all costs, organize a protest. That is your “work experience” as a political activist. Nobody will take you seriously without this all-important work experience.

3. Get Arrested

As a political activist, the peak of your career is to get arrested by security agencies. If it seems the security agencies are ignoring you, arrange to be arrested. Be desperate to get arrested.

There are so many ways to do this. If you are a lawyer, commit contempt of court deliberately. Make the case that the judge does not have the right to stop you from talking.

You can even deliberately assault a law enforcement officer on duty and claim you were arrested because you’re an activist.  

In everything you do, get arrested. After the arrest, add it to your profile like “I was detained four times by the Buhari regime”.

4. Open an account for Donation

As an activist, you need money. A lot of it. Activism is not cheap. You need money to buy data and move around. Noise-making costs money. This money will come from donations.

You will have to open a GoFundMe account where you will be receiving donations. You don’t need to account for this money at all. Accountability should be the least of your worries. After all, politicians are embezzling billions, so, why care about a few millions in my account? It’s not taxpayers’ money in any case, why should I be accountable when you didn’t donate to my account?  

5. Set up an NGO

You will need to have your non-governmental organisation. You can’t rely on existing NGOs except they have agreed to fund your activities. I doubt they will. Even if they do, as your profile grows, so will your need to be independent. So, you will need to have your NGO where you will be the absolute authority over funds.

You can’t be following protocols every time you need to withdraw N100,000 for your hookup babe now? In which account will you write that?

6. Keeping making noise and increase your voice

Your noise level tempo will need to be increased. Always have hot takes on social media no matter how controversial. Unleash your growing online mob on anyone who questions your credibility. Let them fight for you. You’re too big to be responding to small fries. After all, you are the one who fought the “might Federal Government”. Why should you stoop so low to be dealing with ants when your ever-loyal followers have the best responses?

7. Try seeking asylum “The state is after me”

At this point, you may have to deal with some scandals: financial impropriety, sexual predation and the likes. The best thing to do is leave the country by claiming the government is after you “for exposing them”. Say it as you mean it. You need to distract attention away from your dirty linens. Claim that your life is in danger to get asylum in neighbouring countries.

You are now a career activist if you can just do all these. You may not become Gani Fawehinmi or Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. But, that is how it’s done in Nigeria, at least!

Olalekan Adigun, an Accidental Writer, sent this piece from Lagos. His Twitter handle is @MrLekanAdigun. His email address is adgorwell@gmail.com

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