Flowing from our discussion last week on the subject of ALUTA, today, we shall be dealing with ALUTA SPIRIT. And so in defining ALUTA Spirit, let us refresh our minds on the meaning of ALUTA for the benefits of fresh readers.
The word ‘ALUTA’, which is actually from the phrase ‘ALUTA CONTINUA, VICTORIA ASCERTA’ which means ‘The Struggle Continues, Victory is certain’ in the real sense classically means “STRUGGLE”; the word is widely associated with a STRUGGLE for Freedom or LIBERATION of people from any form of Oppression, Repression or Subjugation.
ALUTA Spirit is the spirit to fight for one’s right or lead the struggle to fight for the rights of others by engaging in peaceful or non-violent demonstrations against the obnoxious, ungodly or draconian policies and/or acts of governments or authorities. It is a spirit inbuilt in the minds of Nigerian student leaders based on the principle of “injury to one is injury to all”.When one is filled with the spirit of ALUTA, nothing else matters more than fighting a just cause for the emancipation of a people, no matter how few, from the hands of oppressors. Those who have passed through the real rudiments of the struggle understand clearly what the spirit of Aluta means and how far it can push and sustain the determination and resolve of student leaders in the fight for a just cause.
I recall an incident that happened in the year 2000, when my Leader, Comrade Anderson Ezeibe as Senate President of NANS under the leadership of Comrade Philip Shaibu as NANS President, led us to a struggle in Abia State Polythecnic, Aba to fight against the policy of the institution’s management at that time which required students who had been offered admission through the institution’s preliminary programme to pay a certain fee of One Thousand Five Hundred Naira (#1,500) as fee for JAMB form, when in fact they had no business with filling any JAMB form. And so during our visit to the institution, we convened an emergency student congress and briefed the students about our mission and the need to be steadfast, committed and resilient in the struggle as we were sure that the management would reverse that policy.
Before the Senate President spoke, Comrade Duru Amarachukwu A. spoke to the students first, and he started his speech with a song that goes thus; “eni ALUTA wole wa – which means spirit of ALUTA come down”, and with that song which was rendered also in English and Igbo, the atmosphere became charged with students dedicating their entire day to the struggle even though it did not affect them directly. The good news is that while the Senate President and a few leaders went in to discuss with the management, some of us were asked to keep the congress alive till the meeting is over, and so we continued the congress until they came out of the meeting to announce a reversal of the policy. A similar incident also happened when we visited Federal Polythecnic, Uwanna – Afikpo in Ebonyi State to initiate a struggle for the institution of a democratic student union government in that institution.
Applying the same strategy of convening a student congress and keeping it alive until the end of a parley between NANS leaders and the management yielded the desired result of the institution’s management agreeing to a time-table for the conduct of election for a democratic student union government.On a personal note, I had felt the spirit of ALUTA taking over me and moving me to act and lead a struggle I was initially not interested in being a part of. This happened in my National Youth Service year during the Orientation Camp in Government Technical College, Ungogo, Kano state in the year 2002. On a certain Saturday, at about 4pm in January of that year, we came out for evening parade, and the Camp Commandant, a Captain in the Nigerian Army at that time, was already in the firld before many of us, and so he had put a barricade to separate the late comers from those that came out on time with a view to meting out punishment on the late comers.
Somehow, a particular Corp member tried to sneak into the midst of the early Corp members but the Commandant sighted him and pursued him, hit his head with the baton and immediately blood was seen on the head of the Corp member, other Corp members started protesting and calling for the head of the Captain, who was at that point whisked out of the arena by his junior soldiers. One thing led to another, and before one knows it, it has turned into a demonstration by Corp members. At this point, a Corp member from my institution, UNIZIK, approached me and said, Presido, why not come and lead this demonstration, I quickly turned it down, saying I did not want to get involved in the demonstration, and I reminded him that this is NYSC, not the University campus. But scarcely had I finished responding to him when a certain force, similar in feeling, but now bigger in magnitude and proportion, entered me and took over me, pushing me to move and lead the struggle, and I responded by moving in immediately to address the Corp members, declaring myself the President of National Association of Nigerian Corpers, and just like that I became the leader of that protest. When the Camp Director spoke to us, he specifically begged me, as the Leader, recognizing my acclaimed position as President, to maintain peace, assuring us that the State Director would be around soon to meet with us. And so, together with the leaders of the sixteen platoons selected for the meeting, we had a successful deliberation with the State Director and her team, where we insisted that a new Camp Commandant be brought, and eventually, a new Camp Commandant, this time a Major in the Nigerian Army was brought-in to take over the camp.
It is important to stress here that the spirit of ALUTA can only dwell on a person who is inclined to towing the honest part of fighting for a just cause for the benefit of the people. When the spirit of ALUTA is invoked, it will only come upon the leaders who are fair and just, it does not come upon ‘scopists’ and ‘gbemists’.
This is therefore, a charge on the new generation of student leaders to evict from their herats and minds, such acts that will pitch them against the spirit of ALUTA, rather they are encouraged to emulate the giant strides of noble Leaders mentioned here, and so many others who have made selfless sacrifice in fighting for the freedom and liberty they enjoy today.
Comrade Igwe Patrick Afubera writes from Abuja.