In the Igbo lore an adage tells us that whatever time a man wakes up that’s his own morning. On this premise I dare say that the recent staging of a nationwide protest against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and police brutality in particular could not have come at a better time, yes, indeed, at a better morning, given the spate of extra-judicial killings targeted at defenseless Nigerian youth. While the move is noble and laudable the clashing ideals that later clogged and misdirected the movement is spiteful to say the least.
What started out as a peaceful protest with its prime objective of putting an end to oppression and brutality of all military fashion was gaining the appropriate momentum and attendant fame and focus up until an army of disgruntled Nigerians, who could no longer grapple with the daily economic hardship confronting them, owing to squarely failures of leadership, decided to naively heap many unrelated demands on the protest than it can naturally handle. And all effort from thoughtful Nigerians by way of advise to the movers of the protest on methods of redirecting and refocusing of the movement from leading to violent outbursts and possibly war was derided as cowardice and followed with earbashing.
No student of politics can gainsay that a simple rally, if properly organised, can put considerable pressure on government to put a check on say, as in this case, police excesses (that is, if the government is sensitive enough). But to talk of a civil protest(with such a scale and character of protesters as we saw) putting and abrupt end to the mammoth problem of bad governance is nothing short from ridiculous! It requires much more than holding placards in the streets and chanting revolution mantra. We need a radical programme of social, economic and political restructuring as well as well-conceived and consistent agenda of reform across the political spectrum of the entity Nigeria.
I am not here saying that the situation in the country is not a sufficient or necessary condition to insight a revolution. Quite on the contrary. What am saying is that we do not yet have that level of discipline to follow through a revolution. At least, the massive looting that preceded the movement is a sufficient proof. The bloodletting that was the outcome of the protest did not and should not have come as a suprise at all. And it beats me why we were suprised. Even a responsible and sensitive government would feel slighted by the ‘other’ demands of the protest and employ all the machievillian tactics in its arsenal to kill the protest and remain installed as a government-not to talk of a government that has a record of being cunningly repressive.
Besides, such protest with it potentiality for revolution is not a football match where the vast majority of its players sit as spectators while cheering a few to go for the win(it is a life-and-death situation). Nor is it a lame talk for some silver tongues to seize the occasion to display ‘cheap-heriosm’, sparking the fire of revolution and possibly war that they are not sincerely and completely up for only to back out or sneak out of the country when the fire of war is raging furiously. The truth is we do not need to shed the blood of Nigerians to put an end to bad governance. If only we wake up to our responsibilities, we can, the electorates especially!
The peaceful demonstration as envisaged Unleashed a bloody Armageddon on us, though it was shortlived. That one can only wondered what would have been left of us if it had persisted. There were massive vandalism and looting especially of private properties, and atrocities of every noun took the centre stage in the guise of civil demonstration-threatening our existence as a nation. All of which are now blamed on so called ‘hoodlums’ who are being accused of hijacking the peaceful course of the protest. Still others are of the opinion that our government and political elites are the mastermind of the gory outcome of the protest. A goriness that was climaxed Tuesday 20 of October(black Tuesday as it would now go down in the annals of our history). While this accusation and counter accusation may or may not be true; this interesting questions should not elude our asking: Did these ‘hoodlums’ drop from the cloud? Are they not Nigerians, particularly youth, like ourselves? Whether we like to hear the truth or not does not changed the simple truth that the vast majority of the youth of this country are still a puppet in the hands of the same elements they want to so earnestly eliminate from the political space of the country. An equally interesting question is how far can we go from their exploits and manipulations? Therefore, before anything else, we need that break first from their puppetry.
I will now lay the ghost to rest and not bore my readers more than I have already done. Other than address the initial question raised. Did the protest really fail? Quite honestly, the answer is a categorical no! In the very voice of the president, ‘our voice was loud and clear’. As a matter of fact, the government had demonstrated a readiness to acquiesce to the demand of the protest. And SARS had promptly been disbanded way before the unfortunate massacre of defenceless youth at the Lekki toll-gate. As for the other unconnected but equally pressing demands, it is until we come to term with the fact that we the electorate are a collaborator with the government in this issue of bad governance we would not make meaningful progress. No government can victimize it’s citizens without their permission or consent. Even Falz seem to have forgotten his beautiful lyrical rendition in his song, hypocrite, which is capable of stimulating guilt and shame. Before taking the centre stage during the protest against the government.
‘and what about even you voters wey dey act like say you only see two jokers,recycle the same corrupt men later you complain say you hate the government’.
I just hope in our coming election vote buying would not come up in our political discuss and eventually in the actual electoral process. As a student of Economics, I don’t know vote to be a ‘commodity’ that should be traded on the floor of a ‘political market’.To this end, we need an awakening which I must admit that the protest has succeeded, in part,to do.
While we decry the killings at the toll-gate we must equally condemn the destruction and looting of properties and assets as both are a travesty of justice. We all are guilty of the same crime to our nation. All is to be blamed and none is to be exempted of blame! The post-protest happenings have only reveal our level of inhumanity to ourselves from the palliative stacked away in warehouses from the reach of common Nigerian by the so called ‘high-and-mighty’ to the robbing of private entrepreneurs of their resources by aggrieved ‘hoodlums’. In the final analysis, With this negative inclinations we have demonstrated, I can’t help but agree with Ayi Kwei Armah’s sentiment that:
THE BEAUTIFUL ONES ARE NOT YET BORN.