What is the way forward?
Two weeks ago, Nigerians all over the country took to the streets to protest against the injustice meted on them by men of the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit of the Nigerian Police Force. They vehemently. deliberately, and insistently called for an end to the notorious rogue unit with the slogan END SARS and the hashtag #EndSARS on all social media platforms.
Read more about #EndSARS
The #EndSARS movement posed as a leaderless movement because of the fear of the corruptibility of man in order not to sabotage the movement but yet spoke with one voice. This movement grew to become a social consciousness, defied religious and ethnic affiliations, and even matured in tenacity. In the mind of many, there had suddenly been an awakening of the youths that make up close to 60% of the Nigerian population and they have come to demand a seat at the decision-making table. More important was the wave of organisation, unity, and synergy that inundated every state that participated in the peaceful process.
The demands of the youths who have been taken for granted for donkey years were not rocket science and implementation shouldn’t be an uphill task. But the government showed a very lethargic interest towards the plight of the people they swore an oath to serve and instead decided to use brute force on them, meeting their demand for a stop to police brutality with more brutality and an end to violence with more violence.
The situation of things escalated beyond imagination on Tuesday, 20th of October 2020 at the Lekki Toll Gate. A day described by some as ‘Black Tuesday’ and by others as the ‘Lekki Massacre’. The event of this day paints a picture of an utter disrespect of the Nigerian government on the Nigerian youths. Commentators have described the dastardly act as Nigeria waging war against her future. Live rounds were fired into the large gathering of peaceful protesters who were seated on the ground, singing the Nigerian national anthem. The horror scenes of Tuesday and the days that followed, throughout the federation, will take a series of therapeutic sessions to help Nigerians heal.
Though it is not a recent discovery, a lack of leadership was witnessed in the midst of the carnage, looting, destruction, and arson that greeted the Nigerian state. For 48 hours, Nigeria functioned on a directionless autopilot. It took the president and Vice president of the federation more than 30 hours to address the nation. Addressing a nation torn apart by grief, pain, trepidation, indignation, anarchy, and death became a chore to those who swore oaths to protect the same citizens that went through violence to make sure that they assumed and retained their positions.
Demoralisingly, when the president did speak to the people, he did so with an evident show of aloofness and carelessness. His address lacked merit, seriousness, and empathy. Nigerian youths and peaceful protesters were regarded as so-called protesters. such a demeaning way to address young minds who are deluged with so much pain and hurt. Truth be told, less was expected of President Muhammadu Buhari’s address but on the evening of the 22nd of October 2020, his address was far below less. As usual, a ‘cut and join’ prerecorded speech was served to the people who sought a leader; one they could look up to for reassurance and one that could begin the process of healing. Painfully and disrespectfully, no mention was made of the events of ‘Black Tuesday’. His prerecorded speech sounded more like a threat than comfort. Nobody has taken responsibility for the bloodbath at the Lekki Toll Gate.
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The aftermath of Buhari’s hollow speech ushered in a sense of fear, hopelessness, regret, anger, more distrust, uncertainty, and business as usual. His lack of capacity to engage the press in order to hear the thoughts of the people and speak directly to them is a shame to Nigeria and Nigerians, a nation blessed with intelligence and ingenuity. He had a small window to appeal positively to the senses of his people but he blew it. Democratically, do not expect him to be impeached as there is a blind cult following in the legislative arm of government and do not expect him to ousted as Nigeria is not ready to go back to the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s after working so hard for the democratic dispensation we currently ‘ENJOY‘
It is pertinent to note now that the buck stops on our table. While we must continue our agitations, the arrow now points to another opening, another opportunity to take back our destiny and drive the affairs of our nation, correctly. 2023 seems like a long sail, however, it is enough time for all and sundry to fix their houses, gird up their loins and be ready for what is to come.
The consciousness, unity, and organisation that was brewed in just three weeks in the month of October 2020 and bereft of ethnic and religious paranoia must be nurtured. Electoral and voter education must commence preparing those who will be of voting age for the task ahead. Every serious citizen must make deliberate efforts to obtain his or her PVs. Citizens must approach the next 27 months with the intention that their lives depended on it because their lives really do. In the years to come, anything worse than the current administration is a national disaster.
Fellow Nigerians, it is understandable to feel weary but I promise you, this is not the time to show weakness or apathy. We must continue to be part of the process. We must lay the groundworks for what is to be achieved in 2023 and beyond, today. We must stick together to ensure that the great awakening that began in October 2020 is fostered. I believe in the Nigerian project.
NIGERIA WILL PREVAIL!
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