I just finished reading Femi Adeshina’s latest article on the #EndSARS protest, and the first thing that jumped out of me is the erroneous way he painted the Buhari administration as a victim of hate. Contrary to what Adeshina wants us to believe, the current nationwide unrest facing the Buhari administration is not a product of hate but a product of the administration’s ineptitude, arrogance and sycophancy.
Protests against the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS) have been on for years – as far back as 2016, at least. In response to series of these protests that were largely online until October, 2020, the Presidency dumped on the Nigerian populace: different annual press statements that claimed SARS had been ”disbanded or overhauled”. Weeks after these press statements were made, the only thing that changed about SARS was the synonyms the Nigerian government used for its subsequent press releases – on purported reforms or dissolution following persistent public outcries.
If Femi Adeshina and his ilk in the presidency had taken governance seriously by truly disbanding or reforming SARS in 2017, 2018, or even in 2019 – millions of young Nigerians would have had no reason to occupy the streets of their motherland protesting against SARS brutality in 2020. Mr. Adeshina’s attempt to obfuscate the public and absolve the presidency of the blame for the violence that occurred over the past few days – including the gruesome killing of unarmed, peaceful and patriotic young Nigerians by the Nigerian army in Lekki is the height of insensitivity.
Nigerian leaders are great drama kings and queens. They enhance a system that breeds hoodlums, thugs and touts for political reasons. Yet, they still turn around to blame peaceful protesters for the well sponsored and coordinated activities of their boys from the hood. They purposely impoverish millions of able-bodied men and women in Nigeria because their continued state of poverty, ’agberoism’ and ’hoodlumship’ are exactly what these heartless politicians need to maintain their grip on power. Think about it. If there were no ’agberos’, street urchins or hoodlums in Lagos, Abuja and other parts of the country, these greedy political elites would have had a tough time mobilizing cerebral university graduates with #1000 to disrupt peaceful protests or even stage a shameful march in their favor.
The constant availability and use of these exploited class of Nigerians for political gains explain why those at the corridors of power will want the system to remain this way. They see these ’agberos’, street urchins, and hoodlums as their ’brothers’ – not because they truly love them albeit they are mere willing tools strategic to their grip on power. If these exploited Nigerians are truly their brothers – then they will create opportunities that will educate and empower them. Shared prosperity always stimulates socio-economic equality and a more equal Nigeria will pose a threat to the greedy hegemons in power: who instead prefer a status-quo that enables them to budget more money for themselves than the entire country’s health and education sectors.
The massacre that took place at the Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th of October; is personal to me and millions of other young Nigerians. Hundreds of young Nigerians had gathered at the venue with the common goal of calling for change: police and government accountability to the people. Yet, we watched on live video, how our unarmed; peaceful brothers and sisters were sprayed with live bullets by Nigerian military officers even when these patriotic innocent young Nigerians continued to sing the country’s national anthem. The Lekki Massacre has left millions of young Nigerians heartbroken and hurt. Many of us harbour hate in our heart for the perpetrators of such a crime against humanity. Hence, if elites like Femi Adeshina want to talk about hate with a view to addressing it – let them focus more on the injustices that have been meted out at people and less on how they reacted to it. Leaders who think acquiescing to the years-long genuine demands of young people translate to being weak are not fit to talk about hate, fairness and justice.
The current attempts by those at the corridor of power to downplay and allegedly cover-up the severity of the events that took place at the Lekki Toll Gate will only make it more difficult(if not impossible) for young Nigerians to heal from the terror that was unleashed on their compatriots.
The political elites may choose to see this moment as a schadenfreude albeit a false relief from a massive youth-led movement that threatened to take away their selfish privileges funded by misappropriated public funds. In the end, no matter how long a reign of greed, inequality, corruption and ineptitude may last, the will of the people will ultimately prevail. Undoubtedly, the power of the people is stronger than the people in power!
To every young Nigerian across the world, we must remain proud of ourselves on how far we have come. In less than two weeks, we raised millions of naira, built our own ecosystem, communication channels and accounted for every kobo without collapsing on live television or having to switch off our mics. Moving forward, we must stay united, restrategize and continue to peacefully demand justice for our compatriots whose lives were cut short by instruments of the state. We must also continue to push for a system that respects the dignity of every Nigerian and ensures shared prosperity in our motherland. The Nigerian dream must be the desire and limitless possibilities to excel in our Naija cities and not the dehumanizing struggle for Canadian, European or American passports. We must equally not give room for wanton destruction of public and private properties – we hurt our communities by encouraging such. We are a chosen generation; a different bred of Nigerians and we must make that clear to all and sundry. For this generation of young Nigerians: in brotherhood, we will always stand! because without justice for the people, there can never be peace for the greedy, heartless and wicked! No Justice; No Peace!