THE president should be worried by what is happening – if he understands what is happening. What is blowing in the air is the spirit of a new Nigeria. No crocodile can eat it. There is no one to bribe in this. The ladies and gentlemen on the street have no leader. They have no NLC, no NULGE, no TUC to meet and buy at midnight. These questioners on the street are united by their disgust for, and outrage at the shithole their country has become. They are vehement in rejecting Nigeria’s heritage of deprivation. They reject the life of want foisted on all by a depraved entity. They see the dirt all around them and are displeased and utterly pissed. They sweep the streets and stamp Change on the tarmac of now. They know some partisans shouted Change in 2015, got into government and became worse than what they displaced. They know the people in power thought they had successfully scammed the nation. They are taking back for us our lives. My broken generation supports them.
The army has said its crocodiles would soon smile across the country. Crocodiles will leave the blood banks of Lake Chad for the cool beaches of Lagos? How is Buhari going to manage the fallout? Is it not said that he who has no pond must not breed crocodiles? Imagine floating logs in Boko Haram-infested Lake Chad becoming sharp-toothed crocodiles on peaceful streets. A proverb tells children to “cross the waters in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat you.” Buhari’s ‘lazy youths’ of Nigeria are crossing this EndSARS river as a crowd. They are likely to smile back at the crocodiles of the army. If you doubt their resolve, listen to that 21-year-old lady on YouTube and her posers and allusions: “We don’t need anyone to ask us for any leader; we don’t have any leader. We are all one. They are angry because we are coming out here as ‘lazy’ Nigerian youths to protest. It is our right to exercise now. Why are you shooting at us? We’ve not started o. We will soon tackle Buhari. He has been a bad boy….Do we look like criminals? We are here to protest and you come with guns. Who do you think you are?…”
God has carefully chosen His agents of Change. The chosen are the unusual generation with a hashtagged battle cry. I follow their verified Twitter handles and read their bio. They are young and fulfilled – hunger is not their portion. They are angry and calm; and resourceful; transparent. I see full disclosure in all they do with their struggle. They collect funds from all over the world and render accounts daily to the whole world. Many of them are girls. The ones we ignorantly said were weak and vain are in the control room of this phenomenon. They work hard and rock hard. They briskly moved from the inanities of BBNaija to the serious business of EndSARS. They are a rare breed, purpose-prepared for today’s game. Fearless, selfless, learned, brainy, passionate. At home, their proud parents fortify them with armours of love, care and prayers. One of them tweeted: “Mum made me breakfast and said go in peace and return with testimonies.”
And there have been testimonies. In Abuja, they held a Festival of Lights, a night of honour for the lost and the maimed. And there was the now viral Chijioke story. Father rummaged through stacks of corpses in search of a son in the belly of SARS. There are several Chijiokes buried in the grounds of time in Lagos, Benin, Port Harcourt. Everywhere.
These millions on the street know why they are out. They laugh at the childish pranks of elders in government and business who seek to abort their goals. They are very clear in their message. Those in government say: We have disbanded SARS, so why are they still protesting? And there was this calm lady in Lagos who answered them: “We are still out here because the Nigerian state still does not understand why we are here. It is true that this started as EndSARS, but that was just the spark. We are out here because we are tired. In fact, our tired is tired. The people we elected and gave our mandate do not care about us anymore.” Abroad, another said: “The Feminist organization tweets every day how they’ve been spending the funds they collect. That is the kind of accountability we want.” Yet another stressed: “We want leaders who care, who show love and talk to us; not like Buhari who reads from paper; who reads what is written for him by people we don’t know.”
I pity the FCT administration which banned all protests – and failed and lost its authority. Protests violated their COVID-19 protocols, it said. Those who made that order were not thinking. Didn’t they hold crowded weddings across party and enemy lines days ago? There were no COVID concerns then because it was about them and their privileges. We had an election less than two weeks ago, politicians did not talk about COVID-19. They opened schools, unlocked markets, opened NYSC camps, ordered all federal government workers back to work. They thought the Change generation did not take note of those desperate steps. It is too late for COVID protocols to displace the protests. The youths on the street have eyes. They see. They are the proverbial genie, they are out of the Nigerian bottle.
God uses unusual persons for His message. A favourite aide of Buhari was also on Twitter. While her bosses were plotting to replace SARS with SWAT, she was on Twitter articulating her own position which ironically tallied with that of the EndSARS crowd. She tweeted: “If we end SARS and create something else, it will metamorphose into another SARS, just as we have today- still with some bad eggs…” It was a timely warning which his boss and his IGP did not read. They ended SARS and pronounced something in its stead. Her boss’ government has created SWAT. SWAT is not just an acronym for Special Weapons and Tactics; it has a spelling mate, a homograph which predicts its character. Swat is an English word, an action verb. It means ‘to hit, slap, smack, smash…’ The meaning was not lost on anti-SARS agitators. They knew it was a familiar journey back to the past. They are softly killing that new outfit with another trending hashtag.
Nigeria is an endless chatter, an interminable insult – an assault. You cut one perfidious finger, it grows ten in defiance of decency. Here, the name of that presidential aide who counseled against SWAT comes in again. In her innocence, her level was changed. We will soon miss her tweets; the shit she throws at her boss’ enemies will cease. She is moving on to greater heights. She has used the past five years washing her palms, cutting her nails, cleaning the fingers. She now belongs to the elders’ table. Henceforth, she eats with elders. She will conduct all elections, national and state, from now and forever. She is cleansed of her partisanship from now on. She is for everybody. The nomination stung us. It was provocative, an insult. But do you know what they say where decisions are minted? They wink and say anyone who is aggrieved should go jump into the Lagoon; or into any of the black canals doting the polluted landscape of our courts. That is the sense in the nomination. Buhari’s wife, children and family have work to do. They should fish out and punish whoever smuggled that name into that INEC list at a time millions of youths are demanding decency from their president. The person who did this to Buhari is an enemy.
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