In the last one week or so of the rise of the #EndSARS protest across the country, a damp gleam of hope for Nigeria lit me up. I dare say same for many of our compatriots. It is just like the gleaming multicolour of an emerging rainbow. All our previous forecasts of hopelessness for the land started to collapse gradually. Picture of a Nigeria bereft of heroes or heroic deeds started to give way.
As the crowd in Abuja, Lagos, Ibadan, Port-Harcourt and other cities multiplied, with unimaginable resilience of trudging Nigerian youths putting their lives on the line in the face of merciless repressive machineries of the Nigerian state, in a moment, I was in Kenya. You would think reincarnation had flung the revolutionary leader and guerilla hero, Dedan Kimathi who led the armed military struggle against British colonial regime in Kenya called the Mau Mau war, back to Nigeria. Or that his revolutionary collaborators – Musa Mwariama, WaruhiuItote, and Muthoni Kirima had similarly reincarnated on the streets of Nigeria. Like these Nigerian youths, Kimathi was reputed for his dexterous, enormous organising capacity and unimaginable skills at manufacturing guns.
Kimathi was a youth like many of the #EndSARS advocates. Unlike Kimathi’s Mau Mau, however, the Nigerian protest has no identifiable leaders but is united by a common grief, grouse and scalding hopelessness. Born in October, 1920, Kimathi began the struggle at age 33 in 1953. In the Kenya of his time, the most resonating angst was the people’s beef with British settlers’ forceful stripping of Kikuyu lands from them.
Though Kimathi’s Mau Mau and #EndSARS struggles may differ in thematic occupations and modus operandi, their ultimate goals were targeted at rescuing their peoples. Replace the brutal British colonial policies of forceful acquisition of Kenyan Kikuyu lands with the duo of SARS police brutality and the hopelessness unleashed on the future of Nigeria by successive governments and you will rationalise the need for an uprising against the systems.
Like Kimathi’s colonial Kenya, there is hopelessness for the youth of Nigeria today. Biblical Queen Esther’s crossroads statement – if I perish, I perish – as she made to enter the presence of King Ahasuerus, the all-powerful King of Persia, who ruled from India to Ethiopia, seems to be #EndSARS’ abiding pathway.
The disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) had made life miserable for Nigerian youths. The most dreaded prototype seems to be the Awkuzu, Awka dungeon said to be Nigeria’s own Auschwitz concentration camp. In Awkuzu, SARS allegedly indiscriminately exterminated and buried suspects.
To SARS, it didn’t matter whether you had no link with scam and advance fee fraud, all you had to do was have bushy, dreadlocked hair heaps and be unlucky enough to afford an I-Phone. Many have been killed without any redemption and many more stood the chance of being killed. #EndSARS’ belief is that it would only take SARS and the Nigerian state to kill a few others during the protests, for normalcy and humanity to sprout in the genes of the Nigeria Police force.
The next level of protest, I think, should be #EndHopelessness, in which case #EndSARS should morph into seeking total redemption for the land, just like the Arab Spring uprising. It will be calamitous if government, by whatever subterfuge, succeeds in abridging this protest. Though apprehensive, this government does not seem to have learnt any lessons from this peaceful revolt. Already, a redundant, pliant and insouciant government which slept while students pined away at home for seven months now, suddenly became hyper-active in seeking an end to the ASUU strike action.
The need for a total stand-up to the runners of the Nigerian government is necessary. An urgent rescue of Nigeria is in the hands of the youth. After spending aimless years in school, the youth are flung into a Nigeria that is youth-hostile and holds no hope for their future. There are no jobs anywhere and many of their ilk wander through and get drowned in the Mediterranean in search of hope. Why then would they shy away from confronting this hopelessness once and for all and like in Animal Farm, get the drunken and unkind Mr. Jones to scamper away?
Already, #EndSARS and a few emerging contradictions of Nigeria’s pseudo-federation are beginning to reveal the incongruities of our system. They also point the way to go. As seismic as the protest has been and the positive international buy-in it is receiving, Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, (NGF) and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja last Thursday, said that SARS, the execrable police unit, has been useful to the North in the fight against insecurity. Before this, the Zamfara State governor, Bello Muhammad Matawalle,, was said to have sold N5billion gold unearthed in his state to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) while Niger Delta, which lays the Nigerian crude golden egg, cannot sell its treasure. It will seem that, like the cobra’s fetus, renowned in ancient Yoruba incantations as originator of its death, the seeds of the unitarist federalism Nigeria operates are coming out to be its pall bearer.
All these will reveal the need for #EndSARS to transform into #EndHopelessness. Let the youth, who according to Burma boy, are “the monsters you made,” bring back hope to this country and subsequently resolve the Nigerian question. For me, Marley’s highly nihilistic track, Check out the real situation, is the way to go. It succinctly explains our crossroads. “Well, it seems like, total destruction, the only solution…” he sermonized. Like the Samarian lepers, if we stay put here, hunger and hopelessness in the hands of Nigeria will kill us but if we stand up to the system now, we can only be killed by hunger and hopelessness. Let us take our option.
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has told a Federal High Court in Abuja, that the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) was sacked to solve the internal leadership crises rocking the party. The party also said that immediately the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee was put in place after the NWC’s dissolution, the crises that had characterised its affairs were laid to rest…
The Emir of Zazzau, in Kaduna State, Alhaji Shehu Idris has died in his palace at the age of 84. His son, Aminu Shehu Idris, confirmed in an interview with the Tribune Online that his late father who was appointed on 15th February, 1975 and spent 45 years in the throne died on Sunday after a protracted illness…
A Kano based industrialist, Chief Kalu Ogbonnaya, has advised the Federal Government to take necessary steps to stimulate the nation’s economy to prevent a recession post COVID-19…