EndSARS: The Shameless Father Who Stole From His Children
In Africa, leaders care little about good governance. Politicians play politics before elections, during elections and after elections.
The vicious circle continues all year round. The people they are called to serve become their victims. The ruling elites become oppressors and the ruled become oppressed. The struggle for good governance is usually taken over by the elites, who divide up the crumbs among the agitators and instill in their leaders the upper class, and then the movement dies. How long do they think this will continue? One day the situation will definitely change.
The youth have been underestimated for so long. They have been teased for being interested in frivolity like the popular reality show Big Brother Naija, but not showing interest in development issues. Young people are involved in politics only for electoral reasons. Most ignorant people are armed with guns and end up wasting their precious lives on politicians who guard their children in developed countries.
The fact that Nigeria is a religious nation also allows politicians to plunder dry treasures without fear. Religion preaches tolerance, endurance, patience and supernatural solutions to life’s problems. Politicians inflict great suffering on people and then encourage the poor masses to turn to God for blessings. Basically, I stopped praying for Nigeria. You cannot put development funds in your pocket and expect infrastructure to appear miraculously. God is not a magician.
Just as the leaders thought everything was okay, a wave of EnSARS protests were aimed at dismantling a rogue Nigerian police unit called the Anti-Robbery Task Force, SARS. The crisis would never have happened if the leaders of the past paid attention to the rot in the police. But Nigeria lacks honesty. The ruling elites have become inspirational figures for corrupt police officers, internet crooks, unscrupulous businessmen and other aspiring thieves. You really can’t give what you don’t have.
The outrage of the youth was sparked by police brutality and extrajudicial killings in Port Harcourt and Delta State. The administration, led by President Muhammadu Bukhari, has failed to take strategic action to calm the anger of young people. What happened to the visit to the family of the murdered 20-year-old artist Daniel Chibuike, also known as Slick? What about the immediate arrest, dismissal and public shame of the agents involved? Police Inspector General Mohammed Adamu may also have been interrogated or removed from office to give people the impression that the government cares about protecting human lives, which is the government’s main goal under the social contract. The government’s calculation indicates a common inaction. It was easy; “We allow problems to evolve on social media and online media until they die a natural death.” It never happened. Some young people got tired of traditional social media conversations and took to the streets to protest. From a small number of protesters, their number increased throughout the state of Lagos and began to spread to geopolitical zones.
The protests were very organic and organized. The leadership structure was decentralized, and it was both a blessing and a curse. Fortunately, in the sense that the government’s tactics of regularly arresting and detaining the arrowhead under the pretext of a threat to national security turned out to be useless. Every protester was like a leader. The wave of protests attracted more and more young intellectuals who know their business. The days passed and the protests intensified. People spoke out against the repressive antics of the police and other security forces. The government later reacted by disbanding SARS and then promising further reforms. But it was too late!
The protesters wanted to keep fighting, they started calling for good governance. The organization of the protests was top notch. They printed banners with colorful letters, they had a security team, a medical team, a logistics team, a media team, and they researched crowdfunding to raise money. Overseas Nigerians felt the needed change was at hand. They turned a blind eye to the current economic hardships caused by the coronavirus in Europe, America and Asia and continued to fund the campaign. The international media sensed that a new Arab spring could begin fermenting again in the world’s most populous black country. International coverage revived the mood of the protesters, and infectious sentiment continued to spread faster than the coronavirus.
Public confidence in the government has always been low in Nigeria. When Bukhari came to power in 2015, there were signs of hope, but he later convinced Nigerians that he was the same as previous leaders and did not have a viable plan to take Nigeria to the next level.
The government panicked and began using dirty tactics to thwart largely peaceful protests. This is similar to the case when a father is at war with his children: any pain he causes them is automatically reflected in his own body. Initially, several fifth columnists were used to discredit the protests in the media. It never worked.
Twitter has become the driving force behind the protests. Although the mainstream media did not initially provide full coverage, they soon realized they were producing non-sponsored content. People wanted to talk about EndSARS and follow the protests led by young people called the Soro Soke generation (speaking loudly). Some pro-SARS protesters soon emerged, but their spirit reflected low rewards for their actions. They couldn’t match the energy of the crowded youth against SARS. Soon they left with their tails between their legs.
The government will start hiring thugs to attack peaceful protesters. Cars were destroyed and injuries were recorded in various places. The protesters sounded the alarm that they had been attacked, but accused them of crying a lot. In this digital age, everyone is a journalist, and social media is a shared publishing house. Young people soon uploaded videos of alleged government officials bringing thugs to protest sites to attack protesters. The video showing thugs being taken in a police car was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The government wanted the protests to become chaotic in order to set the stage for the use of maximum force to suppress the movement.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s leading bank, CBN, began freezing the bank accounts of protesters. It is a bank that has been trying to successfully control the cash flows of the Boko Haram terrorist group for over a decade. Soon, young people started trading cryptocurrencies to avoid any restrictions from the government.
Then the worst happened: On October 20, soldiers opened fire on peaceful demonstrators armed only with the flags of Nigeria and the country’s anthem. The death toll is still a mystery. The government denied authorizing the operation even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
Reportedly, 20-year-old journalist Pelumi Onifade was shot in the leg by police officers despite wearing a press vest. Attempts by his colleague to identify him as a journalist also led to his arrest. Pelumi’s body was later found in the morgue after a thorough search by his family. How did this happen? This reflects the brute force that security officials used against peaceful demonstrators and members of the public during crises. Lagos State only cares about destroyed public infrastructure, human lives are irrelevant. This is Africa!
As Nigerians battled the scars and pain of the crisis, Bukhari reached out to the nation. He acted like a wicked schoolteacher who would like to silence his students by making them cry loudly. The leadership vacuum in Nigeria has always been large, but it has expanded significantly recently and now rivals the size of the ocean.
In the latest development, some EndSARS leaders have been banned from traveling outside Nigeria. Modupe Odela, who helped free the arrested EndSARS protesters using her legal background, was not allowed to travel to the Maldives to celebrate her birthday. Nigeria’s Immigration Service has struggled to provide a decent rebuttal or explanation for the poor woman’s ban. It is said that the same fate befell other figures.
The government did not stop there, it additionally took up the regulation of the social media space in Nigeria. Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed even suggested the possibility of creating an IT center that would help shut down social media during the crisis. Do you really like? In a democratic pantry? Do you want to take away the freedom of speech from people whose future you have already taken away? Why don’t you kill them and bury them in mass graves?
On a superficial level, the government seems to have won a battle against protests that ended abruptly. People return to their lives and face the next challenge. The use of military force seems to have worked. But the government loses the most. The government’s devious tactics have further undermined people’s microscopic trust in government. What is the essence of an unreliable social contract? If Nigeria were a data collection country that regularly publishes Leader Endorsement ratings, Bukhari’s rating would be at an all-time low. But the leaders in Africa don’t care. Their followers see them as “legitimate thieves” and love this label. They never miss the opportunity to toss a few crumbs to hungry followers when the need arises. The country has become so terrible that everyone dreams of leaving the country to live better abroad.
It should be noted that news of Bukhari’s alleged death and his replacement with a fictional double body, Jubril Al Sudani, surfaced after the president’s speech. Even the best minds bought into this story because they couldn’t reach the current leader. They felt that he no longer felt their pulse. Bukhari acts like he doesn’t care. He even went so far as to warn the international community by telling them to “clarify the facts” before interfering in local affairs. This is the typical African leader who believes that he no longer needs the electorate because he is not seeking re-election. The crisis baggage of EndSARS will be carried by those with presidential ambitions in the Congress of all progressives. Asivaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is already experiencing the end of his illness. Lagos’ former golden boy Babatunde Fashola’s attempt to intervene in the crisis has made him the subject of ridicule on social media for the infamous “Camcorder Saga.”
The government’s victory has been stolen and remains largely Pyrrhic. A father who stole from his children doesn’t need to celebrate. This is a bad egg and remains a shame for the League of Fathers and society at large. In retrospect, even if it wins, the government remains the biggest loser. But since the government does not exist to pursue the common will of the people, but to pursue selfish interests, no one cares. We are moving!
Written by Osaimwen Osahon George.