I remember in 1996, I was awoken by a sharp, uncontrollable shout, when I opened my eyes, my mother was wailing and screaming like I had never seen before the words that kept coming from her mouth over and over was “ kedi ebe Chukwudi noo?” (where is Chukwudi?).
I did not understand what she meant or even who Chukwudi was, so I engaged my young thought to figure out why she would weep in that manner for whoever Chukwudi was. I thought of one of her customers named Chukwudi but I still couldn’t fathom why she would cry in that manner if something had happened to him. Then it hit me, my dad’s name was Chukwudi, I was just six, and I had always known my father as Daddy, but in an instant, it hit me like a brick to the skull.
My dad was dead and gone forever.
When the #EndSARS protest started amidst the reports of police brutality and oppression in Nigeria, even though I have never had a first-hand or direct experience with these Men, I could feel the anguish people felt which led to the protest.
My dad was coming back from one of his usual trips when he was shot in February 1996. And guess who carried out the evil deed?
Even though I could not take part in the protest for some compelling reasons, I made up in other capacities. I watched as events unfolded that led to the protest, I observed as the protest went on and the unexpected inhumane turn of events at the Lekki toll plaza (Lekki Massacre).
It was a rather peaceful protest completely. The organizers coordinated well; the participants followed instructions, there were disparate groups of volunteers; the cleaners who cleaned up the mess accumulated at the end of every protest day, the Humanity group that made sure everyone was well fed and taken care of, the Healthcare, the security, the logistics, the Technical group, they took care of everything in a rather non-Nigerian style. People even had a place to charge their phones with no worries or disturbances.
The outcome of the protest isn’t what people wished for. The past few days, I have seen a lot of memes and posts about people moving and marrying abroad. People are discouraged and the sequel development of looting by the Hoodlums and the discovery of hidden COVID-19 Palliatives meant for the poor masses during the Lockdown. the video of the acclaimed looting of the Jos Palliatives warehouse baffled me, I had seen nothing like that in my life; I had never imagined myself to be in such a desperate situation, regardless of the difficult situations I might face, I consider myself fortunate and perhaps one of the lucky ones.
Past few days, the situation of the country became more clear to me.
When there is blood on the street, someone has to go to jail.
Subjectively, the principal problem of the Nigerian society is “No consequence for any sins”.
In Nigeria, the more sins you commit, the safer you are. The politicians loot 36 million Naira and claims a snake swallowed it and he or she still keeps their jobs. The poor Nigerian finds out where his right (palliative) is, goes take it, and the government dispatches a battalion of soldiers to go stop the Hoodlums in their so-called looting operation.
I saw one of the Unfortunate people who hoarded the palliatives in his warehouse claim he planned to distribute the items on his birthday.
I could not believe the statement, the audacity, the effrontery or the Animal boldness he must have had to make such public statement stunned me. In a more sane society, he would have lost his job and be facing trials, but here nothing will happen to him.
Need i remind you that up till this very day, they have charged no one for what happened at the Lekki toll gate nor for the hidden Covid Palliatives. I hope Nigeria can surprise us soon by making some arrest of responsible fellows.
The enemy of every society is the poor people.
It is common knowledge that Poverty and Nigeria are like Bread and butter.
Some time ago I was driving past the Lekki axis of Lagos, at traffic point, some kids were scratching and calling from my car window. I got angry, I thought in my mind, “you will not go get a job and become useful with yourselves instead, you are here begging for alms”.
I am sure that other car users might share this feeling towards these beggars on the streets, but there was a moment during the #ENDSARS protest in which I took a step back to evaluate the situation.
Many Nigerians are suffering, people can not afford to live in good houses, they can’t go to school, they can not access good healthcare (the rich man in Nigeria can’t access good healthcare though), they can not afford decent meals and as they say, “A hungry man is an angry man”. I have the privilege of been to most states in Nigeria, and i know for sure that what a person living in a place like Lagos might call suffering, in so many other parts of the country, it is luxury (this should be a discussion for another day).
The fortunate ones do not care.
When the roads are bad, we buy SUVs and we stop complaining about the bad roads.
when there is no power supply, we get generators, private power supplies, and other relevant solutions, then we stop complaining about the problem.
when there are security problems, we move to VIP areas, install security systems, use security agents and it solves the problem.
then we forget and neglect those important people who can not afford to have these things, so at any little chance, they take advantage and attack.
Guess who they attack?
The protest has come and gone, whether we forget about it in a hurry, is up to us. Whatever we do with it will go a long way to show what we are as a nation.
I hope we learn lessons and make the adjustments and perhaps some day, there will be a shift from the normal saying “There was a country” to “This is a Nation”.
The demand is simple, the Nigerian youth just wants to be alive.
I never expected that the Nigerian youths would come together as they did, regardless of background, age, status, religion, ethnic group.
They united, and for me, that is the greatest success from the protest.
we have a long way to go to achieve the change we want.
And we’re just getting ramped up.