How have thou fallen from your high pedestal, O Nigeria, giant of Africa! How much your reputation has been dragged through the mud; a place where corruption, impunity, and penury thrive like wildfire!
The current state of affairs in Nigeria leaves so much to be desired, much of which has degenerated aggressively over the years till date; Nigeria with all its prospects and vast potential from agriculture to crude oil, to gas, and other mineral resources, even to its massive human capital (chiefly the youth; 43.69 % of Nigeria’s Populace according to statista.com), etc. have all been sorely mismanaged, underutilized, and maliciously exploited; largely due to bad governance by some elects that have usurped their offices to enslave their fellow citizens and hold Nigeria sway!
The system has been terribly rigged and distorted to the agonizing detriment of its citizens and to this effect Nigerians have been grossly short-changed, with the ever-climbing morbidity and mortality rates, owing to the continued decadence in the economy, from food and housing, to health and insurance, even up to safety and security; all these departments have their woe stories and have repeatedly failed the populace over and over again. As a matter of fact it has left a bitter taste in the mouth and an indelible print in our minds!
Many families scattered around the country are living in abject poverty and squalor; an unbelievable number of people are homeless and jobless, while a great number are plagued with trauma and pains from the death of their loved ones owing to systemic failure and betrayal; speaking of the millions that have died as a result of innumerable gory road accidents due to bad roads, and the deficiency in monitoring, enforcement and accountability of the roadworthiness of vehicles, Oil tankers, and containers.
How about the hundreds of thousands that have died over the years due to the under-equipped health sector and its unaffordable bills, even to the alarming death toll due to the let-down in the security department of the nation which has allowed banditry, terrorism, extrajudicial killings to persist; talk of the unthinkable and hideous ploy by the Nigerian government on the 20th of October, to corrupt the remarkable peaceful movement of the Nigeria Youths during the ENDSARS campaign, when Army Corps who were supposed to protect the people were unleashed to massacre faithful citizens.
That was the height of heartlessness, social injustice, and its accompanied impunity in Nigeria, and to cap it, the fatality rates owing to the continued decadence across Nigeria has been cruelly under-reported, therefore concealing and undermining the reality and the gravity of the challenge that is upon us! Yet there is one ray of hope: Nigeria still breathes, and so long she breathes, Nigerians must exercise faith that she will live again!
I imagine it all started on 1st of October, Nigeria had just clocked 60 years since her independence, and on that faithful day, there was not much to write home about, rather it was a day that many had ample time to recall their woes, coupled with the opportunity to act progressively, seeing that the country was just coming out of lockdown due to the gradual recovery from the global pandemic (COVID-19), and a majority of the populace, speaking of the Nigerians youths who were licking their wounds at the time, had a lot of grievances and spare time to do something constructive about their plights, since the Union representing Academic Staff of Public Universities, ASSU, were still on strike.
Fate was on their side when on October 3, the video of a young man who was allegedly shot and killed by SARS officers on the streets of Ughelli, Delta State in Southern Nigeria, began to circulate on social media, which further stoked the prevailing wave of grievances, intensified by other closely related events that were exhumed to further expose the depravity, and almost unforgivable crimes of the department of the Nigerian Police Force called SARS, Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
The Nationwide protest against Police brutality began compellingly on October 8, though hash tag #endSARS first debuted in 2017, when a number of notable incidents of police violence sparked conversations on Twitter, in Nigeria’s mainstream press and in the public sphere. Amnesty International reported at least alleged 82 cases of torture, ill- treatment and extrajudicial killings between January 2017 and May 2020.
The Nation at large displayed unbelievable courage and gallantry in their pursuits for economic reforms as an underplay of the #endSARS campaign, from the peaceful marches, to resource generation and its adequate utilization, and then to the extraordinary solidarity generated, likewise demonstrated through their organisation, comportment and resoluteness on the protest grounds, in the face of outrageous
In other reports at least 25,794 people have been allegedly killed in various attacks during the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari between May 2015 and May 2019, a report indicates, and the death toll just keeps climbing till date, and let’s not forget that the false disclosures and gross underreporting is giving a false scope of the problem
For the time being, the #endSARS activists will channel their efforts in realizing some of their five core demands, also take succor in that, as they live to pull their weight in the nearest future, their voices have been heard globally, and subsequent social campaigns can be fostered leveraging on revised systems of approach and talking points from the potency of the already completed one, which by far trumps any other campaign that has been conducted in the history of the country; more so Nigerians are increasingly aware that they can demand more accountability and basic rights from their government, which will in turn keep the governmental officials on the edge of their seats, honouring their offices and representing the people better!
Tosin Adegoke writes from Lagos