By Dons Eze, PhD
The current situation in Nigeria is ominous, pregnant, unpredictable. Nobody knows where the country is heading to, and what it holds in stock. There is palpable fear. There is uncertainty. Everybody is disturbed. Many people are worried. We pray that the current happening will not degenerate to anarchy, to lawlessness, to a state of no government, where nobody is in charge, like in the Hobbesian state of nature, the state of war of all against all.
The issue at stake is that the “lazy” Nigerian youths have suddenly woken up from slumber and decided to take up the gauntlet, take up the challenge, to chart their own destiny, the direction of their future. It appears that the youths have now passed a vote of no confidence on the elders, who for long have monopolised economic and political power, and in the process, messed up everything. This has made the condition of the youths miserable and unbearable, and their future hopeless.
Nigerian youths have for long hinged their hopes on the elders, believing them to be genuine and honest. They have thought the elders to be truthful and sincere in their utterances, that they were working for the betterment of their present state of life, and the security of their future. They have thought that the elders were actually working for the overall interest of the people, and that they were building a prosperous and healthy nation for the good of all.
But the youths have now realized that they were mistaken, that they have been scammed, or deceived by the elders. They have realized that the elders were untruthful and unreliable, and were interested only in what would benefit them, their friends, and their acolytes. They have realized that the elders have no programme for the youths. They equally have realized that for long, they were being mocked and called “lazy”and “unserious”, who were only interested in such mundane things as BBNiger show and European Football League marches.
Now, everything has changed. The “lazy” Nigerian youths, and lovers of BBNiger show and European League marches, have become conscious of their state of being. They have become aware of the hopeless situation in which they were in, and have decided to shake off their lethargy and inaction by trooping out to the streets to protest and demand for an #EndSARS, a notorious special police team that have terrorized and decapitated many people in the country, and made life so unbearable for them.
At first, the protests were gradual and peaceful, but nevertheless steadily gaining momentum by the day, extending all over the country, and even outside Nigeria. The protesters have no identifiable keader(s) or group of leaders at the helm, steering their course of direction. The protests are unarguably a manifestation of bottled up anger and frustrations by millions of Nigerians, against the system that has neglected them for years and rendered them hopeless.
As things currently are, Nigeria is sitting on the keg of gun powder, very ready to explode. The country seems to have reached its zenith, its boiling point. The youths are unrelenting. They are pressing hard. Everybody is afraid, not knowing the direction things will go or who is going to be the next victim.
In spite of the deployment of the police who are gunning down people, and infiltration of the fifth columnists into the midsts of the protesters, (ostensibly sponsored by some government agents), who have been causing mayhem, burning down vehicles, destroying goods and property, and setting prisoners free, just to give the dog a bad name in order to hang it, the youths have refused to back down. They have refused to surrender, to capitulate. They are steadfast and resolute, which gives the impression that the end may not be in sight, so soon.
Unfortunately, the resoluteness of our “lazy” youths in continuing the protests, has met with the stubbornness of our “deaf” President who appears to be intrasigent, obstinate, or oblivious to what is happening in the country. Our President has refused to talk to the youths, and to Nigerians, in general. He does not seem to understand the message the youths are passing through their #EndSARS protests. He sees everything superfially.
The youths are not merely protesting against #EndSARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad), which the government has nicknamed SWAT (Special Weapon and Tactics Team). They are protesting against the prevailing political, economic and social injustices in the country. They are protesting against a system which has reduced them to non-being, and where .001 percent of the population has cornered all the wealths of the country. They are protesting against a system where some privileged group of people claim to only own Nigeria, while a good number of others are excluded or are made unlookers.
The #EndSARS protests is just a facade, a window-dressing. It is a symbol, signifying the rottenness of a system. In other words, what Nigerian youths are saying is that the current system in the country is no longer tenable and should quickly be overhauled, or done away with completely, and a new economic and political arrangement that will give all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe or creed, a sense of belonging, enthroned.
The #EndSARS protests does not come to many people as a surprise. It is long overdue. Nigeria has not been getting it right all these while. The system has virtually collapsed. What is currently happening in the country has since been predicted by some political analysts, in particular, by a global risk firm, Verisk Maplecroft, about three months ago, precisely on July 17, 2020.
According to the group’s published report: “The economic impact of Coronavirus is a ‘tinderbox’ that will drive civil unrest and instability in some developing countries in the second half of 2020. Highest risk countries facing a ‘perfect storm’ where protests driven by the pandemic economic fallout are likely to inflame existing grievances include Nigeria, Iran, Bangladesh, Algeria and Ethiopia”.
Now, that prediction has come to pass. Thousands of youths are out in the streets, protesting. Nigeria is facing civil unrest. But why, in the first place, should Nigeria be categorized among the developing countries where civil unrest will occur due to Coronavirus, in spite of enormous resources available in the country?
This is simply answer is bad governance. Nigeria’s political leadership has messed up the system. They have rendered the country comatose, unable to work. Things are very difficult. Many people are dying. Millions of people have been reduced to the level of destitution, not just poverty, unable to feed even once in a day.
It is therefore time for our President to talk to the protesters, and to Nigerians in general. Our President should not keep quiet anymore. He should leave his (mis)advisers and come out openly to talk to the people, and comprehensively address issues affecting the nation. He should no longer keep aloof or pretend as if nothing wrong is happening. Our President should wake up before it is too late. Things are getting out of hand. He should not allow it to degenerate further.
Nigerians are tired of a system where economic and political power is concentrated in a few hands, in .001 percent of the population. They are not happy that the prices of essential food items like rice, garri, beans, etc., have skyrocketed to high heaven. They are angry with the high cost of transportation system, occasioned by rise in the pump price of petrol.
They are not happy that education has become a luxury, a privilege, available to only those who could afford the high bill, and that millions of youths, after suffering to graduate from school, would have no job. They are not happy about the porous security situation in the country, where many people are daily being killed either by bandits or by security operatives.
There a lot more things our President should quickly address to us. We are eagerly waiting.