By Ray Morphy |
As I write this column, what readily comes to my mind is the famous quote of Napoleon who said this about China, as China then was declining and Europe was developing: “Let her sleep, for when she wakes she will shake the World?” Others have interpreted what Napoleon said thus: “When China woke, we would wish it is still asleep.”
Today Napoleon’s ‘prophesy’ has come true as China has woken and the rest is history. The aforementioned quote is akin to what is happening in Nigeria today, where the youths are awake and are baring their fangs. The youths of Nigeria had been submissive and due to that submissive docility, they have been called ‘lazy youths’, good only for political thuggery!
They were used mainly to intimidate political opponents. The ‘sleeping youths’ of Nigeria have woken, and now, the whole nation is in turmoil! The #EndSARS protests which spread across Nigeria like Harmattan fire showed that the youths will no longer be taken for granted. The brutality of the police was their rallying cry! But then, SARS was only symptomatic of the general apathy of the Nigerian system to the welfare of the citizen. Their demands were simple; Immediate release of all unjustly arrested citizens; Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and appropriate compensation for their families; In line with the New Police Act, psychological evaluation and retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded SARS officers redeployment; Increase police salary so as to reduce the propensity of the men to extortion and corruption on account of poor wages.
When these five points demand was presented by the youths as a united front, government moved to act and act fast it did. The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari quickly agreed to end SARS. The response of government was swift. According to Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina: “Following directives by President Muhammadu Buhari on dissolution of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an immediate response to yearnings of citizens! The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, convened a meeting with stakeholders, agreed to meet demands, which include halting use of force against protesters and unconditional release of unjustly arrested citizens.
“The Ministry of Police Affairs and Police Service Commission were also present at the meeting, affirmed that the five-point demands of the protesters and the ENDSARS movement were genuine concerns that will be addressed by government.”
However, the youth restiveness masquerading as ENDSARS is actually a cry for jobs, for opportunities to grow in a nation of justice and fairness. As the peaceful protests became more popular and gained traction, less disciplined youths joined in! The demonstrations soon became a looting opportunity for the hungry, the idle and the anarchists among them. Their mood took a turn for the worse when the rampaging youths found warehouses full of unshared COVID-19 palliatives!
That was when it became a fight against the state and
the political elite. In virtually every state full warehouses were being discovered, and looted wholesale. Whenever a warehouse was discovered, they would broadcast its whereabouts via social media and like locusts, they would descend and strip the warehouse bare.
Problems multiplied when they started raiding and looting private businesses as well as homes of both politicians and non-politicians alike. The worst case was in calabar where hospitals and even government offices were looted, doused in fuel and lit ablaze. It was a few days of horror. But then enough is enough. Yes, they were neglected, yes the elite took them for granted but then, enough is enough.
To achieve peace, government at all levels must acknowledge that there is indeed a huge trust deficits. Government has never matched words with action. Government must engage with those with genuine interest and understanding of social and civic dynamics.
The old system of brutality will not sway those who have shown that they no longer care if they live or die!
They have shown capacity for anarchy and they can only be weaned away from such by genuine steps or more hell will be let loose on the country. They have shown us an example in unity! While the protests
lasted there were no Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa or Fulani. Neither were they Muslims or Christians. They were all Nigerians. They did not only want an end to SARS, they also wanted best welfare package for the police.
They want good governance. They want the best for our country. They crossed the line with the looting of properties and killing of security officials. As we condemn those excesses, we must also condemn those who piled warehouses with food and allowed them to expire in a country where millions go to bed on empty stomach. This is despicable to say the least. Those who did this should be held accountable. This country can no longer tolerate this level of negligence from government officials.