By Muhammad-Kabir Orire.
First, I am an agitated youth and absolutely unapologetic for it. The October 2020 Youths’ Political Awakening that came in the guise of #EndSARS is not the end. So if this government thinks it ended with October and so the Nigerian youths can go cool off at the beach, then they are profoundly mistaken.
Was it not the Pan-Africanist, Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba who said: “The day Nigeria wakes up, Africa will never be the same again.” And without mincing words, that statement is unmistakably true. It was not only Prof. Lumumba who noticed that Nigeria is sound asleep, the genuine and altruistic citizens of that splintering edifice are also in the know of the reality that the territory that was delicately handed to them by the British is in a chronic coma. Not in the ordinary sense of it as in medically induced, no, the version of the Nigerian type of coma is what can be likened to a combination of Toxic Metabolic Encephalopathy, and Persistent Vegetative State, both in one. Forgive me, I am not a medical doctor, but even orthodox medicos would agree with me that it is either a rare type of coma, or an outright impossible one. Whether rare or outright impossible, that is the type of coma Nigeria is suffering from; a state that has been thrown into an acute oblivion.
Pardon my parables: Nigeria is a huge camp of about 200 million Internally Displaced Persons as succinctly and brilliantly captured in the words of Lasisi Olagunju. That’s it. Nigeria is a huge IDP Camp and she does not know it. That is the coma I’m talking about right there.
But as irredeemable as that situation, a legion of coordinated youths of this very generation, which has hitherto erroneously mistaken to have been dead upon its arrival, has now miraculously, maybe not miraculously, but consciously embarked on a resuscitating mission to save the life of Nigeria. They had defied every pressure to suppress them, and had ejected politicians from their midst; a particular one—Sowore—comes to mind in our most recent memory. They had been attacked by thugs and hoodlums and all sorts of political hirelings. But they were undaunted. They remained resolute in their determination to end SARS, and they did, quite successfully, with their voice resonating throughout the entire globe.
For us to understand their level of doggedness, I will take some excerpts from a post titled: The Incredible Power of the Nigerian Youths, by Tunde Oduwole, I-QS, sent on the 16th Oct, 2020, as having been copied from “The Brethren Forum”.
A part reads: So I hear a young 21 year old Nigerian-American boy based in Atlanta, and in his last year in the university decided to get involved in the youths’ protest in Nigeria by raising money. He decided he could bring together 100 young Nigerian-American men and have them donate $100 to the cause. What is amazing to me is that I hear within ONE HOUR, the chap made his goal. That is $10,000 folks!!!
Another part reads: The government blocked the cash app by which the protests were being funded through contributions. The youths quickly switched to cryptocurrency (bitcoin) to sustain their protests. The bitcoin transactions are processing more than one million naira million an hour., 24/7 in small inconsequential donations. The funds are being processed and disbursed to where they are needed, in real time at the swipe of a mobile app.
It continues: The government then shut the internet down temporarily, the youths responded by converting their individual mobile phones into a private internetwork of symbiotic private VPNs- creating a huge internet bandwidth- by bundling together their data. THERE IS NO TECHNOLOGY ON EARTH THAT CAN BLOCK THAT.
Again another part reads: The youths have engaged the services of doctors, ambulances, lawyers, food vendors, auto repair shops, public transportations with the use of monies raised through digital currency and different cash apps. For those of you thinking that they would soon run out of money, and thus go back to their parents’ homes, you are thoroughly mistaken.
And yet again another part reads: Please take the agitations of the Nigerian youths very seriously. They are the digital generation. There are between 60-90 million of them and they are organised like a regulated militia.
Now this is the drill, I think the federal government got the message clearly, that the youths make up a considerable population and with the way tension was rising, they just had to deploy some strategies to pamper them. One of such strategies was the participation of state governors in the protests alongside the youths. The Yoruba proverb “e je k’ape were l’oko iyawo kaale r’ona lo”, comes to mind here. Meaning literally, let us call a lunatic the wife’s husband so that he allows us to ply the road.
It became annoying therefore to a sane mind, to see state governors being reduced to federal government’s errand boys, just to deceitfully gag or suppress the voice of Nigerian youths. It was not only hypocritical but also shameful, and a mockery of the youths’ collective sensibility. Don’t get me wrong. Ordinarily, state governors are errand boys to the citizens who voted them to power. But that is understandable, honourable, and noble. It becomes the opposite when it is being deliberately subverted. I mean, I saw one state governor riding on a motorcycle, with his security details chanting “endsars”, and I almost broke down into tears. What condescension!
When some despicable urchins—sponsored thugs and hoodlums—pounced on protesters at Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, and also in Abuja, the Defence Headquarters was quick to throw its weight behind the youths, and said the Nigerian Army would not hesitate to deal decisively with those hirelings who were going about disrupting peaceful protests. The federal government must have perceived that any such attack may degenerate into a full blown crisis that could cripple the entire nation. In short, what the federal government said through the Defence Headquarters was in a bid to pamper the youths: Let us call a lunatic the wife’s husband so that he allows us to ply the road.
In yet again another attempt to pamper the youths, the Vice President of Nigeria wrote a piece of apology: We Are Sorry. As much as I would have loved to agree that the gentleman politician had written that piece in his personal capacity, the nature of the office he is occupying is not allowing me to believe so. One could reasonably assume that he was merely mouth-piecing the federal government to appease and pamper the Nigerian youths. Again, “let us call a lunatic the wife’s husband so that he allows us to ply the road”.
When a miniature of the October Movement happened on the 5th of August, 2020, protesters of #RevolutionNow had been clamped down and rounded up by the force of Nigerian state, we saw Mr. Femi Adeshina; Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, hurriedly go on Channels Television the following day, merely to sneer and jeer at the protesters by cynically describing them as “irritating and child’s play”. Can someone ask Mr. Femi Adeshina to sincerely describe the Ubiquitous October Movement that gained global attention if he would not be economical with the truth? I hope he won’t jeer and sneer and be cynical. Can someone ask him if he would not sweat under the air-conditioner in his air-conditioned office should another imminent protest of that nature break out as we are predicting? The President of the Senate had already warned against another looming protest should the youth’s unemployment persist, and it is becoming even more feasible as we slide more and more into recession. The October Movement: Where within a week, Nigerian youths without any identifiable leader, had gathered a whooping sum to a just cause, and were transparently accounting for monies that had been expended and disbursed. Did the old generation not learn something there, or was shocked at the very least? Or is that not what the old generation has failed woefully to do? Not being able to account for every penny as if integrity is no longer a fundamental requisite of public office!
That powerful and unprecedented movement was not just about #EndSARS, or #EndSWAT, the one that was hastily concocted. That movement was about something more. This generation of youths is demanding for something more; they have simply asked the Muhammadu Buhari led administration to restructure this country once and for all, or make a concrete move to do so. Or has this government not seen that in the way southern youths demanded an end to SARS, and how their northern counterparts were all in support of it and against some other threats ravaging their own environment? Does the federal government still need to consult some oracle to be able to understand this? Or what exactly is there in that to make it difficult?
Lately, the stench of our government’s hypocrisy started stinking to the heavens, when we heard that the CBN filed for a motion ex parte to get an order in freezing the accounts of Nigerians who have been perceived to have collected and disbursed funds to the cause of #EndSARS. Does it not sound rather unbelievable and utterly disproportionate that the same government that identified with the disgruntled youths during the protests has now unleashed its Rottweiler on them? In something that looks like a frail defence, Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, the governor of Ondo State justified the action when he said in an interview that it was perceived some people were funding the protest for reasons other than #EndSARS. Can Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu tell us those reasons and which people exactly since he is at an advantage to be in possession of more information than us? Well, we already know what he is likely to say. His reply would align with the content of a counter-affidavit filed by one A.J. Apera whom I suppose is a lawyer, to oppose a motion on notice filed by Gatefield Nigeria Limited to the effect that the frozen accounts be de-frozen. The counter-affidavit reads in part: That the bank accounts frozen by this honourable court in this case are suspected to be involved in transactions bordering on terrorism financing and that the said accounts are being investigated by the Central Bank of Nigeria in that regard. Now, if that is the ground for which an order was granted for the earlier motion ex parte to freeze those accounts—the ground of suspicion and incomplete investigation even as we speak,—then I am afraid something may be fundamentally wrong. Or how exactly does anyone propose to place something on nothing? Nobody should bring Section 45(1) a&b of our “dear” country’s constitution. That provision I suppose can only stand upon the clarity of a complete, impeccable, and conclusive investigation that proves the appellants are guilty of what they are being suspected of. Otherwise, they should not suffer anything whatsoever. Does it not surprise us that our country is very swift at detecting accounts that are being used to finance terrorism? The stench of hypocrisy is just too different. It smells than “shit”! Let me not talk about the Lekki toll gate event of 20th October and its subsequent revelations as we all have seen; they are sickening and maddening and depict nothing less than the workings of a state that is not working. A state that is totally averse to the spirit of democracy and human freedom within the coffers of reasonable and acceptable laws.
Is it not painful that Nigeria is a country that is cursed with leaders who are always in the habit of not listening? Or is it not the sheer incompetence and avarice of our leaders, past and present, that has taken us down this lane of the abyss? Some of us were not surprised at the nationwide looting of warehouses and private businesses. It was an event which had already been predicted long before it happened. Or what do you make of a country where well over a 100 million people are hungry?! The youths are fighting on. They have not stopped. To think they have stopped is nothing but an illusion. They are fighting today and their mothers may have to join tomorrow-TOPLESS. I pray it does not happen so that the surveillance from heaven is not shut down temporarily for celestial bodies would not be comfortable with such sight. But I am afraid our leaders may be comfortable with it. If the demand of this organised and conscious-driven youths in their millions is not acceded to in good time, yes, that one demand, #EndBadGovernance, #EndSARS would only be a prelude to an epic. An epic that is looming. So allow me to congratulate mother Africa now that her feet are set on the path of greatness, for her never to be the same again as evident in the words of Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, “the day Nigeria wakes up, Africa will never be the same again.” Alas! Nigeria is awake from the confinement of a long suffered coma. Many thanks to the youths…