“As it currently stands, Nigeria will not and cannot move forward by choosing to ignore the past. How we get to where we are is a much required consideration in salvaging Nigeria. Our past, not limited to the events of the last weeks, must be reviewed to access the full knowledge of how we got to this point of national disunity and corruption. Roles of individuals and institutions must be appraised and their contributions to the decimation of Nigeria established. We cannot expect the present generation to choose the path of treating the country well when they are aware of the treatment it got from those before them without consequences. It is in this country that Dele Giwa was assassinated and nothing came out of it; Bola Ige, a former Attorney-General of the Federation was murder in cold blood and the government preferred to muscle up the trial to an inconclusive end; and looters and haters of the nation walk freely, flaunting and boasting of their wealth gotten at the expense of nation. If we allowed the event of the last few weeks, the ill-fated protest, the claims of massacre in Lekki as well as attacks on both private and public properties to go uninvestigated like others, it would then become that we have license the continuous abuse of our nation and systems without consequences. All the security personnel who were involved in the killing(if any) , even if it is only one Nigerian that died must be identified and brought to justice ; the same way, all individuals, who wilfully disseminated fake news that led to the destructions that followed across the country, must be brought to justice and the law accordingly, including all the institutions and groups within the country that were largely responsible for instigating the deadly aftermath of the protest – they must be fished out and handed down with appropriate sanctions. The Panel of Inquiries across the states owe it to the nation and its citizens to heal the wounds that have been created by the long time neglect of rights in the country. This could and should be a fresh starting point for us. The investigations must not be left all out to the state governments; the federal government must equally set up a national panel of enquiry, in the form of the Oputa Panel, into abuses against Nigeria, the citizens and institutions, not just by the police or any of its units but by all Nigerians”*
*TAKES FROM THE SPORADIC ENDSARS REMONSTRATION*
The last few weeks have presented us with yet lessons after lessons and some mind bothering revelations that cannot be ignored if we want to overcome our present challenges as a nation and engage in positive motion towards the changes we crave for and the nation we want to be. The measure of the sincerity we present as we engage in unravelling the truth of the events of the last days that almost soaked the nation in blood, will not only determine the peace we will see going forward but also determine the measure of peace we are capable of enjoying as a nation and as a people.
This week, in a marked departure from my usual straight talk on issues, I will talk in bits and pieces, touching and ruminating on pertinent problem-spaces that require decisive civic and policy action if we are serious about redeeming Nigeria.
It would be wrong for any individual or group to fault the just demands made by the protesters in the protest-turned-bloody outings we witnessed in the country in the last two weeks. The decades of decaying structures and systems have for long warrant far much more development than the government have been able to offer; initially as a result of the competition for the available national resources among many notable factors, of which corruption is chief, as was the case in past administrations or maybe because of dearth of resources as is the case with the current Administration. The demands are genuine and sacrosanct to the total development of the nation; and it becomes the duty of all, across board, the government and the governed, to see to the emergence of a new era that sees more of productive government and citizens’ actions that meet popular demands.
Let us face it: it so becomes that the protests and the violence that trailed its aftermath present both advantages and – severe – disadvantages for the country. On one hand, we see the prospect of the birth of a new Nigeria with reborn youth awareness and readiness to contribute to the state development processes that have been long overdue as a necessary ingredient for forward movement of the country. On the other hand, we exposed the nation’s vulnerability to attacks including arson, vandalism and hoodlumism. Not limited to Nigeria, opportunity to unleash terror on the society in the form of looting and destruction of properties is always readily taken and utilised by anti-social in the society. And beyond looting and the destruction in the present, the seed of continuous operation is always equally sown in the minds of these anti-social elements, so much that increased criminal activities becomes the norm after such an incident, if it does not graduate out of hand to national unrest and civil war.
The ease with which we gesticulate and discuss the prospect of war in the last few weeks and the actions and reactions we presented over the period that are known precursors to uprisings have beyond all doubts show the wishes and capability of the citizens of Nigeria and forces within the country and outside the country to force the country into drifting to a full blown war. We are careless about the consequences of war; and the implications of the destructive capacities of the same over a longer period on the nation and its citizens without guarantees of changes or similitude of changes, but rather a deteriorated nation and people as have been the cases in Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and other nations that had assumed war is a viable path to desired changes. We need to take a tour of history and relive how the Syrian revolution started and how and where it ended. The group of ‘we-want-changes-by’ force;’ the hidden forces that are spurring them on, the innocent citizens who tagged along and the only nation they used to call home: where are they today? All that remains of the nation and its people are ruins and regrets.
A tweeter user, Sinmioluwa Babatunde Israel tweeted on the 12th October, 2020 “Pls let this be WAR. We have 2 just sacrifices. D best countries today also have sacrificed lives and properties in the past. I am coming out with excavators and bulldozers tomorrow. Who is in? We are destroying all d police stations.” That is but a sample of the war-calling rhetoric that pervaded the country. Individuals like Femi Fani-Kayode were busy Inciting the youth. On one of his rhetoric, on the 13th October, he told the youth and Nigerians that the next line of action is to march on the president; “Buhari must resign.” DJ Switch, another social media influencer had a readymade graphics and video of an alleged massacre that did not happen as it remains unproven. Amnesty International became a biased institution that took its input from masked politicians and interested parties in disputes without any layer of verification. NGOs that are supposed to be the carriers of authentic information across to international organisations became more interested in the sensation of the news they carry rather than its authenticity or they intentionally pass on information that discredit the nation and its leaders at the behest of their paymasters .
The reason why we have been able to escape an escalation into war after the protest; the skewed and deliberate attacks on selected individuals and sections of the country, which could have erupted a volatile response that could have drifted us into a civil war, was simply a divine benevolence and matured dispositions of the individual victims and sections of the country, that appeared to have allowed peace to reign by their decisions to swallow their losses with equanimity as a consequence of the various attacks.
There is therefore a need for sectional and political leaders to reign in their people and supporters from future and continuous propagation of such actions as was witnessed after a few days of the ill-fated peaceful protest. Turning the nation upside down may provide tentative popularity for them, but it would surely, eventually leave them with no nation to exercise such popularity.
It remains sacrosanct that the poll remains the only acceptable avenue for assuming the influence, authority and legitimacy they are striving to gain through the back door.
For a long time now, but becoming more glaring with the events of the last few weeks, social media has become an albatross to the nation’s unity and security and will most likely become our undoing as a nation and a people if we do not wake up to the realities of the destructive trend of the current utilisation of the same in the country and the cracks and inciting wounds it has created deep into the fabric of the national cohesion of Nigeria.
Except we consciously marshal a concrete control over social media and halt the abuses of the same in the interest of national peace and security, it would be only a matter of time before we finally explode beyond redemption. It is an eye opener what fake and violence-inciting information and graphics, unscrupulous individuals and groups intentionally use the platform to deliberately disseminate, and could do to the nation. It is beyond rational explanations how Nigerians would find it casually easy to burn down their own nation with deliberate fake information over the media. While we need to more than ever table the need to exert maximum control on the use of social media in the country, we must as well recognise the ignoble roles “trusted NGOs” and “supposed statesmen,” twitter, Facebook, Nairaland as well as the Amnesty International have recurrently played in the act of instigating and disseminating fake news to the detriment of Nigeria and act appropriately as well.
As it currently stands, Nigeria will not and cannot move forward by choosing to ignore the past. How we get to where we are is a much required consideration in salvaging Nigeria. Our past, not limited to the events of the last weeks, must be reviewed to access the full knowledge of how we got to this point of national disunity and corruption. Roles of individuals and institutions must be appraised and their contributions to the decimation of Nigeria established. We cannot expect the present generation to choose the path of treating the country well when they are aware of the treatment it got from those before them without consequences. It is in this country that Dele Giwa was assassinated and nothing came out of it; Bola Ige, a former Attorney-General of the Federation was murder in cold blood and the government preferred to muscle up the trial to an inconclusive end; and looters and haters of the nation walk freely, flaunting and boasting of their wealth gotten at the expense of nation. If we allowed the event of the last few weeks, the ill-fated protest, the claims of massacre in Lekki as well as attacks on both private and public properties to go uninvestigated like others, it would then become that we have license the continuous abuse of our nation and systems without consequences. All the security personnel who were involved in the killing(if any) , even if it is only one Nigerian that died must be identified and brought to justice ; the same way, all individuals, who wilfully disseminated fake news that led to the destructions that followed across the country, must be brought to justice and the law accordingly, including all the institutions and groups within the country that were largely responsible for instigating the deadly aftermath of the protest – they must be fished out and handed down with appropriate sanctions. The Panel of Inquiries across the states owe it to the nation and its citizens to heal the wounds that have been created by the long time neglect of rights in the country. This could and should be a fresh starting point for us. The investigations must not be left all out to the state governments; the federal government must equally set up a national panel of enquiry, in the form of the Oputa Panel, into abuses against Nigeria, the citizens and institutions, not just by the police or any of its units but by all Nigerians.
If we get past this space in the history of Nigeria without identifying the elements and institutions in the country that need to be blacklisted in the reckoning of Nigeria for a genuine progress, then it would be established that we are altogether hypocrites and careless about what becomes of the lots of the nation. The nation is soaked in hypocrisy, in blood and graft. The common man has been relegated without space and hope in the permutation of events in the country. While few are getting richer, the bulk of the population are slipping further into perpetual poverty; the youth are becoming more irrelevant, jobless, idled, and wasted, because the system and the usurper population have been careless about the fortune of the citizens over the years. While the few who are responsible for the many woes of the majority have commandeered both the political and economic power of the country to themselves, their cronies and families, they derive certain satisfaction in the poverty of the many and the cries that pervades the land of Nigeria.
They are indeed schadenfreuders! It is time to make people answer to the crimes they have committed against Nigeria. We cannot go forward condoning crimes and shielding criminals. We cannot continue to watch as the perpetrators of grafts and infamous looters of our commonwealth walk free and continue to suppress their victims. There must be a turning point and this should be it for Nigerians and Nigeria. If the likes of DJ Switch, Reno Omokiri, Femi Fani-Kayode, Omoyele Sowore are not summoned to the Nigerian public for the roles they have played in the violence that engulfed the country recently, and are allowed to roam the street of Nigeria freely afterward, then, it is over for us as a nation!
The protest was an eye opener exposing the workings of the minds of a huge number of Nigerians and more or less, the reason we keep perambulating about the same position over the decades. Nigeria presents the irony of a people complaining about the forces they worship. While we were busy attacking the Tinubus, the Atikus and other recognised treasury looters and unrepentant corrupt elements in the country have become our messiah; becoming the voices we respect and the ones that tell us what direction to follow. Atiku is the same man who went through the 2019 electoral campaign with the weight of unanswered questions about his history of corruption; with allegation from Olusegun Obasanjo hangs on his neck and other myriads of allegations and evidence of graft and gross abuse of national resources laid against him, he had not a single defense because, perhaps the allegations were all true. Instead of responding accordingly, his foot soldiers are busy spreading the rhetoric that his opponent is also corrupt. Having political biases is permissible but supporting individuals with a track record of abuse and misconduct against the country must not be sustained if we are to move forward. We cannot be the same people who had witnessed the revelation of the grand corruption in the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan; well aware of the Diezani revelation, the Dasukigate, the drama of loot recoveries from appointees of the administration, the billions recovered from the former First Lady, among the long list of disservice the administration has done to the country; yet, they still prefer to sing their praises over a government that is touching the bottom to salvage the country, setting a new foundation, and creating notable indices to move the country forward.
We are at a junction where we must reset Nigeria’s priorities. Do we want leaders who are sincere and with the urge to revamp the nation at an appropriate pace or not? Or do we want leaders who see the nation as opportunities to become rich and powerful? Do we want to continue the trend that makes individuals become richer than the country because they are in government, while our youth are becoming more jobless and parents becoming more sober and despondent because they could not provide for their children?
Do we prefer a Nigeria where the likes of Dasuki shares our commonwealth when we cry of hunger and joblessness; where Bode George collects N100 million share for doing nothing that benefits the country; where Chief Dokpesi of AIT collects N2.1 billion for publicity of private interest; where Atahiru Bafarawa collects N4.6 billion and N100 million for spiritual purposes; where Iyorcha Ayu collected N350 million for consultation; where Obaigbena of Thisday newspaper collects N650 million; where Femi Fani-Kayode takes N740 million; where Olisa Metuh collects N400 million; where Aziboala, former president Goodluck Jonathan’s cousin collects N6 billion; where Nenadi Usman collects N3.5 billion; where Fayose collect N3 billion; where Olu Falae collect N100 million; where Tony Anenih collected N400 million; where Oritsejafor collects $35million; and where Bode George and Dabo collect N100 billion; all from the money meant for the country’s war against insurgency which was severe against the Nigeria. The period in history when Patience Jonathan claimed the $31m traced to dubious companies were rightfully hers and sued the Nigerian state to recover them. Are these not the people we are praising now? Is this the nation we want?
This is the time to begin appreciating good leaders and good works. When we see genuine attempts to revive the nation, we should recognise and appreciate such. Yes, it is the responsibility of our leaders to provide infrastructure and services that make life easy for the citizens but the realities of the past decades have taught us some bitter lessons; we have had in succession leaders who do not care what becomes of us while they abuse our trusts and hurt our hopes.
Today, if we see development in road construction, bridge buildings, rail constructions, in a manner that we have not seen for a long period as Nigerians, it is only appropriate that we praise the efforts behind them. If suddenly, out of the blue, fuel scarcity disappears from our system and regular payment of salaries becomes a norm in our system, we should give kudos to whom it is worth. When we see 1000 farmers from each of the 774 LGAs in the country getting empowered under the Youth Entrepreneurship Support Programme, over 500,000 youths benefiting from the Graduate Internship Scheme with short-term employment, over 100,000 youths across the country benefiting from mobile service repair training with financial and technical assistance, over two million farmers and traders who are mostly youths directly empowered under the Farmermoni, Tradermomni and Marketmoni schemes, 500,000 youths engaged in N-POWER with another 400,000 on the way, general MSMEs grants to provide N50,000 to 100,000 MSMEs, formalisation support to register 250,000 new businesses with CAC at no cost, one-off payment of N33,000 for 333,000 self-employed individuals, MSME survival fund for as many as 500,000 beneficiaries, among an unending list of rolled out poverty alleviating programs, we ought to at least recognise them.
If despite all these undeniable realities of government presence, we remain blinded by affiliation biases or are allowed to be pushed to discredit a government that is doing its best to set a new record for the country, we must all know that someday, posterity will judge us all.
What Nigeria needs now is not the conventional politicking, but a new dimension of political awareness and participation; a new disposition of followership that recognises what is at stake and what part to play to birth the new Nigeria of our dreams. We should see the end of divisive politicking and the end of money politicking. To restore the unity of Nigeria and to consolidate the development that has begun and ongoing, we must all agree that we need to see beyond the rhetoric of financial gains and support from unrepentant political whoremongers who are hell bent on gaining from at the expense of Nigerian.
The protest was indeed an eye opener. But are we ready to take the lessons?
*God Bless The Federal Republic Of Nigeria!*