Let’s look at all the #EndSARS discourses and rid ourselves of regressive ideas

by Shona Olalere

You will agree that the last weeks have been a turn of events in Nigeria and across Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. And, considering that some inconsistencies would negatively affect all efforts towards a greater Nigeria, we want to highlight a few ‘what next’ ideas:  

“Youth” is the solution.

At some point, clout chasing, number of retweets, likes, and getting a blue tick was the central focus, inspiring questions as to whether one can trust the youth and the social media influencers to lead the country. However, we will want to remember that many Nigerian politicians started a career in politics in their prime.

But, the question remains as to whether Nigeria’s problem will be solved by just having youth in government. We might want to give a definite ‘No’ – for the culture.

At the moment, the two leading presidential candidates of the US, the “model” for democracy, are in their 70s. This somewhat tells you that it is not about the age but the leaders’ innovation while governing the country.

Early warning signs

Power without control is destruction. It was expected that there was going to be a turn of events; why?

  • The protesters did not realise that the protest was an attack on the government and 40.1 percent of people in Nigeria living in poverty. Let me bring this home. These people Nigerians could not go about their day to day hustle because of the roadblocks across communities in Nigeria. Likely these groups of people are among those used to loot and hence, disrupt the peaceful protest.
  • Really, who is the man in this video who could pull all the top media platforms in an interview? Do you think it is difficult to find him? No. it is not? The media houses are the starting point for investigation. They were not all summoned by a ghost; whoever called them has more information about this man, his community, and intent, which requires investigation.

No genocide, no massacre 

Many things could make one perturbed – one of them is the nomenclature given to somethings. For many, this is not a big deal; after all, is it not just a hashtag, a retweet, or a status update? Pushing such narratives often affects investors’ confidence, perception of Nigerians in the international community, and many more.  

Even Amnesty International was not sure of what to call it, a shooting, or a massacre. In a real sense, it was #LekkiShooting and not #LekkiMassacre. Why?

  • The number of confirmed deaths caused by the shooting is only three confirmed and a suspected 20. 
  • According to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Article 2, genocide follows acts committed with intent to damage, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group. The incident in Lekki was not to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. 
  • Massacre, on the other hand, is the killing of a large number of people. While I do not want to play down the deaths, we did not record killings of a “large” number of people in Lekki.

Systemic looting 

Looting of palliatives shows how far poverty has eaten the Nigeria State. Call it stealing or theft, the point is that there are culprits that need to be held to account at all levels in the community:

  • The systematic looting of the palliative would have been impossible if there was no one in government giving the people information about the warehouses’ location.
  • Here again, this is the spillover effect of the #EndSARS protest, which made the poor unable to go about their day to day means of livelihood. Most of them unleashed their anger on the businesses that have been creating jobs for them.

Expecting more from leaders

There were a lot of expectations for the presidential address. Many were angered by President Muhammadu Buhari’s lack of communication, absence of remorse and sympathy, and absence of the word Lekki in his speech. 

  • While it is beautiful to have an expressive and inspirational leader, President Buhari is a former military leader who is not the best guy for such speeches. A leader cannot change overnight. We need to be realistic. 
  • Did he not mention Lekki? Lekki is painful, but the death recorded in Lekki does not match the number of fatalities we register daily because of the Boko Haram attacks, tanker collapse, Kaduna banditry, the list goes on. In a heterogeneous country, why should the government emphasize one over the other? Given this, it was safe for the president in his speech to mention “killings” and not Lekki.  
  • What do we want? The Cross Rivers State Governor cries a lot; he is one of the most sympathetic leaders, but still, people always complain when he shows his emotions. 

Calling on the international community

There are few, if any, in the international community, that mean well for Africa. The underdevelopment Africa faces is the international community, who uses diplomacy, institutions, and aids to rip Africa off its resources. Hence, tagging the international community in a tweet or on social media to come to our rescue is nothing but a hoax. They would be happy to share and retweet anything that makes Africa look negative quicker than sharing positive things about Africa. Given this, a new Nigeria should not be dependent on the international community for help. 


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