20th October 2020.
It is 12:59 am, and I have over the past few days tried several times to open my laptop and put down my thoughts, but it has been overwhelming.
This is not the only night I have woken up to tears due to events sweeping across my country, Nigeria. I could have said dear nation, but I’m yet to return to that status quo.
Exactly 13 days ago, on 8th October 2020, I came on Twitter to see my timeline awash wish videos of some Nigerian youths in Ughelli, Delta state in pursuit of rogue police officers who had shot a fellow citizen and sped off in his car.
Rage and anger knew my soul, and I can tell you that like many people, this wasn’t the first time I had felt it, but amazingly, I was not the only one ready to ensure it would be the last.
But, before I proceed, let me tell you something. You see police brutality in Nigeria is a thing for the average Nigerian. It has become a norm, long added to our long list of morning prayers points of what should not kill you when you go out about your legitimate business.
“I go waste you, you go collect now, and nothing go happen”
One of such personal encounter for me was in 2018, the mental health and PTSD associated with that incident has never left me because of the peculiarities of it. On that fateful day, if anything had gone wrong, my mom, friends and no one, I mean no one would have had an inkling of what happened to me. I would have vanished off the face of the earth, and the Nigerian Police officers who killed me would have moved on to their next victim without trace or consequence.
I went around Mile 2 expressway in Lagos to purchase a double-seater sofa. I was dropped by a commercial okada rider at a bus stop about 8 minutes walk, not up to 3 mins away from the bus stop, a Suzuki Bus speedily came to a halt. Two out of four fierce-looking men jumped down and commanded me to hop-on in the bus while asking several questions in quick succession.
Confused and not knowing which question to answer, I said my name, occupation and organisation I work for then proceeded to ask for permission to show them an ID. While all this was going on, they had slapped, pushed and raised a gun to hit me.
Do you know what most is terrifying?
Seeing bystanders who don’t know you, aren’t sure if you are a criminal or not. They from their facial expression wish to help but the fear for their own lives and the usual threat by men of the Nigerian Policemen “I go waste you, you go collect now, and nothing go happen” (I’ll shoot and kill you, justice won’t be done) keeps them away. You can see the pity on their faces both those close-by or afar, hence I won’t blame anyone for not interfering or coming to my aid.
The officer who had been quiet all through this and hearing my request, asked them to stop. I presented an ID, and then he went ahead to accuse me of defrauding two different organisation because the second ID was that of my HMO service provider. This went on for a while; they were insistent on carting me away, but thankfully they flung by ID’s and drove away.
End SARS: An Awakening For a New Nigeria Beyond Social Media
If you ask any sincere Nigerian, we have been docile for too long. We have long fought each other across different issues like social, religious, political and ethnic.
The end SARS peaceful protests is a fight to finish. One of the things I’m thankful for was the youths who chased and recorded the police brutality in Ughelli, Delta State, this has set off a chain reaction and new awakening among Nigerians youths on and off social media.
One of my favourite things to do since the awakening and series of peaceful protests is being out and listening to the average Nigerian; educated and uneducated make intelligent arguments about the #EndSARs peaceful protests campaigns are legitimate and why it is necessary.
Different governments, figureheads, political party’s and “self-professed fake democrats” have promised Nigerians Nirvana, but we have suddenly realised we are the change we seek.
There’s real hope out there, online and offline. We are no longer a few lone voices, but a collective and I refuse to agree there are no leaders because we are all the leaders we need. Everything we’ve faced and been through in the hands of wicked politicians has prepared us for this moment.
The level of mobilisation I have witnessed online and offline is something to be proud, and I always will. Allow me to gush about the accountability of different individuals and groups, worthy of mention is the Feminist Coalition.
How about the level of initiatives taken by creatives, the protest ground volunteers and their level of organisation. I can go on, but this shows that we are not being governed by the best of us. We need to change this come 2023 via voter education, let’s start now.
It’s no longer just social media, and it’s no longer only on the internet, or just Twitter like many would say, there’s a real unity in voice and purpose that we speak. It is typified in the collectively agreed 5 for 5 demands which the government at state and federal level are still going in circles rather than showing full commitment beyond words to meet.
Nigerians are used to words without action, action without results, and we will no longer be blinded by these antics of our politicians who are in office for their selfish interests. The issues that concern the masses, often if not always, is treated with less importance, we are tired and would no longer condone this.
You may ask why #EndSARS or #EndPoliceBrutality because it is the humane and right thing to do, we have lost too many young Nigerians not to fix this. For me, it also sets the tone for demanding justice for several other issues witnessed in our society.
Fix the police system, end sars, you fix all sorts of problems quickly, and this may seem the reason why there’s so many within the political class trying to sabotage our demands and peaceful protests.
We outnumber them, we are smarter, and they will not succeed. A giant in us is awake, and speak up, out loud may we never be asleep again! Soro Soke!!! #EndSARS