There are many things happening lately that we aren’t used to; we have a protest that came with a hashtag – #EndSARS which birthed more hashtags.
This #EndSARS protest is one that doesn’t seem to have an arrow head. There isn’t one person coordinating the nationwide protests except for posts on social media; as well as rallying points for youth to gather. There are factions in Lekki and scattered factions on the mainland and several other states in Nigeria.
We have a #EndSARS protest that transcends boundaries and regions. They raised funds, they took care of the sick, they hired security outfits for themselves…against the police. Funny! They fed those who showed up and they provided cover from the elements…unprecedented in the history of protests!
We have a #EndSARS protest that even the police, who usually are deployed by government to “scatter” such protests are finally realizing they are beneficiaries of their own brutality.
We have a protests that even hoodlums were admiring from afar…until now.
Because there is no central coordination, so hoodlums are making it their own agenda!
My partner and I decided to monitor the pulse of things on Monday and found ourselves stranded in the middle of Ipodo! How did we get there?
The road leading to Ikeja was sealed off by protesters; cars began to turn off on Mobolaji Bank Anthony road; we did same and headed into GRA…we meandered and found ourselves in Ipodo.
Those who know Ipodo know very few good things happen at Ipodo; hoodlums mingling among the youths were banging on our car. They insisted we got down because there were letting no cars pass. Where were the polite youth we saw in videos at Lekki?
There were kids in school buses, individuals who needed to reach the hospital. All of them couldn’t move because the roads in and around Ikeja were all blocked!
We got down to a restive teeming crowd of youth who puffed out thick smoke from the hemp they were smoking. They were a totally different crowd of people from those we had seen online at Lekki; as well as on Twitter and Instagram. There was clearly no coordination; same with youths who barricaded Allen, and also parts of Agidingbi!
What of those who allegedly released prisoners from jail in Edo state?
Where are the calm #EndSARS protesters in Adekunle police station in Lagos? Protesters were caught on camera stoning police men on the road as well as attempting to raze the police station.
What this shows us is that the momentum is dropping and hoodlums who had; hitherto, been waiting on the sides, have joined the rudderless protest ship!
This brings me to the question. What do the youth really want?
I thought the 5 for 5 was the thing they wanted; there seems to be no leader to speak with one one voice. The lack of one voice is becoming a chink in their armour.
With no seeming leader, how do you negotiate?
How do you ensure the reforms the government promised are implemented?
How do you follow up and continue to rally the rest of the youth to move in a particular direction?
Two weeks of the movement has been good. Is it sustainable?
There is a present fear that in the coming days and not weeks, that the protest will be hijacked by hoodlums. I caught a whiff of this at Ipodo. Hoodlums had mixed with genuine youth seeking change; the fear that they would soon tire of waiting and also go for innocent citizens is real.
Already, the Lagos State Government has reacted by declaring a 24-hour curfew in the state. How did a peaceful protest come to this?