We never thought it would be easy with the #EndSARS movement. The layers of grime that is the state of Nigeria will not disappear with one hard scrub.
It is going to take determined and unrelenting scraping. One layer at a time.
The aftermath of the #Endsars campaign has been anti-climactic to be honest. The balloon was popped when President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation in a blurry pre-recorded broadcast. He was tone deaf to the general atmosphere in the country in some parts. In other parts, he was just plain deaf to the event that threw the protest off-kilter.
We were all stunned when our president refused to address the deliberate attack on non-violent protesters by soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
The #EndSARS protests had hit a great momentum. It was growing and extending to other states apart from Lagos and Abuja.
Was this going to be the wakeup call that our politicians needed? Was our government going to stand up; and act like our protectors for once?
Indeed, was Buhari going to read the riot act to people in law enforcement; by charging them to respect the lives of citizens?
Was Buhari going to reshuffle the security leaders in Nigeria because obviously the current mix has not helped us?
People wanted to see either;
- The tough General, or
- An empathetic leader determined to connect with the younger population and restore their faith in the system.
Nigerians saw neither.
They saw a fangless relic struggle through a speech written for him without a single inflection of compassion. It was a disappointment through and through.
It also became obvious that the belabored attempt to turn the #EndSARS protests into something intent on hurting the nation had scored major points.
The violence unhindered by security agents and touts/hoodlums taking over the street made it impossible for the protest to convene as the distinction between them had been deliberately fudged by someone.
The big question was “What Next?” The euphoria and optimistic atmosphere waned overnight in Nigeria.Where the protests had led to almost holding a whole nation to ransom and stirred up the international community; it suddenly felt as though the bottom had fallen out.
The police were back on the street; only this time round, soldiers had been added to the mix. Stories of brutality; and infringement of rights started making the rounds again.
Did #EndSARS fail?
Were the youth still going to be able to save Nigeria?
What had been achieved?
I weakly still tweeted my outrage at all that had happened since the protest started. But even that slowly halted.
Then watching the string puppets of the government begin to play the trumpet of social media regulation told me one thing clearly.
The government was fighting back.
The avalanche of criticism of our government had been a major source of embarrassment. The power of social media had them by the nuts. The events of 20.10.20 at Lekki was dressed in a subterfuge sponsored by those who had something to hide.
Snatching the #EndSARS narrative to create a different one was very hard due to social media.
Our politicians were forced to see that there was a huge disconnect between them and the citizens. They were criticized in the harshest manner possible. Their solution to everything that had happened was “Regulate social media.”
The most important thing to them was that Nigeria as they knew it was being threatened. They had strived hard to get Nigeria to this point where they give nothing/a little; and then take all they want.
How dare small children rise up in an attempt to ‘dabaru’ their hard work?
Suddenly we saw they had no explanations for hoarding COVID-19 palliatives. The most shameful attempt was saying that they had kept such things to share on their birthdays.
How will they like social media?
What is scary is that they were not affronted by the mobs they saw risk their lives for a few cartons of noodles. What our politicians should have been concerned about is actually pretty rudimentary.
- Nigeria being the headquarters of poverty.
- Was the country back to an autocratic rule as seen by the use of unnecessary force to quell protests?
- An economy that is still taking a hard hit despite the easing of Corona curbing stipulations.
- The worrisome number of unemployed.
- The choking inflation.
The list is long and endless.
Facing Nigeria and its many problems (which is actually their job) may be interpreted as party disloyalty.
Censoring the youth became top priority.
As for the #EndSARS, hashtag fatigue is setting in. Realizing that things don’t change just because we tell them repeatedly to change. If I had the audience of the youth, I would tell them about the layers of grime Nigeria is underneath.
I will tell them, clichéd though it is, but they should not give up. We should not give up.
Something did give way.
We just need to keep at it.
2023 will be different.