My phone rang and I looked at the screen: my mother on a WhatsApp call. Even though I had just gotten off the phone with her; it didn’t seem strange that she was calling back almost immediately. Indeed, we had quite a lot to talk about and she was just getting back to Nigeria from visiting us.
However, the tone in her voice was frantic.
“Vio, please I want to beg you for something”.
“Please stop writing about President Buhari”.
“Please my daughter, I want you to stop writing about President Buhari. Remember in the past, all the harassments and intimidation and everything? From what I can see and hear, things are even worse than way back then. Please remember that I am back in Nigeria and I live here. Please”.
“Okay mummy, a nugo m – I have heard”.
My non-committal response seemed to have worked but as I was to discover the next morning, not for long. My mother has an old time friend, a legal practitioner. One that went with her from one police station to the other during the times the intimidation; harassment as well as phone calls threatening her with grievous bodily harm and worse if I did not stop my “nefarious” activities; were at its peak.
I never spoke about this on social media; but those who attended my younger brother’s wedding sometime in 2016 would have observed the heavy security presence around our extremely humble abode.
After several attempts, we had to start putting our feet down seriously; and insisting my mother also had a right to be protected from people attempting to harm her; just because I had extremely loud opinions.
Luckily both times her house was actually broken into, she was not home. She had gone to this same friend’s house for overnight prayers that they met once in a while to hold on behalf of their children.
So the next morning after I had that conversation with my mother and while I was still ruminating over it; I got an SMS from her friend; “Nne, please as soon as you wake up and see this; call me. It is urgent”.
I picked up my phone and placed a call to her – my mother’s friend; and she started by reminding me of all the – documented with proper police reports – attacks my mother had had in the past; and the struggles they had gone through to ensure she had some sort of rest of mind.
Furthermore, she reminded me that we were dealing with rabid supporters; people who were not concerned about their own travails under the yoke of mismanagement.
“Please Vio, stop criticizing this government, please”.
That was the simple plea that came at the end of that message.
I thought about it, and I have no other option but to comply.
The times are indeed strange even though I cannot help but add that we saw all this coming. We saw it and we warned. We wailed. And we shouted. But hey, majority have their way and the rest of us have to suck it up and deal with it.
When I saw pictures of my friend/brother Prince Deji Adeyanju being mobbed in front of the Human Rights Commission; right in their “very before” while men of the Nigerian Police Force looked on almost unconcerned; I dropped my phone and I wept.
For almost twenty minutes, Deji was at the mercy of a ruthless mob; all of whom I am willing to bet a year’s salary; do not understand a word of what was written either on the placards they carried; or the one that Deji did.
Indeed, they didn’t need to; their mission there was simple – to teach Deji a lesson. A permanent one if possible; if not, then a lesson he would forever remember for as long as he lived.
I picked up my phone again and replayed the video. As each blow that was aimed at him found a target, I flinched and I wept. Each blow could have easily been a killer. Every. Single. Blow.
Let me say this to every one especially the PDP supporters who think this is an opportunity to mock Deji; shame on you.
You are all operating from the fringes yet you have the guts to mock Deji; someone who has dared where you all are just content with being keypad warriors?
Listen, we and Deji, we tackled politics from outside the trenches; and then we entered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) proper and we also fought from within the trenches. If YOU have never been THAT involved; you may never understand that PDP is a useless political party in Nigeria and an even more useless opposition party.
And I say this as a card carrying member of that foolish contraption.
If the fire of advocacy and activism is burning within you; you will never be content with what goes on in the PDP. You will spit on their faces and soldier on alone.
Who no go, no know.
We don go, now we know.
Deji is a brave man; none of you keyboard warriors can even come close.
When he bows out of street activism like I sense he would after this; let me see which of you keyboard warriors would be brave enough to step into his shoes or even tread in his footprints.
The fight for the soul of Nigeria is a tedious uphill task; not just because of the pitfalls of partisanship and religio-ethnic bigotry; but because of you all – all of you.
You all don’t know where it is doing you from.
And THAT, will be all I have to say on this matter, going forward.