Gosh, we have been cowed properly. Pun unintended but a surprising fit. Doesn’t it feel that way, fellow Nigerians, especially with the way things are in Nigeria?
Where do I start from? I mean talking about the things we need to protest about.
Top on the list would be the insecurity. Anything and everything is possible in this wild wild West African State. Starting from the refusal of Boko Haram to fizzle away, to the skirmishes in the Middle Belt that is playing mole in the hole; popping up in different states. Currently Kaduna State is the battleground of the insecurity situation in Nigeria.
It hit close to home a while back when a colleague went through the most horrendous week of her life in the hands of kidnappers. She is over 50 but she was beaten mercilessly; made to sleep in the rain on the floor and was forced to walk long distances every single day.
And she is the lucky one.
A week after she was released, a medical doctor was killed after millions was paid in ransom.
But let us pretend.
Let us pretend that since the insecurity has not reached every door that some of us are insulated from it.
However, we cannot pretend about what the economy is like.
In the last five years, we have seen a paint of Garri rise from N300 to N1,000 in Nigeria. We have seen a bag of rice go from N7,000 to N23,000. PMS went from N87 to about N150. We are still reverberating with shock on the recent increment in electricity tariff.
There is no one in Nigeria that has not felt the brunt of the economy; even before COVID19 decided to make an entrance. No one can deny that things in this country are certainly in dire straits.
Remember the SAVE NIGERIA GROUP? Remember how they led this country in the mother of all protests back in January 2012 when the government attempted to remove fuel subsidy.
We had never seen anything of the likes in recent history. The country was shut down.
The Occupy Nigeria movement swept the nation in one giant swoop. With hindsight, that was the first move by what would later on be APC and their broom logo. Patrick Obahiagbon, the leadership and members of the SNG led the stage for a protest that this country may never see again.
Interestingly, Nigeria is so much worse than it used to be. But no one seems to be interested in challenging the present government.
When the fuel subsidy was lifted in 2016, the ripple effect was smaller than a twig landing on a puddle. People just shrugged and even gave the government the benefit of doubt. The belief was that something was good was going to come out of the corruption conduit that was the subsidy.
In fact, there were predictions about how this was going to force down the price of PMS in Nigeria. Now, we know better. What goes up aims even higher.
A country struggling out of a lockdown that has taken almost half the year is greeted with making bricks without straw; harsher conditions. The electricity tariff increase and the fuel price hike to be precise.
Nigeria needs saving more than ever.
Suddenly, crickets everywhere. Where is Pastor Tunde Bakare these days? Restricting himself to his local pulpit? Haba! Where is Asiwaju Bola Tinubu? Actively saying that Nigeria is on a progressive path. Where is Prof Wole Soyinka? Forgive me for mentioning his name. I am told “Haba, why are we asking an octogenarian to lead a protest? “I guess it was easier for a septuagenarian.
Nigerians are groaning and shifting the new load on their backs. Beasts of burden with 60 years of experience.
“Nigerians are resilient” said one unfortunate fellow on the radio. I could hear the saliva spewing as he reiterated this. This is probably what our leaders say as they add another load on our backs. Person wey dey used to carrying 100kg fit carry 120kg.
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“Nigerians are cowards.” Another person said angrily. Waiting for masses with no faces only numbers trained on them with red dots from security agents to come out and protest.
Who will lead Nigerians forward?
No one is willing. Where is SNG? Why won’t they Occupy Aso Rock? The people are suffering. The people are dying. In fact, the people are struggling. So why won’t they come out on the streets? Why won’t those with the influence help them and organize a protest like they did when Goodluck Jonathan was in power?
We all know why.
It was easy to protest when it was GEJ. This administration has demonstrated clearly that it will not tolerate a protest. Remember Nnamdi Kanu’s incarceration? Yes, he had been talking tough and wielding influence. But he had not really done anything except talk.
Remember when Tuface gathered the storm for a protest? He rescinded overnight in such a bizarre manner that stirred up a lot of speculation.
Remember Omoyele Sowore and the attempt at a revolution.
In all these situations, the message was not minced. Who wants endless incarceration with court proceedings spanning over a decade? Who wants to give up their freedom? It may seem cowardly. But the thankless job of leading this nation in protest of all that is not right is not one that anyone seems to want.