We all saw what happened on Tuesday and we all know how it happened. No one can tell me otherwise. The Nigerian Army killed and wounded scores of protesters at the Lekki Toll Plaza where protesters had been camped for nearly two weeks prior. This happened on The 20th of October, 2020. I am tempted to quote Franklin D. Roosevelt and say that that date will be a date that will “live in infamy” in Nigerian history but then I know (with good reasons too) that I might be speaking too soon. I will rather concern myself with a new strategy, going forward in making sure that #EndSARS decisively meets its goal in the end. Here, I will be laying out as concisely as I can my suggestions in this piece.
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First, we must recognize that this is only the beginning of the journey. We have not even scratched the surface. The people we are up against are used to getting their way and they inherited their high-handedness from those colonial masters, themselves. They do not know any other way of life than the one by which they rule (or misrule). Dismantling that system will be a marathon task and not a sprint. What this means is that we must now compartmentalize aspects of the movement, delegate duties and most importantly pace ourselves.
Furthermore, we must fully appreciate how we got here in the first place. Let us learn our own history for ourselves. There is a reason brutality is almost natural to our police. The #EndSARS protests are by no means the first of uprisings championed by young people in this country. Many who are championing this one are most likely not aware of the struggles of the past and even if they did, they construe the uprisings of the past to have been pointless as the issues have not really changed over the years. The most that many Nigerians know of their history is that “Nigeria gained independence in 1960”. That has to change if we are serious. History has answers we can all learn from, moving forward.
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Many see that things are not working but they do not necessarily know or understand why. Civic education may be a subject in our schools these days but it is necessarily not emphasized as it should be. The defects thereof are evident in some of our assumptions about government and how it works. People need to know about the process before they even begin to participate in it. Notice how the average African American is reasonably knowledgeable about the unique history of his people? We need to emulate that. Without it, we would be easily distracted.
We must stay conscious and focused. That means standing up to law enforcement especially when we see those of them perpetuating injustice against members of the public. Let us ask questions about them. There is something fundamentally wrong with a society that will rather pull out their phones for a short video of the drama while someone is being brutalized or is dying. The un-looking has to end because it is what emboldens them hence propagating more and more injustices.
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