By Reginald Tobin
When I see other nations doing the needful to ensure a turn around in their countries, I always ask myself; when will this same act replicate in Nigeria, my own country? I have always imagined a day when this generation of Nigerians will rise up against bad leadership and injustice.
As a young Nigerian, within my capacity i have spoken against bad governance and other ill happenings in the country. I have also decried our unseriousness in calling out the government when necessary.
As well, I have queried a few who think that a united agitation will yield no result because they feel the people in power have the final say while ordinary Nigerians can do nothing.
Well, the #EndSARS protest which has been ongoing for some days now has undoubtedly proven otherwise and has also given me a reason to be proud this generation (my generation). For once, I have seen my generation do what others could not do. I have also seen things change gradually like it happened in other countries.
But, how did this happen? Some weeks ago, on social media, we raised an uproar against the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad (FSARS) an erstwhile unit of the Nigeria Police Force.
At first, the government believed it was only about FSARS and once they speak on reforming the unit as usual, we will go back to sleep.
But, Little did the government realise that this time around, things have changed as we have woken up from our deep slumber to demand what is more than just ending SARS. If you ask me, I will say SARS only brought out the beast in us, and gave us a platform to kick against other irregularities going on within the country.
Well, to follow up the agitation, we took to the streets on protest, Protest which took place in some parts of the country.
Seeing our dogged spirits, the Nigeria Police Force, on 11th October 2020, disbanded FSARS, the unit that provoked us out of our homes. Yet, we were not satisfied.
In quest for better deals, seeing that we have recorded one victory, more of our brothers and fellow compatriots joined the protest adding to our voices. The protest which we could only record in few states also sprang up in other states and major cities across the country. What does this mean? It means that as a people, we are ready to face the government head to head until all our demands are met.
You will also recall that the Rivers State government had banned the Tuesday protest in Port Harcourt, an order which we defiled and still came out in our numbers to make happen. It was really shocking to see how Governor Nyesom Wike, who placed the ban on protests with legal implications for offenders, ate his own words by coming out to address us when we defiled his order. Why didn’t he arrest us like he said? I think he saw the fierce in us, so he had to succumb to our pressure. What does this mean? It means the government will succumb to the will of the people should we come together to fight a course.
The #ENDSARS protest, a mass action which I know the government never believed will escalate, has taken up to a week now as we have continuously trooped out in alliance with the course.
In Lagos, some of our brothers took the protest down to the state house of Assembly complex, as some even passed the night in front of the building. Still in Lagos, our people blocked the popular Lekki toll gate in protest. With the crowd on that day, one will think a concert or church crusade was holding right there, but it wasn’t. We are only Nigerians of this generation who are tired of the government’s quietness towards our demands. Also, in Abuja, we blocked some major parts of the city in line with same course.
As we continued to mount pressure on the government, On 17th October, 2020, news carried that the Police service commission had demoted and dismissed some officers from the force.
First, they disband SARS. Again, they dismiss and demote officers who have gone against the ethics of the force in one way or the other.
Like the popular saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” with the courageous step this generation has taken in the past few days, (standing up to the government to say enough is enough!) It’s clear that our voices are now being heard aloud and it is also very obvious that things are beginning to change gradually.
Well, just like we have spoken against SARS and police brutality, we are also speaking against Bad governance, and believe me when i say we will achieve this.
Just when it looked like this generation had lost its sense and voice to misplaced priorities, suddenly, a new Nigeria is about to be born from the boldness and fearlessness of this same generation. Indeed, this generation has broken a record. What a generation we are!
- Reginald Tobin is a writer and journalist based in Port Harcourt. He can be reached via Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @reginaldtobin2