By Segun Ige
It is altogether surprising and disheartening that the looting and shooting of hotly contested stratification of #EndSARS would have ‘troublesomely’ featured in The New York Times. The language power and portrayal of the Lekki Toll Gate butchery and debauchery begins to splash out ripples to my reticent mind.
On October 22, 2020, The New York Times reports that: “Tens of thousands of people have been protesting for weeks against a notoriously brutal and corrupt Nigerian police agency: the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS”. Why is it that it is the darkest of all sides of Nigeria’s numerous stories that seem interestingly newsworthy to foreign media, even in the US?
Reading in-between the lines, I find out that SARS has been recognised as “notoriously brutal and corrupt Nigerian police agency”. And I begin to wonder if, in the meantime, these descriptive reporters actually do know Nigeria, as it were, or that they have ill-digestedly concluded, between microseconds and with the circulatory mechanism of news production, that Nigeria is some country more accrued to Walter Headley’s “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” sentimental summarisation. Technically, that’s the attitudinal disposition of the super-spreaders of this “fake news”.
I didn’t expect The New York Times to have covered such story, in that hardly will you find the Nigerian stories featuring in such newspaper – because of the sparsity of space, I suspect. Wait a minute, does Nigeria even have “stories”? Well, it doesn’t seem so: what we have reported and recast is a recursion of events rooted in covert and overt bigotry and brazen brigandage.
Now, the reality should sharply bite us as to whether or not the Republic of Nigeria would or wouldn’t be so named after the Armenia-Azerbaijan discharge of fire powers. Clearly, the Nagorno-Karabakh disputed region typifies what, potentially, Nigeria might experience year or years to come. But what’s this “region” the #EndSARS protesters are claiming and clamouring for?
What is even more considerable, the wanton pillage and decimation wrought by those who overturned the pretext and purpose of the well-intentioned protest could have well been pretty avoided, provided government had heeded cryogenic catch-cry of the police apparently super-funded brutalities, rather than winnowing the weight of such vapid verbalisations.
It’s about time Nigerian leaders began to be concerned about the long-term, future impact of their short-term decisions and determinations. They should, in other words, be introspective and retrospective of the repressions today inevitably has on tomorrow. Little wonder what the future holds as the Nigerian flag was and is stained by blood of innocent souls who have, every which way, got promising futures.
If not for the ramshackleness of our handling of such an endowed and renowned country; if not for the penchant to perpetuate and privatise the glory of Nigeria; if not for the lukewarmness aided and abetted by leaders who are disinterested in glorifying unconscionable acts and habits, I do well believe in the dictum and desideratum of “helping our youth the truth to know”.
And how can and should we help them realise the truth when our leaders are not guided and directed by the truth in word and in action? How should we be fellow-helpers of the truth to them in the journey of self-discoveries for self-deliveries, when we are not appropriating and acknowledging the truth, in profession and in practice?
How should we support our youth to grow in love and honesty, when we love in words and not in actions, as it were, and when our homicides of duty and responsibility are not earmarked for unvarnished sincerity? How should we encourage our youth to be peaceful nation-builders, when we have not built and inculcated the right spirits into and within them?
We cannot but start demonstrating the essence of value-based leadership and transparent governance, if and only if the baton of leadership would be handed over to the youth some day.
We should be consecrated to continuance of all-inclusive leadership. The destiny of Nigeria has not been solely committed to a few octogenarians and septuagenarians. Nigeria is not and should not be a generational heritage. Leadership by merit is of paramount importance. I sincerely appreciate the fervent fronliners contending for reestablishing and restructuring Nigeria.
To be sure, the restoration of damaged and destroyed tens of thousands of properties, vehicles, and selectively restricted locations is tellingly reflective of the notable necessity of having a structure suitable for the peace and progress of Nigeria.
And instead of strictly and myopically concentrating on the short-term damage and losses, we should be engrossed charting out the structure Nigeria should be guided by. It’s a pointer to the indisputable and inestimable fact that Nigeria should be building its future on solid practicable principles.
Indeed, the looting and shooting are luxurious of the nature and architecture of the American politics – and it’s fast percolating through our sensibilities and temperaments! Surely, the existential realities of the ‘American problem’ are beginning to seriously surface in the Nigerian dichotomy in terms of the ‘Entscheidungsproblem’ of leadership.
Information is the oxygen of modern age. The overwhelming crises spawned by the year 2020 are informative enough to transform a nation for the better. It is only when we’re deliberately yearning to the warnings and teachings of emerging “pandemics” that Nigeria would sporadically be on the verge of boundless recognisable political regression and retrogression.
If so, we might let the lessons unlearned today begin to have dire consequences on the youth who have a bright and hopeful future. It would be extremely uncalled-for that the elite and intelligentsia are the ones planting the trees of rejection and discrimination, among other countries, whereupon the (un)born generations are most likely to find no one atoning and propitiating for them.
*Ige, a public affairs commentator, wrote via: firstname.lastname@example.org