By Victor Arjiromanus
Perhaps, United States 35th president, John F. Kennedy was first to state that; ‘the great struggle in the history of man, past, present and future, is the struggle of those determined to be free.’ But, he, nor those before his lifetime and until now, ever witnessed such a determination which is being portrayed now, by the young people in Nigeria that seek to put an end to the long years of oppression and brutality they have been subjected to by their leaders, in a country they cannot confidently call their home.
For several days now, young Nigerians have held not just the country, but, obviously the world, spellbound, by a tag ‘ENDSARS’ that has become common to the Earth dwellers. In what seems theatrical, they have made the world their stage, and every person has set out to watch a play scripted with the blood of those brutally murdered and oppressed by a Police unit in Nigeria, named;, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a unit meant to fight high robbery cases, but, turned high-handedly and notorious for the killing, brutalising, maiming, extorting and arresting of citizens they claimed were criminals without any form of trial or investigation. But, this play without a writer, will take a twist in the coming days, bringing unimaginable trills.
The gruesome murder of a 20years old newly graduated Ifeoma Abugu, who just had her traditional marriage and was paying a visit to her fiancée, but, was picked up by the SARS operatives in her fiancée’s residence, was the last match stick that lit up the fire that has refused to burn out till today. Report states that Ifeoma was brutalised and raped to death by the policemen who are still roaming freely without being arrested. Her sad story is just a drop in the ocean of deaths the SARS created.
While Social media platforms, especially Twitter have been agog with the ‘ENDSARS’ hashtag, snatching the number one position on top trend list world over for some days, and has continuously been the number one on Nigeria’s trend list since the ENDSARS mantra began, those who could move out, trooped in their millions to take over streets in major cities like: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna, Onitsha and thousands in almost all the remaining states on a daily basis, they block major roads with lifted banners that inscribes the demands of their struggle, mount canopies, light up streets at night, and those with the means took the responsibility to carter for the needs of others. Even food and drink companies that saw the resoluteness of the people started distributing their products daily, without charge.
Nigerian Celebrities and Entertainers alike, for the first time ever, united amass to lead people in protests, other social and civil groups with young people, too, took their turn in donating funds in millions to spread the struggle beyond bounds, and have been speaking with one voice, defying government appeal to put them to rest. Christians hold their prayer services on the protest grounds, while Muslims say their Jumat on the same ground, breaking the religious conspiracy that has been misconstrued and used as a divisive weapon against them over the past. Ethnicity and class barriers were sent to rest at these times.
Although the previous demand of the people was that the government should end immediately, the filthy SARS unit, the Inspector General of police, Muhammed Adamu on October 13th came out to announce on national TV that the unit has been dissolved. But, later a new one, called Special Weapons Artillery Team (SWAT), was announced, yet, the people knowing that the streets they have marched for days are littered with government’s broken promises, hurriedly came up with a new tag ‘ENDSWAT’ with a new demand called ‘5of5’ which states clearly what exactly they want, and anything short of that, they will not leave the streets. Then, it became obvious that the ‘ENDSARS’ campaign was all along, only a good excuse, and the right opportunity for the oppressed people to demand freedom from a government that has held them long in fetters. A decision taken freely and collectively, because, they have finally come to realise that to become involved in a struggle for freedom is the only honour left to an oppressed people threatened with genocide’.
Sixty years since self-rule, where many of Nigeria’s heroes’ journeys to bring them greatness were severely thwarted at each point of embarkation, by those in authority, no one has really seen a long walk as this, brought about by the offspring of the lost heroes. People who have been deprived of good education, where students have been at home for the past Seven months due to government’s refusal to reconcile avoidable issues with universities governing body, but, the children of politicians attend the best schools abroad; a country whose healthcare system is in shamble, but, the leaders are their family members are flown out for treatment when they have slight headache; a country where over Thirty million young people are jobless, and educated people ride bikes on the street; a country where hunger is taking the lives of families, an oil producing country where fuel price is as costly as food; a country where Thirty Thousand naira is too much to pay workers as their minimum wage, but, Senator’s take home Twenty Nine million naira monthly as allowances; a country where almost nothing works.
The truth is that the ‘ENDSARS’ protest would just be parish, an issue that Nigerians are marching for, that will just be killing a louse on the body of a dog that bites people. Somewhere in their heart, they know, their intention is to end a system that keeps taciturn to the gruesome massacre of citizens and pogrom of a set, using weapons of oppression.
The people are fed up, and are saying, it is time to emancipate them.
Victor Arjiromanus is a Nigerian Investigative Journalist, writer and socio-political commentator. He has several works on social and political issues affecting Nigeria.