By Abachi Ungbo
Police brutality is commonplace and well documented in the country. And, justice is hardly served to victims of the savagery. In effect, it is carried out with reckless impunity. When the reported police attack against a citizen in Ughelli, Delta state became public, it instantly resonated with not a few as a result gaining currency.
The country is convulsing under an unprecedented youth demonstration metastasizing across many towns and cities and beyond the country. Revolt against government was long foretold with many dismissive of it. The Arab uprising was a notice to countries like Nigeria on the necessity of taking their youthful population seriously.
The odds are heavily stacked against the Nigerian youth. Youth unemployment is on the uptick with opportunities of making life meaningful effectively at a premium. The best amongst them are often overlooked and sacrificed at the altar of mediocrity. At the end of the day, they are derided and labelled “lazy youths” The protest is a precursor to a larger wave of disturbances which is already at the doorstep.
Young heroes and heroines have emerged having waited interminably for a “saviour” from the old guards to step on the plate. No one envisaged the intensity and spread of the protest. It was thought that the protest will quickly ebb away. The youth protesters have gained in confidence and resolve.
The seething cauldron of trouble has since been brewing while the government looked the other way simply playing the ostrich. Truth is, justice and fairness have since taken flight. And, these are ingredients that cannot be dispense with in nation building. Somewhat, the protest is proving to be a one-stop shop for many grievances. There’s no telling how it will come into conclusion.
Despair looms large across the country. When despair yields it place for desperation society become seriously imperiled. Regardless of how small or amorphous the protest is, as many are quick to describe, it sends a strong message that must not be glossed over.
The #EndSARS protest provides a screaming sub-text for the citizens’ disenchantment with the prevailing state of affairs. It is also, a metaphor for a root and branch re-invention of the country and a subtle vote of no confidence.
The present administration has effectively mismanaged the many instruments of our unity further accentuating myriad of our fault lines. The President has maintained aloofness on many issues requiring his frontal intervention allowing his aides to inflame situation that would ordinarily require tact and professionalism.
Granted, a plethora of the challenges besetting the country predates the administration. Nonetheless, it goes without saying that there has been a demonstrable display of lethargic, insouciance and absence of coordination at the seat of power. The fabled qualities of the President that have earned him the appellation of “Messiah” hasn’t bubbled to the surface. Obviously, we have given the President up for lost in the maze of administration of the country.
Now that the genie has popped out of the bottle. It will take a lot of doing in putting it back. It remain to be seen how the government will manage the situation given its lack of temperament and maturity in handling opposite views.
Nigeria is a great country with prodigious potentials. It will be a pathetic sight to have the country dissolve like wax. We have given away our diversity which is supposed to be a cornucopia of strength and opportunities through poor leadership. The rainbow derives it beauty from its kaleidoscope of colours . Our rich resource is the diverse PEOPLE, all other resources are finite.
The exploits of Nigerians is needless to state. Significantly, harnessing this rich array of people and natural resources should be a big deal for a leader with a vision. The protest is an augury of a new Nigeria that will begin to hold leaders accountable and hold them to their allegiance to the unity of the country.
Attempt at exercising power over the protest will further do incalculable damage. I do not know for what purpose the Operation Crocodile Smile VI was launched. Despite, the Army spokesman attempt at explaining away the launch. It could be said that there’s more to it that meets the eyes not least the timing which is not a coincidence.
It is time for constructive engagement with youths and leaders of thought for a genuine change of the status quo. We must understand that the call for police reform is clearly a call for the overhaul of the entire soul of the nation And, i concur with the idea of comprehensive restructuring of the nation in whatever fashion. After all, it was part of the agenda of the administration which led to a set up of a committee in August 2017 headed by Gov.El-rufai.
The country has stopped working except for a handful that exercise power with impunity while a preponderance of the citizens are languishing in misery and severe deprivation.
Abachi Ungbo is a Public Affairs Analyst.