“Who was prepared for this?”, FK Abudu asks as she ushers in the ISWIS podcast she co – hosts with Jola Ayeye. I have found myself asking this same question time and time again over the past 2 weeks.
Like many of you I have watched these duo and other amazing ladies and gentlemen champion the most well-coordinated protest in recent times. I say in recent times because to be honest I have never been as aware and politically vested as I was in these protests.
Our hearts swelled with pride and hope as we clamored first for an end to SARS brutality and then for wider reforms. All seemed on track till the horrific events of 20-10-2020 when unarmed protesters were killed at the Lekki tollgates. I have cried and screamed and vented and had my emotions go from hope to despair and back. How could a call to stop indiscriminate killings result in even more indiscrimate killings? I still can’t wrap my head around it! May the souls of all our fallen heroes Rest In Peace.
As sad as all these events have been, we have learnt so much about ourselves and about our nation Nigeria.
First, that we are all very vested in the growth of our nation and the betterment of its citizens. Most people genuinely care about each other and just want equal opportunities to live and excel. This protest was in a way about making life better for our policemen as well. Although they sadly didn’t see it that way.
Secondly we can achieve a lot if we lay aside personal motives and work towards a collective goal. Protests were organized in different cities in Nigeria with ‘no leaders’. Everyone just pitched in and did their quota and together, much was achieved. As youth we have a voice and if we speak in unison, our leaders won’t have a choice but to listen. I am hopeful that we will use our newly found power positively and channel it to the right causes. The conversation has started and will continue.
As an entrepreneur, this period has been particularly challenging. It’s particularly traumatic for businesses that have been looted and destroyed. Just when we thought we were out of the woods re-COVID, we have these setbacks to deal with hope that somehow you are able to rebuild.
Lastly we all have to get informed and involved. We can no longer afford to stay aloof. Injustice is evenly distributed in Nigeria. For some areas, its SARS brutality, for others its Boko Haram and yet for others armed bandits. Whatever the source of pain is, we must all rally together and fight for and support each other.
We must also engage and participate in the electoral process and in governance as a whole. Personally I will be reaching out to ElectHER over the next couple of weeks to see how I can get involved politically.
Bringing change is a really big elephant and eat it we must, albeit one bite at a time. We have started with #Endsars and police reforms, we will be back to eat the other parts.
For now, let’s stay safe and hopeful.