Times have never been this hard on Nigerians.
Suicide is a national creed while the suicide note is the anthem.
It’s either one Nigerian is drinking the poison known as Sniper or another Nigerian is jumping off the Third Mainland Bridge into the deep blue sea of death.
Something needs to be done fast before a Nigerian sets himself on fire and thus puts the entire nation on fire of eternal damnation.
It did happen elsewhere.
One man changed the history of the world by setting himself on fire.
The Tunisian, Mohammed Bouazizi, was unable to find work and had to make ends meet by selling fruits at a roadside stand.
On December 17, 2010 a municipal inspector seized his wares. An hour later, he doused himself with petrol and set himself on fire.
His death on January 4, 2011 brought together various groups dissatisfied with the existing system in Tunisia: the unemployed, political and human rights activists, trade unionists, students, professors, lawyers, and many others.
Thus began the Tunisian Revolution.
Barely 10 days after the sacking of President Ben Ali in Tunisia, protests began in Egypt on January 25, 2011 and ran for 18 days.
Beginning around midnight on 28 January, the Egyptian government attempted to eliminate the nation’s Internet access, in order to inhibit the protesters’ ability to organize through social media. It was all in vain for, on February 11, 2011, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was forced to flee from power, after being in office for about 30 years.
Then the revolution spread to Libya, the land of the then strongman Muammar Gaddafi. The Libya protests lasted till October 20, 2011 when Gaddafi met with his gruesome death.
The uprisings that swept through the Arab world were given the name: The Arab Spring.
The fear of the Arab Spring spreading to other parts of the world got on the front burner in this day and age of the social media.
Through the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry etc., landmark protests could easily be organized in the twinkle of an eye.
Nigeria had a spectre of the Arab Spring when the then President Goodluck Jonathan removed the fuel subsidy on January 1, 2012. This was done without the consent of the legislature. And there was not even enough dialogue with labour unions and civil society organizations.
The very unpopular New Year “gift” sparked off spontaneous anti-government demonstrations in many Nigerian cities the very next day, that is, on January 2.
Nigerian towns such as Kaduna, Kano, Ibadan, Ilorin, Kebbi, Gusau etc. were literally on fire as many protesters marched on the streets with placards and made bonfires.
The demonstrations brought together the unemployed, the under-employed, the employed, the poor, ill-assorted classes of people, the educated, the uneducated, the artisans, sundry workers, musicians, diverse artists, students, all kinds of activists and, yes, tribesmen.
The name that was given to the crusade was “Occupy Nigeria”.
A melting pot of the struggle was the Gani Fawehinmi Square in Ojota, Lagos.
For a week, from sun-up to sun down, the many classes of Nigerians converged at the square. The number of protesters increased steadily.
The “Occupy Nigeria” protests petered out when the government rolled out tanks and ordered soldiers into the streets of Lagos to stop the protesters in their tracks.
Jonathan then announced that the government had reached an agreement with the labour unions to bring down the petrol price to 97 Naira from the high of 141 Naira.
The leaders of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress decided to call off the strike.
And thus was averted what would have amounted to the Nigerian Spring.
Let’s get to the present tense of the here and now.
Nigeria is once again in a season of anomie.
President Muhammadu Buhari has somewhat been indulged after raising the fuel prize to an all-time high of 145 Naira.
The exchange rate of the Naira has become well-nigh unbearable.
Inflation is king.
Nigeria has bagged the unwanted title of the “Poverty Capital” of the world.
The hunger that made Tunisia’s Mohammed Bouazizi to set himself on fire, thus sparking off the Arab Spring, is an everyday Nigerian nightmare now.
In short, anything can happen.
One small misstep can lead to cataclysmic tragedy.
Given the mess the countries of the Arab Spring are in today, Nigeria should learn the lesson of being saved from anarchy.
A Nigerian must not be driven to set himself on fire.
The consequences are dire.