If there is one thing I hate with a passion, it is injustice.
I have never been able to see injustice and do nothing about it even if it means merely speaking out. I have a deep rooted belief that there is a bit of God in every human being no matter how they look, what they have and where they come from so as a result, I try, as much as possible, to value everybody I come in contact with. You will find me mostly on the side of the underdog no matter how unpopular it is because most people do not root for him and though I do not cry frequently, tears always come to my eyes when I hear stories of injustice and inhumanity and conversely -bravery and courage.
My favorite films are Braveheart, Schindler’s List and The Lord of the Rings and the common thread in all these films is that someone stood up to be counted when it mattered most in the face of fear, danger to self and against popular culture.
Like every one of us, I have followed the events of the last two weeks closely, I believe strongly in the cause of the youths in their bid to end police brutality in Nigeria and though I was only able to join the protests physically on one occasion, I spread their message across the several platforms I belong to with the knowledge that though the message was #EndSars, the real agitation was against the systemic failures of our country and was beyond what the youth could handle on their own.
The past few days have confirmed my belief, though leaving me reeling with different emotions ranging from pride, optimism, caution, fear, introspection and determination. I have wept severally reading stories of our inhumanity to one another and though I wept I also inexplicably experienced feelings of optimism and exhilaration. I must say, these are very interesting times to be alive and my guts tell me strongly that we are on the cusp of change, however it lies within us to decide whether that change will bring the desired outcome we wish for our nation.
We all accept that things have gone south with the country, we see daily the injustice perpetuated by our leaders and politicians, we bemoan the state of our economy and compare ourselves to other countries where everything works but we had deluded ourselves into believing that there was at least a semblance of order. The past few days have cured our delusions, our society has been stripped bare before us and we can see things for what they really are.
We, especially the educated and middle class have come to the discovery that we can no longer stand aloof from the consequences of the rot that has been ravaging every sector of our land. We have realized that although we have created an oasis for ourselves by providing all what the government should provide for its citizens- water, housing, electricity, security, education etc, we are surrounded by a desert – people who don’t have the things we have because government has failed us all.
In my opinion, what we are seeing now, is a war waged by the poor against the rich. Access to social media by all and sundry has afforded the poor the opportunity to see how things are done in other climes, they have become aware that leaders are meant to serve and not rule over citizens and they know that their commonwealth has been stolen by the said leaders. They know that we stood by rather than call out politicians who diverted public monies to their own pockets, they saw us celebrate them and give them places of honor in the land rather than admonish them. They told us stories of how they were brutalized by the law enforcement agencies but we ignored them saying to ourselves surely they must have brought it upon themselves, we didn’t speak up for them as we ought nor fight for them where we could and today they have turned on us, the monsters we created to serve us have risen against us and by their sheer numbers they have seemingly overpowered us sending us cowering in our homes whilst they rule the streets.
Unfortunately, they are unable to differentiate between the government oppressor and the middle class. As far as they are concerned, everyone that has something better than them made their money fraudulently and so they are justified in stealing from the middle class because after all “Egunje spoil Naija” and we serve the politicians who stole from the government.
Today’s revolt is an opportunity to right our wrongs, to take steps to ensure that we do not have to go down this path ever again by agitating for a society that is inclusive and mindful of everyone especially its vulnerable citizens. It behooves us to demand good governance from our political leaders, to ensure that our society works, that a new structure based on the value for every citizen is entrenched in our society.
We can do this by forming pressure groups to agitate for better governance, joining or forming political parties, educating the populace on their civic duties and rights, speaking up for the rights of others and against corruption, nepotism and bigotry, demanding justice for the aggrieved and eschewing selfishness, tribalism and religious prejudices.
We must take the opportunity afforded us and stand to be counted otherwise, I fear that we will come back again to the ruins of whatever future we have been able to create for ourselves if we fail to do so now.