GRIEF, prancing on our digital phones recite their epitaphs across passion-planes and boundaries, into the dark night.
One minute, they were alive, clear-eyed, and bubbling; next minute, they fell bejeweled in green white green, the colour of captives and bloodied patriots.
Karma awaits the ‘goons’ that mauled protesters and police into irregular postage stamps of death.
Some have blamed their fate on infernal youth and conceit; many have flayed the police for insensitivity, and the protesters for lack of a clear plan and strategy for dealing with venomous leadership. They said they dared to duel with shayateen without a tough shield. Did they?
Tuesday, October 20, 2020, Nigeria’s youth challenged the deviltry of wily oligarchs, manic thugs, and henchmen; policemen slaved to repel them. But none could tell the venomous wing of the infernal spring.
Hero or villain, they were citizens chanting bigotries, the language of slaves and raptorial rulers.
Protesters and police: expendable pawns and victims of a sinister agenda advanced by a coalition of dark minds.
But for all the flak they incite, they were not without love or beauty. Their passion pulsed with spokes of valour. Their clamour greased the wheels of hope even as they rallied and railed against the excesses of insolent leadership, bandit-SARS, and deadly thugs.
This minute, chaos and dust benumb their eyes, rendering them russet-grey, the colour of death and mud bed; 51 civilians, 11 policemen, and seven soldiers – and perhaps more – were hacked to death in the unrest following peaceful protests over police abuses.
They cannot halt the descent of leadership in our broken country. But we shan’t forget them. Hero and pawn. Villain and victim.
Nigeria will never forget, Tuesday, October 20, 2020, when irate youths marched together, eyes aflare, hearts afire, chanting “EndSARS!” until a volley of soldier bullets pierced their motley crew apart, in the name of leadership and state. Silence.
Nigeria must never forget, Tuesday, October 20, 2020, when police officers launched a hapless defensive, against an army of bloodthirsty youths. Silence.
Police and protesters, EndSARS and ProSARS, violent and peaceful, a baleful lyric succeeds their dissent. It pervades our social space.
President Muhammadu Buhari blamed hooliganism for the violence while asserting that security forces used “extreme restraint.” Silence.
The political class must explain why impassioned pleas registered as sin to their executive and legislative gangster-hood. They never saw it coming, that a generation hitherto written off as too bland, too self-indulgent and hobbled with the personality of a paper cup, could dare question their perilous class.
#EndSARS mutated to #Endbadgovernance, and #Reducepublicofficerssalaries among others. In their jazzy rage, the youths forgot how resonantly their threat pitched, in the deathly sanctums of gun-made gods.
Scared, the latter deployed the sickest tricks in their arsenal, sending goons and arsonists after the protesters’ rudderless hordes. Thus the conspiracy theories about an unholy union of government and goons, internal pawns and external masterminds – and frantic disavowals of them.
Yet nobody would explain the man in a black suit, transporting armed thugs on a black SUV, to attack harmless protesters in Abuja. Nobody would explain how 1,993 prisoners staged a jailbreak in Edo, in mufti.
Nobody could tell why there were no gunshots between prison security and jail-breakers, and the invaders breaking them free. While we savour the ill-plotted fiction of the Edo jailbreak, let us not forget the ‘celebrity’ jail-breaker who took his time to grant an interview.
Videos offer grotesque memories. In Lagos, police stations were set ablaze by hoodlums; in one of such attacks, they invaded the station and carted away rifles.
In Lagos, a police officer was stabbed in the eye and clubbed to death by an irate mob. In Ibadan, another was bludgeoned to death, doused with petrol and set on fire by maniacal youths. The murdered policemen were some children’s fathers, some wives’ husbands.
Then, Lekki; where several youths fell pierced, chanting the national anthem, waving the Nigerian flag futilely, against a hail of bullets by uniformed men. They were some parents’ wards, some partners’ spouses. Silence.
Picture what it felt like for bullets to clash against their skin. I would neither mention nor unearth their fatal grief. But Nigeria will live for the moments when their motley crowd mended and mounted the soapbox to spiritedly spout and be seen.
And since government won’t recall how their little moments became our big moments, shall we recall those fleeting hours they spent rousing our impatience with sleaze, that we might march in spirit and virtual lock-step with their impassioned feet?
Will the mother to some murdered child step up? Will the wife, husband to some murdered spouse emerge to demand justice for the savage attack against citizenry and state?
But while we debate and spar over the miscarriage of power and privilege at the Lekki massacre or not-massacre, let Nigeria remember the pierced and fallen, mitred as martyrs.
Let no one exploit their living and dying for rancid benefits. Let no one plunder their memories for frantic frills. After all, it was just their life in parts, substantially mingled with ours. Shall they end up as random punchlines in our book of deeds?
Memories of their rage intrude our lives in fervent bursts, haunting us all, riding our moonlit dawns roughshod; they have left behind unfinished dreams for us to cradle. Shall we actualise them or continue to spout, just to be seen? Shall we tease our practiced tremble into a punch?
The youths have had their say. They have enjoyed their day in the arena, chanting slogans, trading contempt, and juvenile angst. “Soro soke! Werey!” they railed. Now, that they are done fiddling with rage, it’s about time they learned to articulate dissent beyond the racket that approximates silence.
The #EndSARS movement is pointless if every Nigerian youth – including the protesters – do not get to vote at the 2023 elections.
Had they quit the streets for the negotiation table, immediately the government accepted their five-point demand, disbanded SARS, and mandated all the states to set-up judicial panels, to investigate past and present cases of police brutality, they would retain their vantage ground.
They could, for instance, request that the government normalises the BVN for electronic voting, come 2023, and the international passport, driver’s license, and national identity card as acceptable means of voting at the general elections.
Now, they must duel with the political class to obtain the ever-elusive voter’s card from their predatory grasps.
There is no need for sadness now if the echoes of fake news and our lies, diminish our killing fields, hallowed like a parliament, where patriots aspired to something great, against the bullets and blades of random malefactors.
For the sake of the fallen, shall irate youth embrace peace and relearn tact? Shall we relearn the fate of the father who slaves for a pittance in deathly factories to sustain his family, the housewife who starves that her children may not go hungry, and the student who pawns her chastity to put herself through school?
Shall we unlearn the lure of lawmakers and governors, who burned our prospects to a white skull, that they might attain glory out of our pain?
Shall we choose ballot over bullets, and boot out the villains dosing our maladies with hate?
Read the original article on The Nation