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Citizen Unrest, Protests End, What’s Next?

The 2012 Holly-Nollywood movie, Black November is worthy of reference at such tough moment in Nigeria’s history. The movie; starring Akon, Wyclef Jean, Ezinna Nwigwe, Fred Amata, OC Ukeje, Vivica Fox among others, strike a huge resemblance with the recent event which rocked the nation in October. 

The plot centred on the Niger-Delta part of Nigeria and their travails at the hands of an oil-producing company, Western Oil.

The character Ebiere, played by Mbong Amata became the face and voice of her people in Warri after they were killed in an oil-pipe explosion, despite being a scholarship beneficiary to study abroad from Western oils. 

Her several attempts to conduct peaceful protests were met with hostility by the Military Government. A section of the society led by Dede (Hakeem Kai-Kazim) voiced out their emotions through violence, vandalism and kidnapping. Series of events led to Dede’s death, Ebiere’s arrest and the militant group’s unsuccessful attempt to salvage Ebiere from a death sentence by hanging. 

Despite receiving negative reviews as evidenced by the 23 per cent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes as at June 2020, while Metacritic gave it a 31 score due to generally unfavourable reviews; core Nigerians will surely identify with the movie. Even Nollywood Reinvented said, “the film strikes immediately as an emotionally compelling story that brings to the Forefront a highly relevant political issue.”

For a recent event it resembled, look no further away from the End SARS protest against police brutality, which reached its Heights with the Lekki Tollgate Massacre. Bad governance, ridiculous policies and indifferent attitude of the government can be regarded as the remote cause, though police brutality was seen as the immediate reason for the protest.

This is in proximity to the movie plot as the exploitation of natural resources and seeming neglect of the residents’ natural habitats wherein they obtain their daily bread was the underlying grievance they had. The oil-pipe explosion only spurred them to question the government and perpetrators.

As usual, the government ordered a clampdown on the peaceful protesters; leading to arrests, rape and brutal murder. 

The most apparent in the real-life scene was the incident at Lekki Tollgate, even though the military and Lagos government kept dawdling with the truth on where the orders came from till date.

As always, they targeted the key persons in the protest. Ebiere got arrested and sentenced to death by hanging in the movie. In reality, Moe Abudu along with about 19 companies had their passports and accounts frozen due to participation in the End SARS protest, while some media houses were heavily sanctioned for covering the events. DJ Switch, who exposed the heinous act at the Toll Gate is currently on the run. 

It is now a stereotypical attempt by the government to give violent answers to protests. Meanwhile, social media is on the verge of being regulated, another feather to their shoulder as they plot to stifle the masses from airing their grievances. 

It also shows the futility in employing protest as the only way to change the government’s mind on unfavourable policies. This, therefore, raises the call on the need to re-strategize for better results. 

It is a pity that opposition parties only show up when the election is in sight. They fail to realize that it is their duty to put the ruling party on their toes. But who could blame them?! After all, they are birds of a feather. 

This is, therefore, a call on the youths and middle-aged, projected to hold about 81% combined of over 84 million voters population according to BudgIT statistics of the 2019 presidential election.

It is time to let go of political apathy, especially after considering the drop in participation from 44% in 2015 to 35% in 2019 Presidential election. Procrastination in getting to the nooks and crannies of the country, which is believed to be the stronghold of those currently wielding power should be abolished. 

It is time to organise political orientation for those in the grassroots to desist from electoral malpractices and wisely use their votes to hold politicians and public office holders accountable for their actions. 

This is also a call on any well-meaning Nigerian with the heart to create a better society through effective leading to commence coordinating the gospel of a better government without further delay. 

Statistics from BudgIT on the 2019 Presidential Election revealed that only 2 out of 73 candidates are above 70. This shows that a coalition of young minds is possible and it is an evident truth that only a coalition can unseat the current political bigwigs. In subsequent elections, a candidate should be unanimously chosen to serve as a Point man for Political offices.

Lastly, this is a call on the youths and electorates generally to forsake sentimental selections. Throwing weights behind a candidate based on age, gender, religion or ethnicity without considering competence and track records should be abandoned, as it has indeed led us nowhere.

But as usual, we will not listen. So the last words of the god Anlugbua in Femi Osofisan’s Women of Owu will be borrowed. 

“You humans, always thirsty for blood… Always eager to devour one another. I hope history will teach you.  I hope you will learn. Farewell”

This opinion story has been published on CAMPUS REPORTER with very minimal editing to preserve the original voice of the author. CAMPUS REPORTER does not bear any responsibility for the contents of this story, all views belong to the author.

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