By Mariam Mohammed
I was wondering if I should join the fray owing to the shrill and discordant voices over the terror that seems to have taken over our country when I remembered the immortal words of Rick Riordan, the American novelist of ‘The Red Pyramid.’
“It takes strength and courage to admit the truth,” Riordan wrote. At a time such as this when emotions are running high and reasoning takes backstage, there is the need for everyone to ‘calm down’ and think through what has become a tragic outcome.
The first rule of any agitation is having an exit plan. When the #EndSARS protest began, I was persuaded like many others that it was geared towards bringing to account officers and men of the police who have acted out of order and should be supported.
But apparently, I and a lot more persons were mistaken. For a protest or agitation that was aimed at reforms to have no discernible leadership and keep mutating its demands, it was a recipe for disaster. And that is what it has become.
History has shown that every war, resistance, movement, and advocacy ends at the negotiating table. To therefore imagine that the #EndSARS agitators lacked this stark awareness brings to question the ability of GenerationZ to lead.
How on earth can you effect change when the basic requirements of leadership – negotiation and structure are lacking? It is regrettable that the purveyors of the protest were more enamoured by the blitz and glitz of celebrity recognition rather than be ready to sit with the government to table their demands. Anyone can put up demands on social media and dream that the government will simply accede to those.
One has to concede that for once, the government saw the wisdom to engage and bought into the narrative of the agitators and without a blink of the eye disbanded the SARS and instructed state governments to set up judicial panels of inquiry to deal with the myriads of allegations against personnel of the SARS. If the promoters of the campaign were reasonable, they should have seized the moment and given the government some length of time to see concrete results.
But no! They were lost in the bazaar of their new found power. Only that it was pyrrhic, a fluke and fleeting. That is the danger of not having an end goal. Even the United States of America reputed to be the strongest country on earth does not shift the goalpost in the course of negotiation. Enough was not simply enough for the puppet masters (mistresses) behind the orchestrated protests.
While I am inclined to agree that the government ought to have moved much faster than it did, those who like the dog lost in the wild should bear the greater burden of guilt and be held responsible. The law is the law, however, inconvenient and objectionable. That is why court orders are obeyed even when a sense of miscarriage of justice is sensed. When it was announced across states especially Lagos state that a curfew had been put in place, as citizens agitating for a better deal, it was only natural to obey the governor’s directive. But the protestors dizzy and giddy with the wine of social activism simply were lost. If the military went overboard because of imminent threat to themselves and the state, the goading of those out in the streets was the catalyst to the few unfortunate fatalities.
One is as guilty as the other.
As the losses are counted, as sanity gradually returns and people grapple with how to move from one destination to the other but with fewer buses, hard lessons would have been learnt.
May Nigeria win! Amen.