THE TURNING POINT
Since last night when the soldiers turned what has been an incredibly well organised and moving protest into a bloodbath, I have moved from different moods- incredibility, anger, despondency into hopelessness, etc. My daughter woke me up this morning with her wailings of “what have we done wrong! This could have been anybody”. Indeed!
The mammoth destruction of properties, particularly the BRT buses, is irrational, senseless, and lamentable. One of the problems to our progress has always been a shortage of infrastructure and this only makes it worse. Those who have mindlessly wrecked destruction on our scant infrastructure are a major part of the problem.
I watched Gov. Jide Sanwoolu, the Governor in the eye of the storm. He is a young man I have grown to love for his sense of purpose. But today I thought he caught a pathetic figure. He was just emerging from an impressive Covid19 performance and also seemed to be handling this crisis, then yesterday’s disaster. He caught a pathetic figure. I am sure he didn’t impress himself with his denial of fatality. He will never be able to say, for years to come, what went wrong. Whose idea was it to hurriedly declare a curfew? Who gave the order for the unit of the army armed to the teeth to move against defenseless youth and shoot point-blank? They were caged in, CCTV dismantled, lights switched off, given no warnings to stop or leave, and then the volley of bullets were unleashed on them before an incredulous world! This was a premeditated murder!
Gov. Sanwoolu looked as much a victim as the demonstrators. He dares not say all he knows, at least, not yet. He looked drenched, disarmed, and disheveled.
The respected Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka woke us up with his treatise of today. What do we do in this totally confusing situation?
President Buhari, once again, has, unfortunately, broken another record in human rights abuse. He must get out of his stony and grotesque silence and do that which he is not accustomed to- reach out to the kids, apologise and bind wounds like the father of the nation. If I were his adviser I would say to him it’s never too late to do things right. It will be a grave error to consider the cause of the youth as defeated or vanquished. They have shown that they are angry and that the old tricks will not work against them. This is a different generation with global reach. We, the elders have failed them massively. With differing degrees of culpability, we have run this country aground. Nigeria is not working. There’s no fairness and justice in this land. Nothing we do surprises the world anymore. If we are serious ( and we are not) we will see the need to go back to basics from our derailment. We need to work extra hard for restoration. It will not come in a jiffy but it can come only if we work for it. We must get away from the usual cutting corners and from deceit and one section playing a fast one on the other. It was what got us into this mess. There must be a comprehensive discussion of our union. We are at a tipping point. Nobody is deceived and nobody is fooled anymore. The dissent in the land is deep. The world waits for a Nigeria which, for once, takes its responsibility seriously.
Our young ones must also be told that they need to reorganise. They must know that wittingly or unwittingly, they have dabbled into politics. Power struggle is never meant to be a tea party. A leaderless revolution, at best, is naive. If they are afraid or unwilling to select a leadership to lead the fundamental change they demand, they may be making a joke of a serious matter. They must name their team of leaders who will carry the burden of their struggle and negotiate their cause. All battles and causes end up on the negotiating table.
This battle is neither won nor defeated. Let no one be deceived. We have not always been a nation of long distance runners. But winning a war and building a nation is not done by a quick dash! It is a tough call and Nigeria’s will not be different.
Adeyemi Adefulu, MFR
Prince Adeyemi Adefulu MFR is the Chairman, Governing Council of Tai Solarin College of Education Omu Ijebu, Ogun State and an elder statesman