• Monday, July 15, 2024
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The bullets were meant for us (3)

The bullets were meant for us (3)

The US presidential candidate Joe Biden called on the Nigerian government to cease the “violent crackdown on protesters.” (This article was written then).

Added to this, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on the President of Nigeria as well as the army to “stop killing young #EndSARS protesters”

From Britain, the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab expressed deep concern and alarm at the reports of civilian deaths, calling for an end to the violence. In a statement made on Wednesday 21st October 2020, he said: “I am deeply concerned by the violence in Nigeria, including widespread reports of civilian deaths. We call for an end to all violence. The Nigerian government must urgently investigate reports of brutality by its security forces and hold those responsible to account.”

Stephen Doughty, a member of the UK Parliament, made the following statement at Parliamentary deliberations a day after the Tollgate shooting: “It is crucial given the horrific scenes we have seen overnight… I hope that the Minister can perhaps share with us the government’s responses to the shocking scenes.”

He was reportedly horrified with the reports he received from Nigeria and he later tweeted: “I raised the shocking killings of the EndSARS protestors in Lekki toll gate, Lagos Nigeria this morning in the House of Commons with Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Minister Nigel Adams. I am horrified by the reports I am receiving. UK Government must urgently raise at the highest levels with Nigeria.”

What is remarkable is that from China and Russia, mum is the word!! No comment whatever.

On CNN, His Royal Majesty, The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi (ex-St. Gregory’s College and now late) disclosed that he was utterly shocked and perplexed by the madness that would compel security agents to shoot at protesters who were armed with only the Nigerian green-white-green national flag while singing the national anthem.

Read also: The bullets were meant for us (2)

According to Professor Michael Sandel, the American philosopher and the Anne T. and Robert M. Professor of Government Theory at Harvard University Law School: “These are dangerous times for democracy. We live in an age of winners and losers, where the odds are stacked in favour of the already fortunate. Stalled social mobility and entrenched inequality give the lie to the promise that “you can make it if you try.”

The crux of the matter is that ever since 1991 when General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida commenced the relocation of the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja, Lagos and Lagosians have found themselves in a most unexpected predicament. The assumption was that the pressure on Lagos would shift to Abuja.

However, on the contrary, more and more people just keep flooding into Lagos. To further compound matters, the expectation that Lagos would be accorded a special status or allocated additional resources has remained a pipe dream. The Federal Government appears to have turned a deaf ear to all our pleas for a special intervention fund/compensation for Lagos.

In pursuing what rightly belongs to us, we have to be very careful. What we require are converts to our cause, not more adversaries. From the diaspora, especially the United States of America, we have been inundated with requests for data and statistics of how many indigenes of Lagos are employed by the banks; telecommunications companies; oil and gas companies; insurance companies; companies located within the Export Processing Zone in Lekki; shipping companies; airlines; hotels; etc.

The same information is required of the state government itself. Also, to be included are consultancies and contracts. Therefore, it behoves indigenes of Lagos to arm themselves with the right skills, experience and character to qualify to sit at the top table instead of lamenting about being marginalised or relegated to the second division.

Even in the midst of a war of survival especially when we are under threat of extinction, we must not only keep our eyes wide open, our ears must remain at high alert.

On resilience television, Yinka Odumakin (now late) sounded the alarm: “What we saw during the #EndSARS was just a dress rehearsal of the main day if we fail to reset. The real hoodlums of this disorganised society who throw chairs and other dangerous weapons when they are fighting for the spoils of office now want the masses to behave like gentlemen when there is a festival of the oppressed.”

There can be no greater demonstration of oppression than the wanton destruction of public and private property. I witnessed it at first hand when the government seized my grandfather’s (Dr. J.K. Randle) property, “The Love Garden” at Onikan, Lagos and handed it over to the Musical Society of Nigeria (MUSON). It did not stop there.

In response to my application for approval to build a befitting edifice to replace Chief J.K Randle Memorial Hall, also at Onikan, the response from government was to “weaponize oppression” by summoning the terrorist arm of the police – SARS to accompany its officials to demolish and bulldoze not only the Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall but also the adjacent Dr. J.K. Randle Swimming Pool. Within a matter of a few hours, our heritage had been turned into rubble in broad daylight. There was no prior notice or acquisition order in compliance with the Land Use Act.

We must give credit to our ancestors for tutoring us – to complain about being oppressed is the first sign of weakness. That is not in the DNA of Lagosians. We know how to deal with banditry and brigandage.

The front-page editorial of “The Nation” on November 1, 2020 must have been written by the usual suspect (Professor Adebayo Williams): “The EndSARS protest against police brutality was just a pretext for more massive social upheavals, organised banditry which has devastated the north central states and an on-going sectarian insurrection which has lasted eleven years. Nigeria is bleeding on all fronts. The nation has been in traumatic transition since independence.

In a strange irony, the post-military epoch seems to have sharply accentuated the debacle. Nigeria suffered from a double jeopardy. Military rule brought neither accelerated development nor national cohesion while civil rule has failed to throw up an organic and nationalist political class capable of squarely addressing the grave national problems.

With its economy devastated by a crippling war bill, dwindling revenues due to a mono-cultural dependence on oil, open mismanagement of resources, graft and spell-binding corruption in all arms of government, Nigeria’s woes have been critically compounded by the post-COVID-19 realities.”

Abiodun Fijabi spoke the minds of most indigenes of Lagos when he delivered the war cry: ‘Beware The Poor Are Coming’

“They poor are coming with fury – to forcefully demand their slice of the national cake at every opportunity. The poor are not the #EndSARS protesters – those young and upward mobile Nigerians from cultured homes you applauded for their disciplined, peaceful and well-organised actions. The poor possess no such discipline, no finesse. They have neither the capacity to fundraise nor the skill to clarify and articulate their positions on issues. They hardly went to school. If they did, they bailed out before the teachers could pronounce their names. They are victims of a dysfunctional society.

“A society that flagrantly advances and celebrates the wealthy regardless of the sources of their riches. A society where the government and the rich neglect the poor, except when it comes to attracting funds from donors, settling scores with real or perceived enemies, or rigging elections. The poor sleep where the night meets them – under the bridges, in broken down vehicles or abandoned or uncompleted buildings. They left home early, having been neglected by mom and dad, who were too busy hustling to make ends meet. They are usually part of a large family. Sadly, the poor procreate like rabbits, as if children were some divine respite from their deprivations.

“Poverty has no gender, no political affiliation, no religion and no tribe. It answers only to the calls of hunger and deprivations. That explained why the poor among us latched onto the recent peaceful #EndSARS protests to lay claim to the commonwealth they have been deprived from. They looted warehouses, offices and homes, burnt down national and state edifices, and desecrated traditional heritage….”