This is not what I wanted to talk on today. Like most people would know, the topical issue ought to be lessons picked from the uprising by our youthful population, which by every good reason is only suspended and not called off. The reasons the protest took on a life of its own are endemic and systemic; they are not issues that anyone can wish away or deal with by way of superficial inducements, inductions, or surface appeals. The resolution of the contradictions involved is fundamental to the making of the nation and must be addressed from that perspective if sustainable results are to be gotten.
It is not about taking young ones into public positions in such debasing, selective manner and getting them enmeshed further in this nasty, brutish system which the preceding generation has succeeded in implanting in our society since Independence in 1960. Revolutionary leaders know such approach does not work, rather it ends up throwing up more societal and public office misfits, who almost end up inflicting more harm on the population and the larger society in that order. You can’t for instance talk of placing political inclusiveness way above economic emancipation of the young and then retire to the background, clapping and throwing a party, erroneously that you have found the solution. It will blow up and cause far greater damage. Agriculture, industrialisation and non-interest business capital are fundamental infusions if our youths must find rest and joy.
This is the kind of thought I had wanted to deal with here today. Though our leaders hardly read, one has to go ahead to do what is necessary to satisfy the conscience that from your little corner, one found strength to give his society and people his best when it mattered most. All what one had in mind would not be at least this week because of the same wrong approaches by small men among us, which have taken our society to where we are in panic mode with development retarded with life cheap, short and nasty. May be next week I will deal this.
Our society has been under tension precipitated by our young ones rising and saying enough is enough to bad governance and abuse of citizens’ human rights. Various kinds of devastations have been inflicted on the society in the last few days; citizens have been killed and properties destroyed. After over two weeks, the government is managing to restore calm, peace, law and order. Expectation of any true lover of this society and her people would be that all and in particular the leading voices should try to promote return to full normalcy by way of understanding and then empathy, followed by practical assistance; unfortunately this is not what has happened, rather we are seeing instances where beginning from those in power and authority people are striving to cash in on the unfortunate development. Religious and ethnic hegemony, which many among us believe are mainly responsible for lack of progress in the nation, are the two issues at the root of the protest that just hit us.
President Buhari whose high level nepotism in government has not helped matters led the pack of wrong-headed reactions when in his broadcast to the people said that his quick acceptance to do away with police Special Anti-Robbery Squad ( SARS) gave his government away as “weak.” He used the sentence “will not be tolerated,” more times than he employed words of appeal and empathy. He was more concerned about “national unity” for a society he has not done much to mould into a country let alone a nation. I don’t know if this president who is obsessed with national unity does sit down at all to look at the pictures and dressing of those who surround him often. If he did and truly believes in unity his actions would definitely be different.
In place of objectively examining the protest and ascertaining why it was such a huge development even if sponsored, voices from the north have tried to link protest to a plot by the south to truncate the rule by one of their own. They hold on to this line of thought without telling us how such could be when the north controls all apparatchiks of state coersion and how the south would benefit from truncating an eight-year tenure that has ran very far. Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State on an international television ran with the two views already mentioned, yet in his state food palliatives delivered by the federal government to cushion hunger among the indigent people in his jurisdiction were still held up in a warehouse many weeks after issues associated with COVID-19 had began to die down.
Chief of Staff, Nigeria Army, General Buratai, during the week just ended, was in his crudest elements blowing hot air. He gave statements suggestive of a coup intent, warned officers and then said they will continue to “act” regardless of international community’s concerns. Last week, I said here that our security personnel now sound like politicians in public offices. In places where good sense matters and where protocol of power means something, conversations of the Army Chief with his commanders should not be of public interest at all, it can only be when dictatorship creeps in and this we suspect, otherwise soldiers can’t be the front line force for engaging unarmed protesters.
In midst of thinking through all that I mentioned above, the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) came into the news for the wrong reason again. Recall that it just reworked her Code of Operation during which it increased amounts payable as fines from a few hundred naira to millions. Last week, the protest, especially the killings in Lekki area of Lagos, provided it another avenue to fine Arise, Channels and AIT televisions for using what the commission termed “unverified video sources.” I saw the Director General bellowing in a voice and manner you would think he was more suited for a job of regimental sergeant major (RSM) in the army.
I learnt he was a governorship aspirant in the Kwara State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC). If indeed it is true then one can see why things are what they are in our society. He said: “How can you people take videos from a DJ”, and the question is who told him media can’t take materials from anybody so long it is found to be a true reflection of an event of interest. Ignorance can be very dangerous. NBC alluded to fake video yet after denials the Nigerian Army has come out to admit they it sent sent troops to the location. Even the world best media organisations would screen videos of more serious developments and inscript the words “amateur video” yet no hell is made out of it. That statement alone proved lack of qualification for such a sensitive job. NBC should be more of administrative and correctional rather than punitive.
The Nigeria Press Organisation should insist that none of the organizations pay that fine and in fact that NBC returns to her core assignment. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right, provided for in Section 39, subtracting from it from the back such as NBC seeks to do is a threat capable of doing everybody in and as such should be fought with vehemence.
Sane societies that appreciate what robust conversation can do insist that no law should take away anything from free speech. In our case there is this delight to gag the people and it has always come through when we have northerners on the saddle – remember Buhari, Babangida and Abacha. It is happening again now, and not just limited to the central government but most political players from the core North are talking and supporting gagging in one form or another. They want CAN chained, churches taken over, formal media regulated and social media encumbered over what they term fake news.
It is not only northerners that have ruled this country while social media existed.
Obadanjo and Jonathan have ruled and they did not have to change laws to abridge free speech. Everyone spoke and yet the society didn’t go to pieces. Our society will not burn because of what citizens say but rather because of reckless actions of our leaders, particularly those without vision, who are selfish and whose forte is found in fanning embers of religion and tribalism. Those are the people we should warn, not the people.Set featured image
Those over-fixated with «national unity» should let their actions speak louder than their words. It is wrong to foreclose dialogue in a plural society and still want one perspective to hold sway; it will not work. To start with NBC should reverse itself on the issue of fine especially now that military presence in Lekki validates the video. Then those who think they can appropriate our society by force should also have a rethink. Those are the core messages the young have passed on to their fathers.