By Chika Otuchikere
Nigerians have for once, risen to the occasion against a cold-blooded and merciless establishment. The Special Anti-Robbery Squad SARS is a symbol of the brutality and insensitivity of successive governments against the Nigerian people. The last time Nigerians rose to defy a government or its institution under a civil rule was the wrongly intentioned uprising against former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s government. The people, in the likeness of the Roman publicans, and like swarming locusts, flooded the major streets of the nation’s capital demanding the ‘banishment of Jonathan from the Aso Rock seat of power and replacement with the messianic, ‘Incorruptible’ military General and former dictator, Muhammadu Buhari. Eventually but unfortunately, they succeeded in ousting Jonathan and installing Buhari, armed with all the promises the General’s handlers dished out to them in a mirage platter.
After Buhari was sworn-in and for over six months he did not find his voice to name his cabinet members and aides, the upbeat Nigerians who sacrificed Jonathan for him on the altar of falsehood and propaganda began to sense trouble. Even then, they did not realize the ‘one chance’ roller costal they just boarded. Before their very eyes, they began to see the All Progressives Congress (APC )government of President Buhari reincarnating all the atrocities for which they sent Jonathan to his political Golgotha. In the very first few months, the government hiked the pump price of fuel and electricity tariff in one fell swoop. Nigerians then were too tongue-tied to question why the astronomical hikes. Many of the government’s diehard supporters consoled themselves with the refrain “well, if the hikes will guarantee regular fuel supply and uninterrupted power supply so be it”. They did not reckon with the spiral effect of increasing the prices of those two major commodities. Suddenly, prices of every commodity in the market began an uphill climb.
Rather than the government seeking ways to arrest what many feared would become an economic catastrophe, Buhari resorted to looking back like the biblical Lot’s wife and turning the country potential into a Lifeless pillar of salt. He no longer remembered all the promises he made to Nigerians on the strength of which they railroaded him into power, but began to remember all the things that the previous government did and did not do and started blaming that government for the ills that were fast becoming the fate of Nigerians and the country. He had told Nigerians that he would end the era of medical tourism on assumption of office, but no sooner had he assumed office than he went off on a medical sabbatical to, God knows which country. Nigerians were beginning to fear for the whereabouts of their president when he suddenly remembered that he had a capsizing ship of state to navigate to safety. He returned to the country only to disappear again shortly after for another medical tourism. He also continued his buck passing because, of course, he did not know how to explain to the people that they could not invoke uninterrupted people supply within six months in office as promised.
The worst tragedy that befell the country was when the currency began a free fall landing the naira exchange rate to almost N1000 to a dollar at the black market. It was still blamed on the previous government. Meanwhile, life became extremely unbearable for so many Nigerians that many began to contemplate and do the unthinkable; many in Lagos began to jump into the lagoon of the third mainland bridge on suicide missions to end their misery. The naira disaster was followed shortly by an economic recession. Even after the government announced, months later, that the country had come out of the recession, the people continued into the higher degree of recession known as economic depression. That’s where the country is still at but a fitting name for the state the country is facing currently is “a failed state”. Not omitting that the mismanagement of the economy by the present administration which has earned Nigeria the ignoble position of the “Poverty Capital of the World” with the country having the largest number of persons living in extreme poverty than in any other country.
Needless to mention also that poor handling of the country’s security challenges has also labeled the country as one of the most dangerous places to reside in the world. The president obstinately refused to fire his service chiefs even after all the sectors and geopolitical regions of the country (his own north where majority of the service chief belong inclusive) have called on him to relieve them of their duties. As I write, just last week, while presenting the 2021 budget proposal, President Buhari announced that the country has sunk into another spell of recession. Few weeks before this announcement in which he said this recession will have greater adverse effect that the previous, the president hiked again, the electricity tariff by more than 100 per cent and fuel by nearly 50 per cent. Nigerians were determined to stage a ‘Mother of all protests but did not again after the spearhead of the protest, the Labour Unions backed down in a move many Nigerians described as turncoat. Without doubts the recession will unleash greater mayhem on the masses.
The present #EndSARS protest will not be complete if Nigerians end it at #endSARS. Nigerian can kill many birds with this one stone. We cannot continue to tolerate corrupt leaders who only get a pat on the back after they are caught; this protest should be extended to insist that all the security chiefs who have superintended over the wanton killing of innocent Nigerians by Boko Haram, kidnappers, bandit etc must be shown the way out of office and the current visionless leadership which has reduced the country to a pariah state in a space of five years must be given an ultimatum to roll up its sleeves and work us out of this present quandary or throw in the towel. Then and only then will the #EndSARS protests have a happy ending.