If you’re like me, the question “What Can We Do?” prior to the events of the last few weeks, had been laced with frustration, depression and the grudging acceptance of our reality of being citizens of a nation that has no regard for human lives. This was a question fueled by years of oppression by the very people who were sworn to protect our lives; years of national insecurity, systemic corruption and lack of infrastructure as well as the marginalization of those who are most vulnerable in society.
However, through the #EndSARS protests and the Lekki Massacre, the phrase “What Can We Do?” has taken all a whole new dimension for me, as I am sure it has for you. It represents hope for a “New Nigeria”, and it represents an entire generation of youths speaking out in one voice to change their country’s bleak reality. We have been called “lazy youths” and “children” by so many of the “old guard”, but I have never been so proud to be a Nigerian youth, as I have these past few weeks.
Thanks to the bravery of some young women and men who were at the frontline of the movement, we organized and mobilized peaceful protests across Nigeria and in the diaspora, raising close to ₦150 million naira with transparency and accountability. All without “leaders” of the movement, and if this is not a reason to be proud of my generation, I don’t know what else is. We certainly showed the country’s leaders how it should be done.
Like most people, I was a bit fearful during the first few days of the #EndSARS protests, but seeing the unjust killing of Jimoh Isiaq and many other brave youths, I was emboldened to join the protests both digitally and physically. I had friends and family that tried to dissuade me from joining because of the fear for my life. However, I could not in good conscience sit back and watch other people fight my fight. I can proudly say that I do not regret joining the protests because I saw firsthand just how peaceful, organized and empowering the protests grounds were. It was at the protests that the scales of oppression fell off my eyes and I started asking myself and those around me, “What can we do to sustain the change and revolution that has begun”.
Seeing the atrocity and the gross violation of human rights that occurred on Tuesday, October 20, 2020 (20.10.20), I was more encouraged to see that much more of these ‘lazy youths’ remained resolute and focused on the goal of ending bad governance in our country. We remained defiant against the institution that tried to gaslight us and, have begun building the necessary infrastructure that would secure our future. I began asking, “What next?”, “What can I do?”, “How do I contribute?”; questions that stoked the already lit fire in my belly. As an elder statesman, Mr. Atedo Peterside said during his interview with Arise TV, the events of 20.10.20 has woken up “a gentle giant” who had previously not participated in the political process in this country. This made me realise that we must be more strategic and become politically active for the change we want to see to happen.
As we have taken the ‘fight’ off the streets, I remind us that, you are not alone. When you get weary, remember that there are people who are also fighting to effect change in their little corners, from the grassroots, judicial panels and even on social media. If you are confused as to “what you can do”, I recommend following these pages on Twitter and Instagram @BudgITng, @TrackaNG, @feminist_co, @UdemeNG, @ProjectTNN, @EIENigeria, @CivicHive. These are just some of the pages that have educated me and also given me clarity on what I can do to contribute to the reformation of our country.
I also recommend following the National Assembly, and the State Houses of Assembly and hold your local council representatives responsible. Many of us may feel that we cannot wait till the next elections, but 2023 is closer than you think! For real change to occur, we must educate and equip ourselves to understand the importance of accountability. We must also register to vote, and play a part of the electoral process. Remember, DON’T JUST PROTEST, VOTE!
On a final and more personal note, it is a great season to be a woman. Whilst I recognise that the fight is not gender-specific, my respect for the women of the Feminist Coalition, knows no bounds and I thank them for empowering so many more women across Africa to Sòrò Sókè (Speak Up).
I enjoin all youths across the African continent and diaspora that the fight for good governance is not restricted to Nigeria, Congo, Cameroon, Tanzania, but to every single one of us. The inaction of our leaders to issues of oppression and other injustices is instructive and we must hold them accountable! As a people, we are blessed with rich natural resources and culture that should guarantee a blessed future, not a future laced with impoverishment, systemic corruption and oppression. We stand with one voice as we push for progressive change on the continent.
Till next time, remember that “What Can We Do?” is a phrase full of hope and endless possibilities. Stay safe, stay hopeful, keep effecting progressive change and remember to always SÒRÒ SÓKÈ!
For: Hippie In A Suit