#EndSARS and Igbos: Nigerians still don’t see divisive tactics when it is glaring

Endsars

About three months since the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful protesters. More than three months since government thought of ways to disperse peaceful protesters and used angry Nigerians (popularly called thugs, hoodlums) to infiltrate the protests and cause mayhem. Three months since some Nigerians and the government called the protests an insurrection. Three months now, the #EndSARS protests may be reincarnating.

Conversations on another #EndSARS protest have gone on for days now since popular #EndSARS protesters, Rinu Oduala and Temitope Majekodunmi – youth members of the Lagos judicial panel – went all out disagreeing with the decision of the panel to reopen the Lekki tollgate, saying investigations on the event that took place at the tollgate has yet been concluded.

The conversations gained momentum when Nigerian youth on social media sensed foul play on the part of the panel and agreed that the panel was indeed playing to the script of the Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who himself has questions to answer.

But then, the most popular tactic of Nigerian politicians has been used once again, and the #EndSARS protest may be seeing more divisively opinionated Nigerian youth than will motivate people to come out for another protest.

The grounds on which some of the anti-End SARS enthusiasts walk on is that the protests that took place in 2020 gave room for destruction of property across Lagos and Nigeria. Their argument is premised on the ideas that another protest is another opportunity to cause mayhem.

In another view, it is the idea that another protest will empower IPOB members to attack the personality and interests of Bola Tinubu, who is perceived to own Lagos and everything in it.

In yet another sub-department of the Buhari cult, it is that the protest is unnecessary as the president has been magnanimous enough to allow protesters an opportunity to air their grievances, same which are being worked on.

It is a litany of reasons the anti-End SARS devotees give and the trends #DefendLagos and #DemNoBornYourPapaWell are the tools used to pass their message.

In this trends, you will see Nigerian youth – and the others – arguing that Igbos (specifically IPOB) have always looked for an opportunity to be bad boys in the disguise of showing their anger, and this is just one big chance they don’t want to miss.

The conversations have degenerated into ‘chase the Igbos away‘ and we already have a bandwagon who think this is a good idea. The people who push this agenda have the numbers, so already have loud voices.

#EndSARS
#EndSARS

We could argue day and night if another protest should take place, but the conversation will always be blurred out by ideas that Igbos are the cause of Nigeria’s problems that the protest seeks to upturn. This is not news – religious and ethnic wars have been in the pockets of Nigerian politicians, who unleash same when ‘it is time’.

It is happening again. #EndSARS used to be about Nigerian youth coming out of their comfort zones to say no to police brutality, say no to poor salaries paid to police officers, say no to police discrimination along social class lines. This time, it is Nigerian youth saying no to reopening the tollgate, the scene where Nigerian youth lost their lives, many others injured. This unified attempt at positive change has moved grounds now and we should not be surprised.

You may argue that some Nigerians have been paid to cause this division, bringing up unbelievable arguments in this light. But, you do not have evidence. In fact, it may just be concerned Nigerians who think another protest may turn bloody again. But, the introduction of ‘Igbos’ as war enthusiasts is evidence enough that there are people who are keen on ensuring another protest does not take place. People who will do just ‘anything’ so their interests are protected.

Ethnicity has flourished because the Nigerian elites who inherited the colonial state have conceptualised development as transferring resources from civil public to primordial public. It is in this view that Cletus Umezinwa argued that Nigeria is a failed state, backing his opinion up with a number of factors that included cultural and value decadence, fragile political structure, poor leadership and frequent ethno-religious crisis. Conflicts in Nigeria most often link with religion or ethnicity, and mostly deplored to settle economic and political imbalances; breeding the evolution of ethnic militias such as the Bakassi Boys; Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB); Odua People’s Congress (OPC), Egbesu Boys; Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND); Arewa Forum; Yandaba; Boko Haram; Ombatse group; etc.

Foresight for Development

Nigerians usually see this divisive tactic but ignore it or agree with it. “Igbos are war mongers”, “Hausa/Fulani are kill mongers”, “Yorubas are deceitful” and all the other narratives we see on our screens.

February 13th is the date chosen to start another protest. Which side are you on?

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