As the heat around the #EndSARS intensifies, there is the conversation around the reason why people are protesting and calling for a permanent end to the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS). Some say it is for clout, others claim it is from a genuine place of concern for progress.
Force PRO, DCP Frank Mba in a live interview on Channels TV Friday, called it an opportunity for people with bad intent to carry out heinous crimes.
— Instablog9ja (@instablog9ja) October 9, 2020
All of these reasons do not dispute the fact that there is a problem that needs immediate solutions. With protests picking up heat since yesterday, Nigerians are sending a resounding message and making their voices count. The question of the intent of protesters is besides the point and an unnecessary deflection from the fact of these protests.
Join the protest for anything.
Join for clout, join for food, join for anything.
just stay on message.
— Tech Bro (@OdunEweniyi) October 9, 2020
We have seen this diversionary tactic from protests around the world; most recently the Black Lives Matter movement. We saw as United States law makers and government officials expressed more concern for the statues that were struck down by protesters (despite the racist history of those statues). We saw them prosecute protesters on the ground of domestic terrorism while the perpetrators of the crime that brought about the protests in the first place walked free.
Many of us are seeing a remarkable wave of change and boldness from Nigerians who will no longer sit back and watch a domestic terror continue for as long as it wanted. These protests are important not just for this current situation that continues to find firm ground in its undivided message, but for the way we will begin to approach harmful systems in the country.
So it scarcely matters if anyone is marching just to gain clout or increase their social importance. It doesn’t matter if some people’s activism isn’t inspired from a place of genuine care. And as far as protests go, there are bound to be opportunists and people with bad intents.
The point here is to face the problem, because all of those would not exist if there weren’t an actual problem.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.