RANT SESSION EP 2: PROTESTS: HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Hello guys and welcome to another episode of “I clearly need a life”! 

Anyways, today’s topic is a very controversial and sensitive one. With the events that have recently been going on these past months, I find myself thinking: How did we get here? 

Where did we go wrong? What actually happened? Why and how didn’t we see it? Why couldn’t it be avoided? These are difficult questions to answer and before I give the opinion no one cares about, I want to warn you all that this article would contain sensitive topics to us, so if you cannot take it, it’s understandable. I’m sure I will have something better for you next time.

Now back to the topic, for us to answer it properly, we have to look at the kinds of protests Nigerians have gone through and their consequences. We have a significant amount of protests even if they are not much, but since I’m trying not to make you guys sleep, I will talk about the most significant ones.

One of the earliest popular protests is the “Aba Women Riot”. In case you have no idea what it is about, well, welcome to the club. We’re in the same shoes!!! Since I have researched, I will brief you on it in the simplest way. Around the early 1900s, the indirect system of ruling (a system used by the British colonial government to rule people through traditional leaders e.g. rulers or kings) was introduced to Igboland through Lord Lugard and this wasn’t really the smartest decision but are we actually surprised? Now, this system was used to appoint “warrant chiefs” (just a fancy name for leaders don’t worry). These warrant chiefs were not really popular amongst people, in fact, they were hated but they became powerful figures in the land. Due to this power, the chiefs became very oppressive within a few years. Wait!! Why does this story feel so familiar? To be honest, it reminds me of modern Nigerian and our wonderful govern- (coughs)

Okayyyyyy!!!! Back to the topic. I’m going fast forward a bit if that’s fine. So direct taxation on men was introduced in 1928 without any issues. However, this was short-lived as women were pissed that there would be an introduction of women to pay tax in Igbo society. Without the help of a widow named Nwanyereuwa, the riot would not have happened. Nwanyereuwa decided to find people who were also uncomfortable with the tax issue and this encouraged other women from other areas of the Bende district to speak out and join the movement. Approximately 10,000 women were involved and a protest insisting on the removal and trial of warrant chiefs was staged. This protest actually worked as it prompted the British administration to drop their plans to impose tax on market women and curb the power of the warrant chiefs.Although it sadly led to the death of 51 women and 1 man. Since the protest actually led to change, things were okay around this time.

Moving on, another protest occurred on the 29th of November 1947. This was led by the famous Madam Olufunmilayo Ransome-Kuti. It all started when she submitted a list of demands to the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Sir Ladapo Ademola II and one of the demands was the abolition of tax on women in Abeokuta amongst other issues. Okay, let me derail a bit, you would think that they would learn their lesson from the “Aba Women Riot” but since it’s Nigeria, they probably thought “hmmm, it didn’t work the first time, maybe it would work again”. They’re just a lovely bunch of…. Anyways, back on track, they were obviously denied (there’s a shocker) and Madam Olufunmilayo was arrested and fined for 3000 pounds or risk going to prison. Being the boss that she is, this did not stop her. She led a protest of 10,000 women to the palace of Alake of Egbaland. They stayed around the palace for more than two days, sleeping, cooking and living their best life on the palace grounds. The pressure was so huge that the colonial government had no choice but to abolish the tax laws and the Alake of Egbaland abdicated the throne on the 3rd of January 1949.

Now moving on to the SAP riots of 1989; this is when the government just decided to ruin our lives as Nigerians. This phase pisses me so much but okay, let’s calm down. Breathe in, Breathe out. There we go. This started because the federal government thought it would be wise to increase the meal ticket of students in tertiary institutions from 50 Kobo to 1.50 Kobo and then to N2.00 (isn’t it obvious today that this is the best decision Nigeria ever made?). This sadly led to the death of many students from the University of Lagos to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria by the army (another wonderful part of being a Nigerian).

This exact event led to a new Nigeria and I mean this in the absolute opposite way. We really didn’t know what this wonderful government had in store for us. When we thought “It can’t possibly get worse”, it definitely did and this showed in the End Sars Protest. Okay side note, I am going to be extremely careful and serious because this next part of the session has scarred us for life as Nigerians. If I ever joke then, I’m doing this because it’s just too sensitive. Let’s go.

October 8th 2020. The #EndSars protest. The thing that has traumatized Nigerians till this day. What happened during this time just showed how insensitive our government is. I think we all know what happened during these times and I don’t think anyone wants to relive it. The protest was simple and a peaceful one at that. The message: End Sars. We needed our freedom as youths in our country because it’s hard to attain that anywhere. But No. They decided to turn a peaceful protest that gave many Nigerian Youths hope into a massacre. You couldn’t just decide to be humans for once in your embarrassing lives and actually end Sars. You just had to end the lives of many hopeful youths because of the conventional idea that elders are always right and younger people cannot correct older people because we are always wrong. Just because of that traditionalist mentality, because you couldn’t take criticism, you decided to take the most inhumane action that I don’t think any leader in a democratic country would take. You killed people. People that actually believed in this government, just because of sentiment. Okay, I’m getting riled up, I cannot continue this part of the session. I might come back to this topic one day. I don’t know.

The last and latest one, the #June12 protest. The reason for this protest still shocks everyone to this day. It seems like special effects to me. I’m laughing thinking about it. I know. It’s not funny but I’m laughing because it is just ridiculous and I still cannot believe it. Anyways, most of us, if not all, already know about this story. Our wonderful President Buhari posted something that was against Twitter’s guidelines. Jack decided to do the right thing and take it down because it was inappropriate.  Buhari was pissed and it took our government less than 24 hours to ban Twitter. An App. An application they used to even promote themselves during elections. They took it down. All because the president couldn’t take criticism. This is the same government that is taking over 3 months to solve the recent kidnappings and killings in Nigeria. As the “lazy youths” we are and we reached a unanimous decision that we can’t be using VPN for the rest of our lives, so we decided to protest. Obviously, they tried to silence us, as usual, using tear gas but on the bright side, I guess our worst fears didn’t happen. So thank God.

Now the answer no one has been waiting for. Personally, protests were effective until the SAP happened. This event opened the eyes of the government. Since the protest did not lead to change and everyone went back to their normal lives, this made things clear for them. They found out that the worst thing that Nigerians could do no matter what was protest and in any case where the protests don’t work, we would do what we are good at which is adapt. This is not me condemning us as Nigerians, it’s not our fault that we always adapt to any situation no matter how difficult it is, that’s how we were brought up. It is our strength but is also our greatest weakness. This has been used against us and it still is because we still adapt. Our ability to adapt is sad because if we don’t, it would lead to the death of many others and we are trying to avoid that. This is mostly because we all know that we are alone as a country. In other words, as painful as is it to admit, most world organizations always turn a blind eye to us as usual and act like nothing happened (the #EndSars protest taught us that).

Sorry, this ended in a more serious tone. I did say I was going to be serious because the topic is too sensitive to joke about. If you have reached this point, I am shocked that you did but thank you. I would try and make sure I talk about a lighter topic next time. Who knows, I might alternate it. Now I am going to crawl back into my cave, never to be seen again until next time. Byeeee. 

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