By Ike Abonyi
“The right to rebellion is the right to seek a higher rule, and not to wander in mere lawlessness” – George Eliot
There are numerous fallouts from the #EndSARS protest that engulfed Nigeria for over two weeks and still raging. Few of them interesting, but most of them are baffling and revealing. In all, what is glaring and not in dispute is that Nigeria as a country is not adding any value to her 60 years of nationhood.
There is no better area to start reviewing the #EndSARS protest than the nationwide broadcast of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the embattled nation, Muhammadu Buhari, nearly two weeks into the incident.
The broadcast came belated and showed in its content and delivery that the President was reluctant and in grudge at the presentation. Perhaps, the only people not disappointed at the broadcast were those who never expected much positives from it.
All those who persuaded and cajoled the President to talk believing that his talking will assuage a lot, became ‘speechless’ according to the witty Kaduna born civil society activist and former Senator, Shehu Sani.
Even the protesters who thought they were revolting to force government to adjust to their terms gave up after the broadcast. It was after the broadcast that the bewildered #EndSARS group got deflated and had to change their direction to looting of warehouses across the country in apparent demonstration of their frustrations. The key fallouts of the entire protest, the open shooting of protesters at Lekki tollgate on a Tuesday night of October 20, 2020 was not given a mention in the President’s broadcast.
One of the curious fallout of the #EndSARS protest was the discovery of the hoarding of palliative items. All along the allegations that government mismanaged the COVID-19 palliatives, and that it was meant to enrich a few, was vehemently denied.
But when the protesters began bursting COVID- 19 warehouses across the country and looting them, no further evidence was needed to establish the fact that it was grossly mismanaged. This was one of the few positive aspects of the revolt although it remains disheartening the insensitivity of our leaders to the pitiable plight of the poor in our midst. The other fallout from the novel protest was the harassment meted out to the strongman of Lagos politics, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu by the protesters.
Rightly or wrongly, dummy news went out after the Tuesday night shooting at the Lekki Toll Gate linking Tinubu to it, the angry protesters then felt going after him was their best options.
While he disappeared and went into hiding the protesters targeted his business interests leading to the burning of two media houses said to be owned by him, The Nation Newspaper and the Continental Television better known as TVC. This action of the protesters was needless and condemnable because the two sister media houses were actually by their contents very sympathetic to the #EndSARS stuff.
However, the arrogance displayed by Tinubu when he came out of hiding ‘Am still the Asiwaju of Lagos and the Jagaban of Borgu’ was to many discerning minds uncalled for and impenitent. His view that those at the Lekki tollgate have questions to answer was also insensitive and provocative.
The invasion of the Iga Idungaran Palace of the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, was another curious fallout. What is the connection of the Oba, a traditional ruler with the #EndSARS matter? Was it because he was once a police officer? But feelers coming out from the commercial city, link the Oba’s ordeal to his undue involvement in the politics of Lagos State.
He was too visible in all pro- Tinubu politicking that he was bound to ‘benefit’ from anything being shared to Tinubu. Recall his threat to Igbo to be thrown to the Lagoon if they vote against Tinubu’s choice for the gubernatorial election in 2019.
Incidentally, it was reported that the Oba ran for his dear life through the Lagoon when the angry youths arrived his palace. The rest is now history, but there are striking stories from the Palace, like the stealing of the symbol of the throne – the royal staff and the customized shoe among other royalty valuables. Lagos was indeed the epicentre of the protest expectedly but certainly not the only scene of the uprising.
The nation’s capital, Abuja, was very visible also. The hiring of some thugs to ensure the protest failed was more rampant in Abuja even though the drama was not as violent as Lagos. A hitherto peaceful state like Enugu was also visible as some hoodlums invaded the protest and began looting of public places including banks.
The peace loving Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, tried in vain to avert the protest but political enemies were on side fuelling the situation. The protest was an opportunity for political enemies to settle scores and this showed glaringly in Anambra State where failed attempt was made to link the notorious former Anambra SARS Commander one James Nwafor with the former governor of the state, Peter Obi, over Ezu iyi River massacre Nwafor, who was sacked as Security Adviser to Governor Willie Obiano in the wake of #EndSARS protest in the state, ostensibly to appease the protesters was cajoled to link Obi but he refused. Obi’s impeccable and rising profile has been worrying to his political enemies who searched endlessly for a dent. While Obi’s traducers wanted him to say that Obi directed him to carry out the killings, the man refused insisting he has not even met Obi in person.
This type of dangerous intrigue was one of the sour side of the protest. But easily the star drama from the protest was the emergence of two dangerous characters in the nation’s political space today. One Igbo the other a Yoruba all resident in the United Kingdom but they are all Nigerians by birth. They are Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), an Igbo youth group agitating for an independent State of Biafra from Nigeria and one Adeyinka Grandson of the Young Yoruba for Freedom (YYF), also a secessionist group agitating for Oduduwa Republic. Kanu and Grandson are no friends. Grandson dislikes Igbo with passion Kanu thinks anybody who is not supporting Biafra is an animal in a zoo called Nigeria. They have continued to propagate their dangerous views through video and audio broadcasts and enjoy the support of sizable number of youths in their ethnic groups.
The main striking similarity among them is that they all want an end to the entity called Nigeria using their own awkward method to achieve it. The duo jolted the nation during the #End- SARS protest with their careless and thoughtless outbursts. Kanu quick to take credit on an issue, rushed a broadcast after the attack on some facilities in Lagos last week claiming that the attack was carried out by his boys on his instruction. He said other unprintable things.
His ilk in Yoruba land, Grandson and his group immediately turned Kanu’s ‘heroic’ claim around to mean that Igbo were destroying assets belonging to Yoruba in Lagos to ruin their economy. Grandson had to make his own broadcast giving Igbo in Yoruba land 48 hours to leave or get annihilated. By this, arising from Kanu’s gawky statement, Ndigbo assets and lives were put in danger. Kanu was nowhere near Nigeria same as Grandson. It took the timely intervention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo President General, Chief John Nnia Nwodo and other Igbo leaders in Lagos to douse the rising tension and calm nerves by publicly disowning Kanu and his un-guardedness.
In July this year, in this space, I had asked, ‘Is Kanu helping Biafra struggle?’ The conversation then was on the way and manner the IPOB leader’s activities were undermining the corporate interest of Ndigbo in the contemporary Nigeria struggle with his continued altercation with Ohanaeze and Ndigbo leaders. After my article a truce was established between IPOB and Ohanaeze to achieve the desired Ndigbo agenda to the delight of many.
But since then Kanu has continued to veer off the curve latest being his #EndSARS outburst that would have endangered the lives and property of Ndigbo in the South-West and the North. Meanwhile, Kanu has no single asset in Nigeria. Kanu’s type in Yorubaland, Grandson, had to be interrogated in UK for his terrorist threat on Ndigbo for which many Yoruba leaders including their state governors have distanced themselves.
If Ndigbo therefore do not want to suffer what the Germans suffered for producing a son called Adolf Hitler supported by a propagandist Paul Joseph Goebbels, they should find a way of containing this young man called Nnamdi Kanu otherwise when the inevitable renegotiation of Nigeria state begins as the horizon is indicating, Ndigbo position will be disjointed; the voice will be incoherent. If Yoruba can disown their crazy Grandson, why not Ndigbo on Kanu before he destroys our youths and our land while relaxing from his safe haven. Udo diri unu.