What is this uncommon protest, you must be wondering? This powerful protest we must embark upon urgently is against the two demons bedeviling us as a people in Nigeria – the demons of indiscipline and impunity. These demons are king in Nigeria. They live, rule, reign amongst and within us. They are very influential in our lives as a people.
Nigeria has experienced several dozens of protests since the Aba Women’s Riot of 1922. The first in her 60 years of independence was the ‘wetie’ violent protests that gave birth to the Western Region’s description of being the ‘wild wild west’. The longest of Nigeria’s cocktails of protests was the one that broke out after the criminal annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, which was overwhelmingly won by Chief M.K.O. Abiola. The pain of that series of protests lasted for three months and the cost of government’s high-handedness and headiness, with respect to the demands of the protesters, will never be quantifiable till the end of time.
The most recent of Nigeria’s catalogue of protests is the ones tagged as #EndSars. Its sweet and sour memories will remain fresh in the minds of Nigerians for years to come. The needles loss of lives and the wanton destruction of properties in the wake of the Black Tuesday of that protest will forever remain a dent in the history of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, whose security strategists employed unsavory tactics to break the will of the protesters. Each of the numerous protests in the annals of Nigeria’s history was triggered by the age-long principle of cause and effect, but none of them ever delivered the genuine expectations of the protesters or helped to inspire better leadership across the nation.
I have never been a fan of protests in Nigeria. My stand against protests is not because I see protests as powerless or unnecessary in the pursuit of the people’s quest for better leadership and governance. I am not a fan of protests because I am convinced that Nigerian leaders are too obsessed with power and are terribly empty of the milk of kindness that enables leaders to feel the pulse of protesters. Wherever leaders are power drunk and are ready to go to any length to preserve their offices above their names or legacies, protests are always born to fail.
There is however an unavoidable exception to my ‘find a better alternative to protests rule’. That vital exception has irrefutably proven to me that if Nigeria will ever be rescued from her fast trip towards collapse, there is an all-important protest we must individually and jointly agree to launch as a people.
This crucial protest is more difficult than any protest that has been embarked upon in Nigeria before. I found myself swayed in favour of this protest because it is totally different from the normal protests we are used to, even though it is much more difficult in context and application. But difficult as it is, it doesn’t require the protesters to file out on the streets and in the sun or rain to put their requests across. It doesn’t require them to wait on any president, National Assembly, governor, the army or the police for approval to launch.
Like all other protests, this protest has a purpose, which is to bring real change to our lives and to our hemorrhaging country.
Like all other protests, there is an authority we are protesting against. The motif is equally to stir up positive responses and actions that will lead to the attainment of desired objectives. But unlike all other protests, the protesters and the evils they are protesting against are both one and the same in every material particular.
What is this uncommon protest, you must be wondering? This powerful protest we must embark upon urgently is against the two demons bedeviling us as a people in Nigeria – the demons of indiscipline and impunity. These demons are king in Nigeria. They live, rule, reign amongst and within us. They are very influential in our lives as a people. From the people on the thrones to the boys and girls on the roads, their command and control is incontrovertible.
Indiscipline is lack of regard for discipline or control. It is total abhorrence of respect for rules, law and order.
Impunity is the assurance that no repercussions, penalty or punishment will follow wrong actions or deeds done. Indiscipline and impunity are the joint undertakers of the destinies of failing and flailing nations. They are the burial grounds of greatness. They are the highways to individual and class ignominy.
The demons of indiscipline and impunity produced the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) that the Nigerian youths have been speaking out against since 2017. They govern the powers that established the SARS ideology and the leaders who consistently discountenanced the cry of the masses on the horrors of SARS officers and men. The leaders who unleashed the army on peaceful protesters, as well as the hoodlums that took over the #EndSars protests, looted public and private stores and warehouses and burnt down national assets, were all directed by them. The demons of indiscipline and impunity have been the governors over most of the leaders who led Nigeria to this precarious and shameful place we are now in as a nation, despite the promise of greatness that Nigeria has been professing for 60 wasted years. An X-ray of the stewardship of these leaders clearly expose the tracks of greatness truncated by the bulldozers of indiscipline and impunity.
Many Nigerians know the character and traits of these demons but they love to live in denial of their influence over them. But the harder we try, the more the demons take deeper roots in homes, families, organisations, communities, societies and our country at large.
Indiscipline and impunity are at the root of majority of our problems as a people. From refusing to obey traffic rules and traffic lights, to all forms of cutting corners to gain advantage over others, the demons guide our actions. From preferring to open opportunities to only people of our faith, tribe and tongue, greasing palms to gain favours or escape retribution, to flagrantly denying others of their rights because we feel their destinies are under our whims, these demons govern our character and behaviour. Impunity and indiscipline are the reasons for the lack of excellence in all aspects of the Nigerian life. They are the brains behind infrastructure budgeted for but not built at all or built way below the agreed quality. They are the reasons for the inefficient civil service that is driving corruption astronomically in Nigeria. They are the ones that blinded our political leaders and those who run our bureaucracy from seeing the possible greatness that Nigeria can achieve and committing totally to it.
Nigeria is reputed to be a nation of religious people. But the spirits of indiscipline and impunity do not have any regard for our claim to be religious. When we go to Mecca and Jerusalem in our many annual pilgrimages, the demons follow us to laugh at us, knowing fully well that we lack the courage to divorce them and live lawfully, orderly and truly godly life.
They are not bothered whether we go to our churches and mosques every day and pray a dozen times each hour. They know that in them we live and move and have our existence as a people. They are the ones which strengthen our hands to kill and shed the blood of our fellow citizens without any modicum of compassion. They are the powers behind our fight against common sense and reasoning in all our deeds. They are the inspiration behind the banditry, terrorism, armed robberies and pen robberies in our land and high offices. They are the one who harden the hearts of kidnappers across our land, as well as deaden the emotions of the kingpins that are the power behind their blood business.
The activities of the demons of indiscipline and impunity in our lives and societies are not difficult to discover. From the international airport, they rudely welcome every visitor into our country with their manifestations in our performances. The gatekeepers at every entry point into our country reveal these demons to visitors in their acts and deeds. The public, private and commercial drivers on our roads, no matter their levels of education or experience, confirm their dominance in their behaviours. Our government offices and officials expose the grip of these demons over them through their lack of professionalism and sense of duty in their conducts. These demons roam freely in the lodge of our governors and the villas of our presidents and are never afraid to bear their fangs at anyone in sight. The tribalism and nepotism that have destroyed the administration of the federal character policy in governmental affairs are products of indiscipline and impunity.
The demons of indiscipline and impunity are the engine and accelerators of corruption in Nigeria. They are the causes of greed, avarice, malpractices and the culture of mediocrity ravaging us as a people. If we do not show the requisite concern, interest and passion to dethrone the reign of indiscipline and impunity in Nigeria, they will both suck life out of the country in no time, through their offsprings and siblings. And if and when they do, we will all suffer the consequences of sitting on the fence.
Who shall separate us from indiscipline and impunity in Nigeria? Only two people can perform the miracle or magic. These two people hold the key to Nigeria’s survival. Who are these two powerful people? I call them the saviours of Nigeria. The long awaited messiahs of our national deliverance are you and I. If you would consciously resolve to deliver yourself from the demons of indiscipline and impunity in the interest of our country and her generations unborn. If I also simultaneously and consciously resolve to deliver myself from these demons, then we can jointly start to build a truly great nation. We have lost so much grounds to these demons already, to the point that we cannot afford to delay any longer. The best time for you and I to make our resolve to kill indiscipline and impunity in our lives and nation is now. To fuel our protests to success, you and I must shun every form of indiscipline and impunity consciously, courageously, sincerely and permanently. We must understand that waging this protest individually is not going to give us the desired outcome and victory.
Each one must tell someone close to them about these demons and open their eyes to how important they are in achieving the set out objectives. You must tell someone dear to you about the mission. You must encourage them to tell everyone who is precious to them that Nigeria’s victory over the greatest enemies of our nation (the demons of indiscipline and impunity) requires the efforts of you and I. Let the protest begin now! You don’t have to be afraid of the police, army or DSS because these demons also hurt them as it hurts you. They know it even though they will not easily admit. You don’t have to be afraid of the Presidency and the National Assembly because they know they are also in danger on the long run, because the demons also dwell amongst their ranks. Boldly, we must all march out indiscipline and impunity from our dear native land. We can conquer these demons if we try. We can exorcise them out of our beings if we are determined and united in our protests. God will not move until we are ready.
Olanrewaju Osho is a development advocate, change architect, UN road safety advocate, author and international relations expert. He was a senatorial candidate for FCT in the 2019 elections on the platform of ANRP. He is also a member of the New Nigeria Project.