Given some pockets of harassment, intimidation and extortion which I witnessed on Ibadan-Ife highway some days ago, I found validation to my reservation towards the EndSARS protesters. As one whose calling requires to permanently pit his tent on the side of the oppressed masses, I should ordinarily show enthusiasm to the struggle.
But I was resistant to that urge and maintained the late Chief Bola Ige’s siddon look posture. While the social media was turned to theatre where war between protagonists and antagonists was and is still fought, the much I did was to read and go without any serious attachment to the subject.
It’s not that I am uninterested in a new Nigeria, a new country where decent living would no longer be a luxury to an average Nigerian; where government would be accountable to Nigerians; where security agencies would treat suspects with respects; where university students would not be subjected to long break due to lecturers protest; where hoodlums would not be instruments of elections and equivalent of ballot papers; where roads and other basic infrastructural facilities are religiously maintained to serve Nigerians needs.
It’s not that I am enemy of progress. Not at all. My concern which was indeed my fear, however, was the danger I saw in the protest to degenerate to chaos, break down of law and order and total anarchy. I was first justified last Saturday when the Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola was reportedly attacked and almost killed while addressing the band of protesters in Osogbo, the Osun State capital.
Upon reading the report, I asked myself ‘is that attack also EndSARS struggle?’ Was Oyetola a member of SARS before he joined politics to have merited such attack?’ The chaps I engaged on Wednesday from Bolowaji to Odo-Oba and other Ibadan interiors confirmed my fear with their free reign of terror, exuberantly extorting money from helpless road users.
I enjoyed my interaction with them because they offered me more insight into what is awaiting us if right reaction is not given to their escapades. In the past five days, what started like fun protest slipped into wrong hands and arson became the result. Loss of lives and property has been recorded in Lagos, Ibadan and other places.
What that bitter tale means ultimately is simple. Many are going to lose their jobs, many are going to be exposed to more hardship. Government needs to act decisively to avoid a situation whereby Nigeria is reduced to kingdom of anarchy.
I am personally delighted that after the end of the whole smoke, our public office holders would no longer engage in crass displays of opulence with which they are notorious. The EndSARS has triggered public anger to be directed at them by streets boys at every slight opportunity they have. In that case, our public office holders are now as vulnerable.