If you wondered why Nigeria has been on fire this week, it is best you get the story from Fola Ojo, one of that country’s leading columnists.
Writing in Punch magazine, Ojo described Nigeria as a “nation roiling, boiling and burning” as youngsters take over the streets of major cities.
“They have come to a realistic conclusion that if true change will be etched in the spines of their country, it will come only through ordinary folks like them in concert with older fellows with gritty experiences and hearts of service; and never from incognisant and mythomaniac men in power whose gods are their bellies.”
Ojo wrote that “Nigeria exists only for a greedy and gluttonous few who are less than 1% of the population”, who then dish out soiled money to the remaining 99%.
“Man-made obstacles against good life and living in Nigeria are innumerable. They are fashioned into existence by men who have always been in power alongside their recycled cruel cahoots. The human obstacles are in the oppressive cabals and Nigerian elites.”
What began as a protest against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad – which is notorious for torturing suspects and conducting street executions – quickly turned into a revolt against the Nigerian establishment and the corruption that is so endemic in Africa’s most populous nation.
The security forces responded with callous force, mowing down peaceful protestors with live ammunition and brutally breaking up gatherings that posed no threat to public order.
As usual, African leaders were unmoved by the use of force by the Nigerian government. They took the cowardly way out by refusing to condemn the abuse of power by their peers. Instead of siding with the people who were at the receiving end of the iron rod, they apportioned blame equally.
In its official response, the African Union said that its “chairperson appeals to all political and social actors to reject the use of violence and respect human rights and the rule of law”, and called on all parties to “privilege dialogue”.
Well, it would be easy for the people of Nigeria to “privilege dialogue” if bullets were not being rained on them.
This episode marks another instance in which the leaders of Africa are failing the people who really matter – the citizens.