Phew! How has it been one year already?
One year since some saw their loved ones, hugged them, smiled at them, had a discussion, argued, made up…
One year of the Nigerian government denying any involvement one moment, and denying there was any such incident the next minute.
So what did happen? Through all the ‘noise’ on social and news media – those spun with an agenda and those pushed by the sheer horror of what young people continue to experience at the hands of the institutions built to serve and protect – we have seen undeniable fact of what happened. We’ve heard stories from victims’ families and seen survivors with gruesome scars left from gunshots fired from government supplied weapons by government paid officials.
It’s been one year and we still ask, ‘who ordered it?’ ‘how/when will victim families and survivors be compensated?’ ‘when will police brutality end?’ ‘when will politicians start to do what they were voted in to do?’
In the last one year, despite all the horror stories of police brutality which came to light and the live recording of indiscriminate and inhumane shooting that took place this time last year, nothing has changed in actuality.
Armed officers and politicians are still brutal, dishonest, greedy, self-serving and shameless. They all benefit immensely from impunity and the suffering of the masses.
The entire situation actually seems more gloomy than it did before October last year because before October, some of us lived in some form of ignorance but now, we know much more than we can digest. And the worst part of all? The knowledge that what we now know doesn’t even tip the iceberg of the rut in every sector of the country.
In October 2020, young people protested peacefully against police brutality and bad governance, especially against the notorious police branch created to tackle robbery but over the years, have become the robber, judge and executor themselves. The Nigerian youth showed up like never before – people providing free food in the thousands. Professionals providing their services for free from medical doctors to lawyers to drivers to mechanics, electricians and everyone else in between. The brave actions of this large group of people historically divided by tribe, language and religion lifted spirits and encouraged us all to move on till our demands are met. But then, in the midst of such a motivating, uplifting moment in history, the Nigerian government chose violence as the best response. The shameless, inhumane and brutal actions of both the military and police force led to tens of deaths during that weeklong protest and it all culminated in the deadly Lekki Massacre.
Last year, I was too torn to find the words to write anything about this. A lot was happening and I didn’t have the energy to delve into such a heavy topic. This year, I also don’t have the energy but for the sake of posterity, for those gone and for those remaining to always remember, I decided to write something.
My greatest hope is that when the citizens go out to vote in 2023, they remember. They remember who is for them and who is not. They remember that instant gratification will rob you of your future. They remember that together we are stronger, better and capable of much more than we can ever imagine.
©Ọrẹolúwa Matẹ̀milọ́lá 2021 All Rights Reserved