A hero is a man who shines the light of hope on his people in darkest times. Thank you, Nigerian youth, for giving us hope. Nigerian will not forget your sacrifice, and for those who lost their lives, may their blood water the tree of freedom in Nigeria.
This is your first baptism of fire for the generation who did not witness the anti-sap riot of 1989 and the June 12 struggle. We did the same at a young age; imaginative graffiti, posters, and slogans, just like France in May 1968, where student organizations and labor unions moved for their desired change. Security agents killed most of our comrades; I saw with my eyes in Oshodi where the gunshot by an Abacha soldier decapitated an innocent citizen. We called an end to the Military junta and dictatorship in Nigeria. And that is why we got the current civil rule that is being hijacked by the same oppressors of yesterday. In those days, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) led the struggle. It baffles me when some youths say they don’t want the involvement or guidance of elders. Lanre Arogundade was 24 years old when he led Nigeria students against Buhari dictatorial regime in 1983. The same Buhari incarcerated Lanre and other students activists for demanding quality education and democracy. Remember Adeola Soetan in Ife during the Anti-sap and June 12 struggle, Olusegun Maiyegun, Naseer Kura, Anthony Fashayo Omoyele Sowore, Baba Aye, Francis Banji Abayomi, Ezenwa Nwagwu, Omoniyi Ibietan, Kunle Adegoke (Krad), and many others.
For today’s young people, your current struggle is not misplaced. You have an obligation to drive the battle and lead us out of the wood. In our time, we used leaflets, posters, megaphone, cell meetings, late-night covert moments, long-distance travel with trucks, and so on. Today, technology has changed everything. They can successfully coordinate this struggle with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and different kind of modern communication technologies.
Let me echo Shehu Sanni, the current generation of Nigerian youth does not take the order; they never experience military dictatorship. Most of these young people within the age of 16 – 30 were born in the age of Internet technology, the era of social media, where they can freely express themselves.
Overall, Nigerian youth, you are great, and you have made your point. The message is loud and clear; Nigerian youth want a place to call their home. Henceforth, politicians will begin to think twice. Meanwhile, It is time to restrategize; the looting, burning, and destruction must stop now. We know that those who diverted the COVID 19 palliative are the real looters. It would be best if you did not allow them to re-loot our commonwealth under the guise of rebuilding infrastructures destroyed during the protest.
Also, we know that every struggle comes with good, bad, and ugly sides. We saw it in the US, where some bad guys looted, destroyed, and burnt properties during George Floyd protests in May/June 2020. If it happened in the United States, where we thought the standard of living is far better, think of Nigeria, where young people have been dehumanized, pauperized, and criminalized by our so-called leaders.
I conclude by saying that a state grows with the might of his reign and the brave men’s loyalty and skills who offer their life in its service.
Dr. Oludare Ogunlana writes from Washington DC.