By Kehinde Shaibu
On behalf of the young people of Nigeria, let me make this clear at the onset of this piece: when the time comes, we will remember. We will remember the people that spoke up against the police brutality that has been meted out on my fellow youth for many years.
We will remember the voices, many of them, who had much to lose, who spoke up in support of our cause. We will remember the low-income foot soldiers who took to the streets. The middle-income earners who donated from their savings to provide us with food, placards, posters, legal services and paid for our medical bills. We will remember the university students that drove this campaign — with their posters, their chants, their energy, and their marches across the nation.
We will remember our politicians. Those of them that think that they can remain silent in the face of a mass legitimate movement. We will remember those of them that think that when 2022 comes around, they can come knocking on our doors to seek our votes in 2023. We will remember those of them that believe that we are only making noise. We will remember former Vice-President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who strongly condemned the use of force on protesters. We will remember the former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who seemed to understand that this protest is a manifestation of the frustrations of Nigerians and called on the Buhari government to exercise restraint and heed to our demands to #EndSARS. We will remember the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, who challenged the inspector General of Police to ensure that SARS officers that commit crimes are punished and helped to free prisoners that were unjustly detained in Surulere. We will remember Honourable Akin Alabi, who filed a Motion on the floor of the House of the Representatives calling for the disbandment of SARS. We will remember Governor Seyi Makinde who urged the peaceful protesters on, and called on the police to allow them to pursue their constitutional right to assemble. We will remember these names and many others.
The people we will also not forget are the previously powerful voices like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a man who has the President and Vice-President’s ears who always seems to comment on every issue, but was surprisingly silent on this one. We will remember the Governor of Zamfara, Bello Matawalle, who rose in defence of SARS. We will remember the Minister of Youth and Sports who insinuated that the peaceful protesters that were hurt by the police in Oyo State were ‘hoodlums.’
Of course, we will remember our President, Muhammadu Buhari. His legacy is being defined by the hour due to his inaction in the face of this campaign. We will remember our Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, a pastor who spoke on the issue, yet seemingly did nothing to call for the end of the use of force on protesters. We will remember the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, for remaining silent throughout this ordeal.
We will also remember our entertainers. Those of them that came out in full support. Davido in Abuja. WizKid in London. Falz and Small Doctor in Lagos. Burna Boy, who flip-flopped, but still came around with billboards. Naira Marley who stirred our hopes, then backed down and was seen schmoozing with the spokesperson of the Nigerian Police Force on Instagram Live. Mr. Macaroni, who stood at the Gates of Government House in Alausa for 72-hours — to draw attention to our cause. Best believe, for better or for worse, we will remember.
We will also remember our businesses and business leaders. We will remember PiggyBank and Flutterwave — heroes the took a stand. We will remember all our other banks and financial institutions as cowards who did not remember to stand with millions of youth. We will remember Ibukun Awosika, a mother who serves as the Chairman of First Bank, who reminded everyone when she did not have to that the SARS issue is a “problem crying out for an immediate solution.”
We will remember those that remained on the fence. The billionaires who are quick to rush to support government causes. The bigwigs who beg for attention, whose lips were suddenly sealed. The companies that live off government patronage who were afraid to speak. When the time comes, we will remember.
All of you that have taken a stand, through your actions or inaction, this is not a threat, it is just a reminder for the next time that you choose to advertise your products to us, or sell your candidacy to us, or urge us to pay attention to you in someway. When the time comes and we ignore you, like you have ignored us, remember that we told you that we will always remember.
-Kehinde writes from Ogbomosho, Oyo State-
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