They Don’t Want You To Protest. But You Should.

March 27, 2019

In my truest form, I am a militant, bandana wielding, Fela face-tat having, protest-line leading fighter of the fucked up Nigerian system.    No political authority is too powerful, no public servant too untouchable and no worthy cause is too minor to go unrepresented.

Your boss attempting to make you work overtime without pay? I’m getting my megaphone. Lecturers insisting on an idiotic pass-fail rate for students? I’ll round up the troops. Streetlights and basic amenities unavailable in your locale? I’m starting a worthy petition.   If there’s any country that could do with a healthy dose of protests, it’s Nigeria. Hourly, daily, weekly, yearly, until some high-up’s agbada is soaked through with sweat from skirting around to meet our demands. And know who would be leading the charge? Yours truly.

In reality however, I am only a casual observer of the Nigerian institution. Voicing my disappointment and disgust behind the safety of a television screen or crafting carefully chosen words from my mobile phone, hardly daring to spell out even the slightest of criticisms for fear of facing the same fate as those too vocal against, too critical of, too anything but sycophant towards the Nigerian government.   As it currently stands, the Nigerian government has forgone its raison d’etre – the people, to become an all powerful agent, accountable primarily to itself. Magicking a turn-table, it has found a way to make itself a top, with the people being unwilling subs. The secret of its abilities? Good old suppression.

How do you prevent the people from gathering to speak against the shortcomings of your administration? Resorting to physical violence like firing live rounds on student protesters speaking against the arrest and detainment of El Zakzaky, or dispersing peaceful protesters of the BBOG movement with teargas to prevent their gathering seems to work just fine for the Nigerian government.

As it appears, only certain kinds of protests are favoured by the powers that be — those pliant and paid for.

Which is why the government has other measures in place to make sure the proles don’t deviate too far from the script.   Ever heard of the Cybercrime (Prohibition & Protection) Act 2015? You might want to check it out if you haven’t. This law, whose original purpose is cloaked in the “prohibition, prevention, detection and punishment of cyber crimes”, actually operates as a snare for intending and active critics of the government.

Its frightfully vague provisions impose a prison term of 3 months or a fine of up to 7 million to anyone causing: annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to another.

‘Another’ here being mostly higher-ups in power .Which is why arrests based on instances of government criticism on forums like Facebook, Instagram and even Whatsapp, as are becoming more and more common place in the Nigerian political landscape.

Take the case of Johnson Musa for instance. For posting pictures of Kogi State Governor- Yahaya Bello’s Abuja residence on a Whatsapp group, he was arrested by members of the SSS. Likewise, John Danfulani, whose Facebook post criticising the Kaduna State government landed him 13 days behind bars.

Even more ludicrous is the case of Joe Chinakwe, who, after taking out the frustrations of the current administration on his canine who he personified as he-who-must-not-be-apparently named, found himself serving considerable jail time. Same with Gambo Saeed, who was awarded 9 months in prison for his efforts in calling out Aminu Masari, the Katsina state Governor on social media. Likewise Audu Makori, who, having posted a false claim that Southern Kaduna students had met their ends at the hands of Fulani herdsmen (a statement which was retracted), suffered through a lengthy detainment by the government.

These gagging measures adopted by the government, devious as they are, have proven to be effective. Which is why silence greets a country where the president takes an unscheduled medical leave abroad for 103 days, while hospitals in his home country are relegated to incessant strikes and the use of mobile phones as a light source during major surgeries. Also explains why Computer departments in the country’s universities teach Fortran in its original form – in 2019 and why members of its Senate can go home with 13 million as their monthly salary, while 61% of Nigerians live on less than $1 a day.

Contrast this with countries like Algeria, where mass protests against their ailing 81 year old president – Abdelaziz Bouteflika, prompted his decision to desist from contesting his fifth term of presidency, despite being severely ill and confined to a wheelchair since 2013. Or the gilets jaunes or Yellow Vests’ protests in Paris which successfully led to the cancellation of proposed  plans by the French government to hike fuel tax rates. Even Nicaragua — whose militant youth is currently in the process of effecting a change from authoritarian leadership through incessant protests and objections to the oppressive leadership of its President – Daniel Ortega.

Protests are effective catalysts for change, Nigeria being no exception to the fact. The protests that crippled activities and forced the reduction of Nigerian fuel prices in 2002 being a notable example. It is also why the government is doing the most to threaten the strength in our numbers.

A threat certain Nigerians like Deji Adeyanju, Oby Ezekwesili and Dr Joe Odumakin are defying for the greater good.

Even though your name and mine may be missing from this list, it’s not too late to add our voices and play a role in holding Nigeria’s leader’s accountable.

 

 

 

 

For me, it’s no longer enough to mumble my best Yoruba curses behind my phone like I previously admitted, it’s time to act. Hopefully, you’re feeling the same way too, don’t let the man win.

You'll like this

March 26, 2020

If you have been diligently following the activities of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) then you remember the picture below: On the 19th of March, the NCDC announced a downtime on their Whatsapp channel because they were upgrading the capacity to better inform Nigerians on breaking news as regards Covid-19. Presumably, because of […]

Boyin Plumptre

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

Watch

Now on Zikoko

June 6, 2020

If there’s one book every Nigerian child read, then it would be My Book of Bible Stories. That book satisfied our need for colourful pictures, as well as our desire to be told a story. It was vividly illustrated, and it’s perhaps safe to say that every child who read it wanted to be inside […]

June 6, 2020

Nigerian photographers are definitely on the list of the most annoyed Nigerian demographic. Chances are you are probably guilty of at least one thing on this list. Read the list before you deny it. 1. “I know someone who can do it for cheaper price”. Then why are we here, please? You brought me all the […]

Recommended Quizzes

November 22, 2019

It can be very stressful when you’re trying to find the love of your life, but you only keep meeting people that are exactly like your yeye ex. To help you be more aware of that problem, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know the kind of people you are attracting. Take it to […]

November 15, 2019

There are two types of people in Nigeria right now: those who are proud Marlians, and those who are still in denial about stanning the divisive star. So, for those who proudly wear the Marlian tag, we made a quiz to test how well you really know Naira Marley. If you get more than 6 […]

October 30, 2019

Kemi Adetiba’s King of Boys movie got a lot of things right, especially casting, so yes, it was a monster hit. Now, we know you may not have put much thought to this, but the personalities of some of the characters closely match yours, and we would like to help you find the perfect match. […]

December 6, 2019

Have you ever been with someone so horrible that you swore to never date again? Yes? Well, do you know that one or more of your exes probably feels the same way about you? You never thought about that, huh? Thankfully, this quiz is here to let you know just how much of a hassle […]

More from Citizen

May 31, 2020

You might think this is an easy quiz, but I dare you to share it in your (family) WhatsApp groups; what’s that thing they say? “Breeze blow, fowl yansh go open.” Consider this quiz the proverbial fowl yansh. Nigeria has had an interesting number of leaders since independence in 1960 – some were bad, some […]

john boyega racist tweet george floyd
May 28, 2020

So far, every month in 2020 has given us its version of an uppercut to the jugular. We’ve lost Kobe and Gigi, a global pandemic broke out, we’ve had to stay isolated, murder hornets came back (then left?) and for May’s champion – repeated vile and racist attacks against black people in the US. John […]

May 22, 2020

In January 2020, Kay — awesome writer over at TechCabal, (Zikoko’s sister publication) spent a month in South Asia, touring the borders between Bangladesh and India. In preparing for this interview, I spent an inordinate amount of time getting lost in Bangladeshi cuisine, using maybe all of 3 minutes to learn about everything else (JK. […]

May 16, 2020

Have you ever been so scared for someone’s conscience, intercessory prayer starts hungrying you? Since May 7th, my recurring prayer point and the universal leader Governor of Rivers State – Nyesom Wike has seized and auctioned off over 20 civilian cars, convicted over 170 people and demolished 2 hotel buildings in his state. These were […]

May 15, 2020

For reasons best known to me (I’m bored, wistful and stir crazy, stuck at home with two sexagenarians), I have been dutifully spending a large percentage (I can’t say how large, this is a work post) of my day, researching the first few abroads I plan on living in when this whole ordeal is over. […]

Watch

Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.
February 6, 2020
Who doesn't want to find love? In our bid to help, we paired up a bunch of single Nigerians, sending them on an all-expense paid date, and interviewing them before and after they met.
January 27, 2020
Nigerians Talk is what happened when a motley crew of young Nigerians were put in front of a camera and asked a bunch of apparently random questions about life, love, money and more.
September 24, 2019
A group of Zikoko staff go on a road trip to every mainland country in ECOWAS West Africa
May 5, 2020
For the second season, we put an even more diverse motley crew of young Nigerians in front of a camera and asked them random questions about love, school experiences and more.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.