October was an eventful month. It was the month Nigeria turned 60. It was the month that, for the first time in decades, a large number of us hone and abroad came together and peacefully protested against police brutality and calling for a police reform. It was the month that the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful protesters, killing over thirty and injuring many more. It was the month that many honest Nigerians experienced looting of their homes and livelihoods on an astronomical scale. It was the month we all found out that our government was hoarding Indomie.
I’ve never been more convinced of this as I was in the last couple of weeks: that living in Nigeria is a (mostly) traumatic experience. No doubt, there are brief exhilarating interludes and comic reliefs, but trauma abounds. And it is everywhere one goes. In many ways, Nigeria is a failed state. Sure, there are 1 or 2 percent who are eating gooood, and a (slowly dwindling) middle-to-upper class who can afford some comfort, but more than half of the country’s population cannot afford to spend #500 in a day. Education is in shambles, healthcare is in urgent need of resuscitation, we can’t seem to have uninterrupted power supply for some reason, the transport networks suck, the prices of foodstuff skyrocket everyday, insecurity plagues the nation in all regions, yet in the midst of all these the lawmakers most pressing agendas are regulation of social media ( a.k.a stifling freedom of speech) and renovating the NASS building.
Nigeria is now the poverty capital of the world, and it appears that the leaders want to keep it that way. To them, extreme poverty is not a problem, but a weapon to be used at the times of their convenience.
I wanted to write on something else, maybe something less heavy. But it feels weird to write about anything else. To talk about anything else. I’d get overwhelmed listening to news and switch everything off, then feel guilty for going back to my ‘normal’ life when there are so many people living in the same country as I do who are going through the eye of a needle. I go back online, I get overwhelmed once more. The cycle continues.
I wish it was a dream sometimes, I wish I could wake up from all this & be told that it was all a big nightmare. But people died in real life. People were murdered in cold blood all because they asked to not be murdered, and no one is taking responsibility. Some government official even had the audacity to publicly tell us “hoodlums in army uniforms” are to blame. The lies. The lack of accountability. It’s all so infuriating.
The events of last month are what I previously thought were unimaginable, but now perceive to be the beginning of a cascade. The ball has been set rolling. I hope and pray with all my heart that it never stops. INEC has announced its plan to open the portals for us to get our National Voters Cards next January. Petitions are being signed, pensioners are on the roads asking for the wages they are owned. Little drops of water. Am I pessimistic? A little, because lies and deceit are the watchword of this government. But I’m hopeful. And playing my part when I can. I’m doing this because amidst all the heartbreak I witnessed in October, I saw something so incredibly beautiful: the power of a punch fuelled by thousands of fists.
I saw & witnessed the power in unity. This is my single source of hope: us.