Opinion (17/10/2020): Go! Guys Go! Nigerian Lives Matter Too! – By Tony Okoroji

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In so many ways, the year 2020 has been a washed-out year, a year in which all plans and projections have run amok. A tiny virus that the naked eye cannot even see has messed up nations big and small and people powerful and powerless.

As crazy as it may sound, the last quarter of the year 2020 may end as a watershed period in the history of the Nigerian nation, a period in which the young people of Nigeria took their future into their hands and declared to one and all that Nigerian lives matter.

I am proud, very proud of what the youth of Nigeria have done in the last two weeks. I am exceedingly proud of the leadership provided by young Nigerian artistes. I have always expressed the view that no nation in the history of mankind has been made great by cowards and that you cannot have omelets without breaking eggs. The youth of Nigeria have shown that they are not cowards and have decided to break the eggs necessary for there to be omelets in the land.

Let the truth be told, it is not just about the police or SARS. Our nation has completely lost direction. A self-serving leadership that appears to be deaf and dumb, has assumed that they own the country and all the milk and honey in it. In their minds, the rest of the nation have become their slaves.

Did we not say that we do not want to be colonized anymore by the British? What we did not realize was that we were going to end up being colonized in a worse manner by our own people.

One day during the week, I spent almost 5 hours in traffic from Ikoyi to Ikeja, the time it should ordinarily take to travel from Lagos to Onitsha. At some point, the car was stuck for close to three hours at exactly the same point on Western Avenue. The petrol in the tank of the car dried up and one of my colleagues had to search for a jerry can, to go and buy some fuel to keep the car running. My colleagues complained bitterly about the heavy traffic caused by the #endsars protesters. I said to everybody in the car that I was prepared to spend 5 days and 5 nights on the road if that was going to make the Nigerian nation better.

For some reason, Nigerians had accepted that someone from somewhere would solve the Nigerian problem for us and we would live happily ever after. That is not in tandem with history. Our seeming cowardice simply emboldened our oppressors who became very comfortable, levied more wickedness on us and assured themselves that they would ride on the back of Nigerians forever, at no cost. Finally, something appears to be brewing in Nigeria and the oppressors are worried.

I have been an activist for much of my life. I have carried placards over and over again and led dangerous demonstrations. This is not because I am a troublemaker but because if we do nothing, nothing will happen. I go to court more often than many busy litigation lawyers not because I want to bring anybody down but because I need to be clear what our laws mean and what the rules are.

Repeatedly, I have said to people that I engage in positive nuisance, nuisance that gets people to wake up and do that which they must do. Positive nuisance is a marathon and not a dash. People will call you all kinds of names but it does not matter. If you display staying power, I have no doubt that change will come.

It was positive nuisance that drove Martin Luther King Jnr to become an icon of all times. It was positive nuisance that drove Nelson Mandela to rescue his people from the clutches of Apartheid. It was positive nuisance that took the late Gani Fawehinmi to jail and back several times and inscribed his name in gold for all times. What I call “positive nuisance”, the African American civil rights leader and congressman, John Lewis, who passed on recently called “good trouble”

I do believe that among the millions of young Nigerians demonstrating on the streets today, there is a Martin Luther King, there is a Nelson Mandela, there is a John Lewis and most certainly, there is another Gani Fawehinmi. These are the people who will sort out this nation and deploy positive nuisance or good trouble to give the Nigerian people a chance.

Every 4th black person in the world is a Nigerian. If Nigerian lives matter, black lives will matter. Go! Guys go! Nigerian lives matter too.

See you next week.

– Okoroji is the chairman of COSON

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