It’s another October 1st. The routines play out again. Speeches and tweets from the President, brands changing their logos for the day or putting up branded green and white themed design campaigns. Events that allude to our national pride are held, this time virtually.
There’s also the constant dissatisfaction from citizens who continue to live in an unprogressive country. They make the rounds on the street, in the privacy of our homes, and the buzzing spaces that make up our social media timelines.
In the past decade, social media has grown to become an effective medium of sampling the people’s opinions and bearing witness to their reactions and feelings in real time. And for many Nigerians, October 1st is simply a reminder of the ways our country continues to fail its citizens. This would explain the #Nigeria60andUseless hashtag kickstarted on Twitter in the early hours of today. As expected, this hashtag is awash with tweets calling out the country’s inadequacies.
60 years of Corruption and failed Governance.
60 years of crippling economy and declining democracy.
60 years of continues reliance on Oil and ethno-religious disunity.
— Señor Torreira!!! (@Xahraddeen_) October 1, 2020
Security…hot tears. We don’t even know who’s meant to be protecting us
GBV… through the roof
What are we celebrating ? All our leaders should bury their heads in shame. #Nigeria60AndUseless
— ebele. (@ebelee_) October 1, 2020
There is an inexhaustive list of the things that don’t work well in Nigeria. We can start with the most pedestrian; electricity, housing, jobs. We can scale that up to the sickening levels of corruption that continue to keep hospitals underfunded and schools under-performing. Did I forget that the levels of Gender-based violence are off the roof and there are almost no strict measures in place to punish its perpetrators and afford women increased autonomy? Or maybe we can talk about the deep-seated homophobia that has been written into law, one that validates the insane level of queer-based violence meted out each day on queer people.
When this is put into framing, it is easy to see how this hashtag, one of our generations’ means to officiating a protest is not merely a way to discuss the big and small ways where the country doesn’t measure up. #Nigeria60AndUsless provides a deeply heartbreaking look into what it means to slowly lose confidence in a place you call home. It reminds us that many young Nigerians are, with each passing day, unable to believe in the system, because there is almost nothing to believe in.
One important question the #Nigeria60AndUseless is really asking is: are we ever going to be proud to be Nigerians? The answer is yes and the work that needs to be done to achieve some, if not all, of the change we seek lies in our hands. With the penetrative power of social media, we have kicked against oppressive laws and continue to campaign against the existence of others like the anti-same-sex marriage law. We pushed for progressive campaigns like the Not Too Young To Run bill that birthed a law that provides young Nigerians the legal right to contest for election at any level. We have also joined voices in pushing for laws that enable more Nigerian women are protected from sex-for-marks in academic institutions as well as the domestication of Sexual Offenders Registers in different states across the country.
We can continue to do more. We can double down on our demand for reforms on all fronts in ways that centers the average Nigerians and flattens the societal curve to a reasonable extent. We might not like where we are, but we have the power to mold our collective future, we are already doing great at it, there’s no need to stop now.
Nelson C.J is a culture writer with works in The New York Times, Xtra Magazine, OkayAfrica, Black Youth Project, AfroPunk, and a few other spaces. You can find him saving dog pictures on Twitter.