Still on the Matter: Lessons from the #IStandWithNigeria protests

A week ago, Nigerians trooped out (en masse?) to protest a number of inadequacies that have become associated with living Nigerian. They used the tagline #OneVoiceOneNigeria. Some of you may have talked about it using the hashtag #IStandWithNigeria.

You probably tweeted about the lack of electricity or the fact that prices have doubled while incomes have remained stagnant – delayed or even slashed if you are a civil servant below a certain grade. Or maybe you talked about your frustrations the war on anti-corruption that has lost its side with the masses or the yet unlowered cost of maintaining our public servants including the President and the legislators. Honestly, you may have just been mad about the most ridiculous vacation that you don’t get the chance to take (owing to everything else we’ve mentioned).

But it’s been a week and we are now silent – not because any of these issues have been addressed but because of the reason this column exists – as Nigerians, we forget things almost as soon as we boil over about them – so we are here to remind you of some the reasons you should still #StandWithNigeria:

Unresolved issues

More like unaddressed issues. The reason you protest is not so you get a day of to march, sing and appear in revolutionary photos online. It’s so that those who you are speaking hear the issues you are aggravated about hear you and start to make moves to fix those issues. That has not happened yet. What we have is a Vice-President who acknowledges the rights of citizens to protest and is happy when security agents properly manage the protests even when that means deploying every armour tank to follow a peaceful protest with 3:1 ratio of police to protesters.

But no one in the Presidency has given any deep thoughts (because generic reponses retweeted do not count as deep thoughts) to the issues that led to the protests and that’s sad. It’s either they have not heard or do not understand and so either way, we are here one week after as if the protest never happened.

Nonchalance

On the part of the President. This one is simple: he has not even addressed it. And his band of media defenders a.k.a aides at best have tried to make light of the legitimacy of the protesters. In a televised live chat yesterday, a Gbenga Olorunpomi tried to make a case that many of the protests that held on Monday were politically motivated and according to him: especially the one called for by Tuface.

No, he didn’t say the #IStandWithBuhari protests where protesters demanded their promised pay reeked of political motivation, it’s the other one that doesn’t align with his chosen narrative. Comparing it to the protests that the APC led while they were still an opposition party, Olorunpomi said, this time around, protesters are putting too much pressure on the government, demanding that it turns the Nigerian situation around to look like America in 2 years – as if when Nigerians went to the polls in 2015, it was to vote in a slow and unresponsive government with a mandate that will last for a minimum of 8 years.

It is this kind of responses to people’s legitimate grievances that should keep a protest alive – not necessarily in the streets – checking silly Conway-like mouthful excesses from people like him.

Miscommunication

Or the sheer lack of it. Because why are there so many Twitter accounts catering to the President but none of them seem to know or have had any real briefings about their boss’ whereabouts. Or have you bought any of those “we-spoke-last-night statements? We didn’t survive 2010 so that Femi Adesinas can tell us “they are in touch with everyone around him…(but him)”.

Ain’t nobod gat time fo dat.

Finally, the recession is now looping, Emefiele is still held down by gravity and other things, Babachir Lawal looks like he’s here to stay, President Trump may have talked to President Kyari for all we know, big bills and small to no voltage levels still prevail and jumbo pay… so why aren’t we still protesting?

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