By Adeola Soetan
1. Iya Onifufu is a 70-year-old, poor Nigerian living in a bed – less room with a leaking roof, hawking fufu from early in the morning, through the scorching sun to the evening to barely survive with her unemployed graduate children.
According to Iya Onifufu, while she was hawking around, she saw and heard some protesters of ‘Revolution Now’ protesting peacefully and saying things were bad in Nigeria, campaigning for a better life from government.
Illiterate she is, but the protesters’ message resonated in her. It was like the message was exactly for her because of her poverty status.
What did she do?
She cut short her hawking, dropped her basket and joined the protesters to demand good governance while some of us, especially the ‘spontaneous revolutionaries’ activists and social media bullies were platitudinal with the ‘Revolution’, condemning the messengers and the message without giving any concrete way forward.
Iya Onifufu willingly joined the ‘Revolutionary Now’ protesters on the streets singing ‘Ilu Ile’ (country hard) with them peacefully as many of us secondary school students joined ‘Ali Must Go’ protesters on the streets in 1978 even when we didn’t know the planners but the message of the university students against education commercialization was vital to us as future university students whose ambition might be jeopardized if Gen. Obasanjo’s attack on education succeeded.
Pronto, during the peaceful protest, before you can say: ‘FUFU’, fully-armed battle-ready policemen descended heavily on Iya Onifufu, terrorized, pushed her, tear-gassed and threatened to kill the 70-year-old woman and her comrades if they refused to leave the scene.
The same security personnel that belonged to the ‘original suffer head’ class like Iya Onifufu and other protesters terrorized them to no end before our very eyes and the civilized world.
What was your response to the unnecessary police brutality against a harmless old woman?
You kept morbid and unprincipled silence. Some even shamelessly supported the attack because the poor woman associated with the word Revolution, while some ‘acti-feasts’ were perhaps waiting for the position of their paymasters before they could take a position against police brutality.
But today, Iya Onifufu has become a hero and an inspiration to a struggle for better Nigeria.
2. Iya Onifufu reminds me of ‘Baba Kogboyinbo’ (the man that doesn’t understand the English language). The dedicated old man panel beater was one of Gani Fawehinmi’disciples, a committed change seeking
activist who sacrificed tremendously during the heydays of our anti-military struggles and the formation of National Conscience before it became National Conscience Party. Babakogboyinbo, from his village, would come to Lagos, Abeokuta, Osogbo and anywhere struggle calls for meetings, protests and distributing handbills openly without fear. Like Iya Onifufu, Baba Kogbebo, a stout ‘Ganist’ is a conscientious Nigerian like his role model, Gani Fawehinmi.
3.Ekweremadu’s VIP Treatment in Germany.
Among the Nigerian privileged Bed Bugs and fat cows that are sucking the country dry is Senator Ekweremadu. Fela called people like him VIP (Vagabonds In Power).
Unlike the poor Iya Onifufu, as at the time some of his exuberant tribesmen molested him in Germany, for whatever reason, (the propriety or otherwise not my focus here), Ekweremadu has a new N50m posh SUV allocated to him like other senators by this next level senate. This is in addition to his fleet of cars by previous same – same senate as a ‘permanent senator’.
Ekweremadu’s total take-home package (still unknown) and other ‘bembestic’ privileges enjoyed by him, other senators and Reps, President. VP, governors, ministers and other high profile political office holders, are the reasons why many Iya Onifufu, most workers, artisans, youths and market women, are working so hard and yet so poor and homeless.
The Ekweremadus are the reason for an oil-rich Nigeria becoming world poverty headquarters, over 70% living on $1 per day, one of the highest maternity mortality, bad roads, insecurity, collapsed infrastructure and high rate of suicide among Nigerians.
Indeed, our bad corrupt leaders are the reason Iya fufu joined the Revolution Now protesters.
4. My solidarity and sympathy are to Iya Onifufu, flotsam and jetsam created by the anti-poor neo-liberal system, not to Ekweremadu & others who are responsible for my pains, our pangs, and your woes.
Weep not for Ekweremadu but for yourselves that support this anti-poor system. If you keep mute or support police brutality against a poor Iya Onifufu and now you are fast to condemn the ‘friendly slap’ given to Ekweremadu in Germany, you are not only a hypocrite but your own class enemy.
And if you parade yourself as a human right /pro-democracy activist, please cover your face in Shame.