By Tochukwu Ezukanma
The event of “Black Tuesday” at the Lekki Toll Gate Plaza: the shooting, killing and maiming of unarmed, peaceful, flag-waving, national anthem-singing, youthful Nigerians by the Nigerian army is an indelible moral stain on President Buhari. That blood-spattered onslaught on innocent Nigerians was inexcusable and morally reprehensible. What ghoulish logic could have motivated such gory attack on Nigerian youths, whose only crime was that, in the hot enthusiasm of youth, they dared to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to a peaceful protest? Quite naturally, the killing angered, horrified and frustrated the generality of Nigerians.
Not surprisingly, it triggered an anti-government backlash. Depending on their means and circumstances, many Nigerians vented their anger and frustration against this crime against humanity in varied ways. In their anger and frustration, the youths are not backing down; they are re-strategizing to continue with the protest, and still demand an end to SARS, and for overall police reform, good governance and social justice. In rage and disaffection, other youths, gruff and frenzied, took to rampaging through the streets of Lagos, attacking police stations, burning down government buildings, and properties and businesses belonging to those suspected to have encouraged, or acquiesced to, the shooting at the protesters. Stripped of youthful vigor and stamina by age, I could neither join in the protest nor the rampage; I am venting my anger and frustration on President Buhari with my pen.
Democracy does not guarantee the election of good leaders. Therefore, despite our democracy, Nigerians still elect horrible individuals as presidents. President Buhari is the worst of these horrible men ever elected president in Nigeria. The election of Mohammadu Buhari to power is one of the most egregious political blunders of Nigerian history. His presidency has been disastrous for the country. As such, Nigeria is a vast scene of confusion, a reality glaringly palpable in heightened insecurity, spiraling crime rate, and ethnic and religious strife bedeviling the country; worsening economy and its attendant deepening and expanding poverty; suffocating levels of official corruption; unprincipled distribution of the national wealth and social injustice; arrogance of power and gross disregard for the sanctity of human life, and its concomitant police brutality, trigger-happiness and extra-judicial killings; etc.
Although the immediate spark of the #EndSARS protest was police brutality, especially the cruelty and viciousness of a special police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), the Nigerian masses had, for long, been totally disappointed and disillusioned with the status quo. The #EndSARS protest is pertinent, timely and laudable. With their protest, the youths are speaking for the generality of Nigerians. They are expressing our collective revulsion for an evil oligarchy that, in its corruption, irresponsibility, avarice and snobbery, consigned a disproportionate number of Nigerians to vegetating in desperate poverty and groaning under a lawless and murderous police force.
In dealing with the protesters, Nigerians had expected patient and thoughtful, not ruthless, methods from the Buhari administration. Lamentably, its method was most thoughtless and ruthless; it was downright barbaric. It ordered soldiers to attack the protesters. In their shooting spree, the soldiers killed about twenty seven, and injured more than thirty, protesters. The video of that attack was heart-rending and mind-boggling. It showed the soldiers moving in, and, at very close ranging, opening fire on the protesters. That mass-murder of unarmed, peaceful Nigerians was unpardonable. It is a crime against humanity.
For the most part, Nigerians were resigned to the Buhari presidency. As for that staggering mistake of electing him to power, we found solace in the belief that we reserve the right to be wrong and make mistakes. Moreover, nothing educates more than a mistake; political mistakes are necessary ingredients for political learning and experience. As for his continued misrule and its attendant social disruption, we found consolation in waiting out his presidency. After all, his term of office will expire in May 2023. However, that unbridled murderousness at the Toll Gate Plaza on “Black Tuesday” exposed added dimensions of Buharism.
It incontrovertibly confirmed Buhari a criminal, culpable of crime against humanity. He is a murderer, and his murderous hands are dripping with the blood of the innocent. It evinced Buhari as an unabashed, unrepentant, incorrigible tyrant. He remains psychologically trapped in the past: his days of military dictatorship. His power derives from popular will, but perplexingly, he, routinely, acts in defiance of the popular will, and, behaves, as though, his power is predicated on brute force, and must therefore be maintained with guns and bayonets. Africans thought that their worst political nightmares were made manifest in Idi Amin and Mobutu Sese Seko. That was before the debut of our democratically elected tyrant, Mohammadu Buhari. The Buhari administration seemed to have combined the worst of Amin and Mobutu: wanton bloodshed and mindless kleptomania.
History has furnished the instructive precedence that the terror of the gun cannot extinguish the awakened aspirations of the people. And that those, in the deranging effect of power refused to acknowledge this fact, usually, learn the hard way that brute power is the most treacherous form of power, and that it has always betrayed those who wielded it excessively.
Tochukwu Ezukanma writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
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