It is 0930 on May Day. I was trying hard to close an infographic. The designer was not just getting it right. I was so ready in “spirit”. I wanted leash my full anger as I looked the stream of tweets on the Lagos protest to bring back our girls. I learnt that the canisters of tear gas have been fired. I verily believe my good people will not despair.
Finally, I made it to the protest. The faces were obvious – many amazing beacons of inspiration. I tried to count we the protesters; we were not up to 234. Suddenly the number strikes me again – 234 girls. I mean putting 20 football teams on a single pitch at the same time. The numbers have even inched up to 276 and one cannot even imagine the state of mind of these innocent, brave ones. When I looked at the other side of “town”, the Onikan Stadium where the Labour Day rally held, I felt overwhelmed.They were just having a great time with exchange of bottles of cheap gin and N1000 notes. A cluster of banners and flags raised high each announcing their organizations. The NURTW boys were in multiples in their traditional green and white colours. A rough count puts them at least 500 times than we, the protesters. We were just outnumbered. When I tried to peer into the stadium looking into the sea of heads just unconcerned, I was in despair. I wished for an instant that we reverse scenarios; like we don’t care and they are the ones protesting.
I was wondering how will they hear us? Do these people even listen to news? Do they know about kidnapped girls and Sambisa forest? We decided to change route and walk into the Stadium complex. At that moment I was getting very angry, pumping my fist in the air. Screaming at the Labour Day-happy folks that can they afford their children away for 17 days? I flung the everything I had in the air. Teniola was just telling me to be calm. I was already drenched in sweat.
Governor Fashola looked at us for a second. He was now barely audible and he quickly finished his speech. The Governor stood still ready to take the parade. We, less than 200 in the midst of over 5,000 people, wont just allow the parade. We did not move an inch for them. They could not find their way. We were screaming and the Governor just looked helpless at a point. Maybe because we weaved our message with “stolen dreams”, a lot of folks still looked on, unclear about what we were passing across. However, constant honking it in their ears, they finally got it.
Some called us students. Some came to accept understanding and sink into deep thoughts about our worthy cause. Some were asking “How much were we paid?”
A nice way to end with Fela “Me and you no dey same category” A gust of happiness mixed with sadness. This is not victory. Victory is bringing back the girls alive form Sambisa Forest. However, this is instructive, what we need is a tireless minority. We are the ones standing the in gap. The NLC wont shut offices unless its a drain on their pocket like fuel subsidy or minimum wage gets shortened. Everyone thrives on personal incentives, disregarding the crisis our commonality.
The elites in the upper notch are incentivized not to care. The ones in the lower cadre are fed with a buffet of ignorance mixed with ethnicity and acute passiveness. The enlightened class liberates the nation, they are the ones that shine light and raise the expectations of the critical mass. We just need more committed people who trample on comfort and ease and clearly understand how this is all connected. People who are quickened to act and will not be indifferent. Nigeria of our lifetime will be better than it was. God bless you brave Nigerians.
I believe the girls will come back alive. Belief – the staple that incompetent leaders keeps feeding me. That’s all I have got. This time I hope it is enough. I pray victory comes quick. Like the small victory of #FreeCiaxon, we another hashtag.