The spirit of endism has just begun in Nigeria. Also just begun is the despotic underbelly of a wannabe, undemocratic dictatorship of President Muhammadu Buhari. The loser in all these shenanigans is our bludgeoned, bloodied and bastardised democracy.
We are entering into a red zone of “Who Dares Wins” that sets demonstrators under the aegis of Endsarism ideology against the warring, bullish, combative, brutish, tyrannical and reactionary forces of Buhari’s dictatorial resume. Gaslighters, bombthrowers and pacifists are shoveling into the trenches in a macabre war of social media civil war.
On October 12, 2020, this writer was in Nigeria. I witnessed some of the EndSARS protesters. I had driven that day from Ibadan, my hometown in Oyo State, to Lagos. I ran into the protesters along Ikorodu Road. Precisely, at Maryland. Youths of all ages painted the skyline with riot of colourful placards demanding an end to the wanton pathological brutality of Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Fearless, pushing, confident, hopeful and optimistic, the youths were all in one solidarity mood and lapping all the fun of the moment. I was ecstatic to see the so-called lazy youths in new identity.
Today, Endsarism has given birth to Endism. Endism in one word means total end to all our aberrations as a nation: Police/Army lawlessness, Boko Haram terrorism, insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, high cost of governance, unemployment, impunity, political rascality, treasury looting, elite excesses, bad governance, poor infrastructure, executive recklessness, budget padding, lopsided appointments, feudal-servant relationship between the North and the South, miscarriage of justice, corrupt judiciary, zero conviction of politicians who loot their treasury, wasteful motorcade convoy, high cost of living, official bureaucracy, salary of senators and legislators, immunity for privileged politicians, control of free speech and hopelessness.
Buharism on the other hand is a pulverizing, paralyzing and punishing ideology that is designed to sustain and entrenched the core demands of endism. It is the antithesis of endism. It is conservative, stuffy, demonic, tragic, uncompromising, vengeful, brutish, stubborn, unpretentious to democratic sentiment, controlling, snobbish, arrogant, unrepentant, clannish, militaristic, brazen, enemy of rule of law, divisive, cold, manipulative, social media reprobate, anti-diversity, anti-youths, anti-intellectualism, anti-south, hegemonic, islamicist, sectarianist, unjust, preserver of privileges, backward thinking, violator of human right and monstrously incompetent. Buharism is symptomatic of the toxic tribalism, militarism and human right violation that have been the guiding principles of Buhari’s presidency that have now boiled over during the Endsars protest.
The EndSARS movement, in all its purity of boldness and discipline, was a cry to retool the soul of this nation. It was a passionate and universal rebuke to the inanities besetting a sixty year old defeated giant to rise and shine again. The youths realized that Nigeria has shipped into a Hobbesian time bomb of police brutality and governance of reckless impunity. They realized that Nigeria has become a democratically self-scourging nation where nothing works. They realised that most leaders in Nigeria are devastatingly illiterates when it comes to good governance.
The youths are blisteringly accurate in their description of the kind of leaders we have in this country. Most of their fathers harbour memories of stolen glory, corrupt governance, underdevelopment, lack of social amenities, stifled dreams, regrets and despair. As a counter measure, EndSARS was then enabled to end the generational gerrymandering that had collapsed Nigeria into the poverty capital of the world. And their message was clear, unequivocal, bold and direct – dismantle FSARS and prosecute all officers who committed heinous and brutal damage on Nigerians, reform the Police and pay compensation to all the hidden and voiceless victims of deranged assault and battery from officers who were meant to be protectors rather than oppressors.
The leaderless protests were smooth sailing. The jolliness, camaraderie, non-conformity and the momentary air of freedom to express themselves was next to none in this republic of fear called Nigeria. They shattered the oft-held myth that our youths are cowards, lazy and could not organise themselves. Those weaknesses were laid to rest. From the sidelines, their fathers, mothers, aunts’ well-wishers and uncles cheered them on. We in the diaspora organised solidarity protests across Europe and pumped the air of mass support. It was a defining moment for the power of social media and its frightening influence either for good or bad.
Then come black Tuesday – October 20, 2020. It was the day the old soigne, chivalrous and cheerfulness of our protesting youths turned bloody. It was the day the fluidity, freewheeling and vivaciousness of endism collided with the irrational, brutish and intolerant Buharism.
With Buharism there is no statute of limitations. Buharism does not want to know whether protest is part of democratic culture. To Buharism, protest is fighting against the state. It is a challenge to constituted authority – an authority derived from the people! As the cheering youths gathered around Lekki Tollgate holding flags they thought would insulate them against shooting and singing the national anthem, then something snapped in the rank of the unknown soldiers invited by Lagos State Governor, Mr Jide Sanwo-Olu, now of shattered reputation.
Today Lekki Tollgate is ground zero and a sad mausoleum to the youths who fell to the bullets of nasty brutes in Nigerian Army uniform. There has been denial and counter accusation of who did what? There has been refutation of the number of casualties. At Lekki, Buharism was derobed, dehaloed and disgraced! Buharism, on that fateful day, succeeded in evaporating the remaining hope we all have in Nigerian democracy.
Lekki massacre and its aftermath has become hot topic for pundits who question our feral and gun-enabled democracy that trudges on right of citizens and confiscates their freedom to assemble, protests and agitate. Rather than encourage relational harmony, Buharist democracy is mapping alternative line of political impunity, lawlessness and greater citizen marginality. We are faced with a leader who reacts defensively to any criticism of his incompetence and the handling of the affairs of state from repression to other countless failures of his administration. We shall not forget Lekki. Lekki is not forgivable for a leader who showed no contrition for the deaths of his own youths. Long live endism!!!