As the protests sparked by the vexation over the alleged violent killings and extortion by the contentious special anti-robbery unit of the Nigeria Police known as SARS or FSARS sweep across the country, I think it is time for some state-wide introspection.
First is an understanding of the key players in this movement. There is a dissident faction on the streets who are so “fired up” and unrelenting in their quest to not just EndSARS but to also vent their frustrations on the state of the nation. You also have a large population of the country who for many reasons can’t be on the streets but are assiduously protesting “at heart”.These groups are playing their part but behind the scenes.
The second is to rethink the efficacy of the protest thus far. Amidst the successes made, can we call it Uhuru yet?
Following a painful history of recent unsuccessful protests by young people in our nation’s history, and a global history that one in four nonviolent campaigns since 1900 was a total failure, ill Xray 4 reasons why this protest needs a rethink in strategy.
1. THERE IS A RISING INFILTRATION OF AGENT PROVOCATEURS
The protest is getting infiltrated by agent provocateurs whose intention is not in sync with the original objective. In a bid to ruin the reputation of what has been built by the original protest, Gudu junction was set ablaze by persons whose physiognomy screamed violence. Lekki Tollgate has become a haven of narcotics and other psychoactive users.
The identities of this “protest saboteurs” remain a debate. Whether they are inserted by politicians or a case of rogue protesters simply acting on their accord. one thing remains common. THE PROTEST IS NOW HURTING THE PROTESTER.
How long before the movement is discredited? How can the real protesters be differentiated from looters, destroyers of public and private critical infrastructures?
2. LACK OF LEADERSHIP
Every protest is a project and for any project to be deemed successful, there has to be a leadership structure that will drive it forward. I smile sadly inside when I hear spectators say that the leaderless protest engulfing the country today is good for agitations and a strategy in itself. Not it isn’t.
The leader is half of the revolution itself, alongside the cause upon which the uprising stands. As the face of the revolution, the leader provides direction to the masses in the squares and streets.
3. THE AGENDA IS NOT DEFINITE
The people are on the street but they don’t know why. There’s no efficacy because the demands aren’t clear enough. I was worried we started the #EndSars toga. I told my close friends that path was risky as it was going to just be a pure case of medicating the symptoms. Why push for #EndSars when we could have pushed for #EndPoliceBrutality
The older generations are asking the question that seems to be making a mockery of us – what do you want? As I type this article, it is still unclear what we want. That in itself is a stab to this protest and it’s hurting it. Success will be far with hydra-headed demands. No protests in history succeed without a defined goal.
What do we really want?
4. THE PROTEST IS NOW INSPIRING FEAR INSTEAD OF HOPE
Lately, the emotions of the protest have been uninspiring. We have witnessed an alarming uptick in incidents of armed protesters asserting that their right to bear arms trumps every other right including the right to public health and safety.
These peaceful protests have descended into chaos, calling into question the efficacy of violence when it comes to spurring social change.
Malcolm X (protester extraordinaire) once opined that “Nonviolence (Protest) is fine as long as it works”. A keen observer not carried away by the emotional stirrings that is associated with minor and major demonstrations would agree that the protest is not working. It is gradually losing its bearing.
Protesters are yet to intelligently drive home their demands as such must likely they will continue to march in circles if no systematic approach is adopted. For a movement to gain support and inspire lasting change, peace and consensus are essential components.
In the coming hours, I will explain why we should move from #SoroSoke to #SoroLoriTable
©️ Segun Oduyemi, Lagos Nigeria 2020
This article is sponsored by SAME GROUNDS, a movement that advocates that young people should organize more intelligently.