The unvarnished truth of our reality should be clear to all, but the delusional: Nigeria is not a democracy, the unconscionable and evil powers that were available to Abacha remains intact today…
I have existed in something of a daze since the evening of 20/10/20. I have ate alright, I have functioned as optimally as might be expected when you live or exist within the dystopian nightmare that is the land of my birth. But I have not been quite the same man, since the evening of 20/10/20.
I have no illusions about the Nigerian state. I have never doubted the immense capacities for evil that undergirds the very existence of the country itself, and the rulers had long established their credentials for wanton evil and wickedness. But what happened on 20/10/20, was evil on another scale, and on a different level.
On 20/10/20, the operators of the wicked, avaricious, and ungodly tollgate at Lekki, the venue of the Lekki #ENDSARS protests, removed the cameras or whatever it was that they removed, but the protesters at the tollgate, had the presence of mind to take pictures of the men ordered to effect the removal. I saw these pictures online, minutes after they were taken. Thoughts crossed my mind, but I dismissed them in the erroneous belief that we have left those dark days behind. I was careless. I lied to myself. We are right where we had always been.
November 1993. The Nigerian state was afire. The annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election had sparked off widespread protests nationwide. The Interim National Government that IBB had cobbled together with the endorsement and guidance of St’ Matthew of Owu was fast losing control as Abacha must have hoped, and probably encouraged. Abacha released the dogs of war, and soldiers were drafted to the streets of Lagos to put down the protests.
I had spent a few years in Okokomaiko by this time. The Ojo Cantonment, and the Signals Barracks at Mile 2, the Navy Town, Ojo. My childhood at Ojoo, and Inalende in Ibadan, had left me with a pretty good idea of the brutality of the Nigerian soldier, and I require no lectures on the lawlessness that has shaped and blighted their perception of the unfortunate Nigerian outside of uniform. But in the days after the annulment, and before Abacha released the hell hounds, the Lagos conductor had began to dare to collect his fare. Soldiers and policemen had lost the capacity to claim staff in the buses and Molue. Nigeria was at an inflection point in its history. A revolution was afoot.
The days leading up to 20/10/20 reminds me of those days. There was an awakening. There was an optimism. There was hope in the air. A vibrancy. It felt like Nigeria was in the labor room, and something great was about to be birthed. The Nigerian youth had finally arisen from the seeming stupor in which it had been, and the young were demanding changes from the Nigerian state and the rulers. The theatre of protests had morphed from the pitched battles of my own youth, and where we had stones as weapons, these kids were using hashtags.
The enduring similarity between these two seasons of Nigerian history, is the obvious desire of Nigerians across the length and breath of Nigeria, for a new direction for our country. Whilst one season was crystallized by a presidential election, this one has been birthed by a simple demand that has been made of the Nigerian state and its rulers, by the Nigerian youth: ENDSARS. But as the seasons are similar in the virulence of the hope that they had birthed, so have the Nigerian state and its evil rulers and governance systems, been predictably the exact same, in their reactions.
Circa November 14-16 1993, Ikorodu Road, Ojo-Badagry Expressway, Ketu-Mile 12, Orile, all in Lagos, and in other theatres of protests nationwide, Nigerian soldiers, pure dogs of war, the sort that derives tons of sadistic pleasure from dehumanizing their fellow human beings, men hollowed of their own humanities, were sent to put down the protests. They had no teargas. They carried no batons. All they had were their guns, bullets, and bayonets. The best any protester had were their stones, nothing had prepared them for the ferocious efficiency of the Nigerian killing machine. Denied citizenship, they became as sitting ducks.
The streets were red with blood, and the soldiers in the rearguard picked the dead as the hunting dogs would pick the quarry nicked by the masters bullets. Nobody has any record of the dead and wounded in these massacres. Obasanjo was the beneficiary of the sacrifice, and he did everything he could, to erase the national memory of these state sponsored murders. Nobody was ever brought to account for these crimes, and the families that lost loved ones have never been given closure, had their losses acknowledged, nor been offered any token as compensation for their losses. We have presumed to move on.
When I saw the picture of the men that were sent to remove the cameras, I remembered November 1993. But I allowed myself to be misled by memory of another person that was connected to that season, and who is equally connected to this one. I remembered Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Asiwaju of Lagos, and the Jagaban of Borgu. I remembered the man that I have always respected for his political dexterity, even as I have developed an intense hatred of his malignant influence in the politics of Lagos, Yorubaland, and Nigeria at large.
I remembered how he had fled into exile when Abacha had unleashed the kind of unconscionable powers that might require the absence of cameras as witnesses. I persuaded myself that I must be paranoid about the cameras because of my overactive imagination, a condition forced on me by the exclusion of my generation from the protests, and the reluctant paternal role that I had assumed for myself. To neutralize the fears that I felt, I dug in with the flag waving myth, and helped supply more flags to the protesters in Lekki and Alausa. Nigerian soldiers would not shoot flag waving Nigerian citizens. Tinubu would never allow such insanity in the state of aquatic splendor. Not with his history of NADECO exile.
There was no casualty became there are two fatalities. Powers beyond my control has become, we were invited by the governor, and Corporal Fashola has finally graduated from the Police Academy. The man has spoken, and we have heard him, Bola Ahmed Tinubu remains the Asiwaju of Lagos, and the Jagaban of Borgu. Nothing happens in Lagos without his imprimatur, and I have a few questions to ask of him:
- Who ordered the cameras removed?
- Were you informed of the decision to bring in the soldiers?
- Who ordered the lights to be switched off at the tollgate?
- How many people died in the Lekki tollgate massacre?
- Who hired the arsonists that burnt TVC and The Nation?
Let no one be in any doubt, we are back where we have always been. The lies of a return to democratic rule in 1999 might have blinded us to the truth that has always been on top of our noses, but the unvarnished truth of our reality should be clear to all, but the delusional, Nigeria is not a democracy, the unconscionable and evil powers that were available to Abacha remains intact today. Obasanjo unleashed it in Odi, he did not hold it back in Zaki Biam, it was unleashed in Ife, and the Shiite were the recipient in Kaduna and Abuja, in recent years. And something stinks about Wike’s ongoing purge of IPOB in Obigbo.
The hitherto unthinkable just happened in the full glare of the world. The Nigerian state committed crimes against humanity in its own country, it did so under the cover of darkness, and it has continued to switch off the light by obfuscating and muddying the waters, making the task of ventilating the truth ever more difficult, if not outright impossible. But we know enough to know what has happened, and the truth has the irritating habit of living beyond the little men that would play god.
The truth shall yet emerge, and there shall certainly be an account, if this demoncrazy is not to die in the pool of the innocents blood. But here I am, again comforted by the immortal words of Patrick Wilmot; the truth of a man, is not dissolved in his blood. However many they might yet murder to keep the truth of their evil from becoming a notorious fact, they shall certainly not escape the judgment of God Almighty.
Originally written 15 November, 2020 at 6:34AM.