Exactly a month ago today, around midday on October 20th 2020, in the heat of the #EndSars protests across the country and especially at the Lekki toll gate, the Lagos State government announced a 24-hour curfew to begin by 4:00pm same day. It spread panic and backlash as people scampered to get home in time. The government later moved up the enforcement time to 9:00pm.
While people struggled to escape traffic, secure their children and get home safely, an interesting theater of drama and blood was setting up at the #LekkiTollGate
Cameras attached to the toll gate were removed and when later pressed, authorities said it wasn't the CCTV, but what they produced as CCTV footage captured nothing of what was about to happen to unarmed, young and peaceful Nigerian youths who were at the tollgate protesting for government to #EndPoliceBrutality
The big advert screen which provided light around the toll gate axis was turned off for the first time in over two weeks of young people peacefully protesting at the toll gate. This same advert screen provided lighting and even carried messages of support and enlightenment about the protests.
Later that evening, soldiers arrived on the scene and shot at peaceful, unarmed and tired Nigerian youths who waved the Nigerian flag, believing waving the flag would invoke a strong spirit of patriotism.
That night, as DJ Switch streamed it Live for the world to see, sleep was murdered in Nigeria. I was having dinner when I joined in to watch what was happening. I lost my appetite and said to myself, "Martin Beck Nworah, you must not have kids in a country that has no regard for her flag."
We heard the gunshots and saw the bullet wounds, but events of the following days made us question if such ever happened.
For days and weeks, the tollgate became a theater of sorts. The Lagos State government said "forces beyond our direct control" invited the soldiers. The soldiers said the Lagos State government invited them. A serving Minister found a camcorder after days of cleaning and we hoped to see something from it. That never happened.
Today, nobody has taken full responsibility for what happened that night on 20th October 2020. As the blame game moves from one side to another, we are made to forget why we even started this movement in the first place.
Millions of Nigerian youths are jobless, helpless and have no idea what their future would look like. #ASUU has been on strike for many months and those who hoped to graduate this year and move on with life won't be able to do that. Do we encourage young people to have dreams in this nation? Yet when you manage to train yourself, learn skills and become self employed, the same security operatives who ought to protect you will brutalize you for just looking good.
We have leaders who lack empathy and have refused to identify with the struggles of the people they are leading. To them, relating with us beyond the election period is below them. This is why they had the demonic courage to hide food palliative meant for people during the Covid-19 lock down and some had the temerity to use same for their birthday party hampers.
This hurts me personally, because I went through ASUU strike to become a lawyer today. I've passed through the crucible of being a Nigerian youth fighting to be sure my voice is heard and my dreams never die. I look at myself in the mirror and say, "Beck, your life is worth more than the sad situation of your country. Fight for yourself."
This is the lesson worth sharing with your friends and loved ones in Nigeria; let them fight and work out their salvation in fear and trembling.
May the souls of all those who died in this struggle across the country find peace in God's heaven, since they never found it here. Amen.
Till we get to the Promised Land, I shall be waiting for when you will pass me a glass of water and thank God for the gift of grace for the race.