Editorial note: All Guest Post authors share their views and experiences, and do not represent Week of Saturdays. This is one of the submissions of writers participating in a 21-day Don’t Break the Streak Writing Challenge. Details here.
From being ranked the world’s poverty capital to having one of the worst cities for good quality of life as its central hub, alongside a high unemployment rate and constant lack of power supply, Nigeria is a catastrophe.
No one deserves the struggle that comes with being Nigerian. But like nature knew what it was doing when it orchestrated most Nigerians’ birth, it made us one of the most resilient people ever.
Notwithstanding the broken system and lack of help from our elected officials, Nigerians push through.
Unlike other countries, we are not privileged to enjoy unemployment benefits, so we hone our skills, delve into the entrepreneurial world or gig/talent economy, and empower ourselves. Those whose parents cannot send them to expensive universities find themselves in backward educational institutions. Notwithstanding, most maintain their grit, diligence, and work hard to make their luck.
Thankfully, several initiatives and programs are available to help us leave this country and maximize our potential. That’s the Nigerian dream – to leave the country and love it from afar. Those who aren’t lucky to find a way out do their best to live and still stay happy and hopeful.
However, this resilience has turned out to be both a blessing and a curse. Seeing how Nigerians adapt to terrible policies, the government seems to have made it a duty to be more negligent, except when it’s time to campaign for another four-year term. Their interest in the office comes first. For years, Nigerians have accepted this reality. We have accepted it to the point where our fundamental rights and basic amenities become selling points for rogues during elections.
Our lives (e.g., the Chibok Girls’) became a Selling Point for the political opposition party to buy our hearts. At that point, they were our only hope for change. It was a gamble as some people predicted their game. Nonetheless, it was one we were willing to take. And I dare say we lost.
Few years into the era of ‘change,’ our symbol of hope failed us woefully. In the North, hunger and unrest have become the norm. In the South and East, the public servants hired to protect us have become the ones we need protection from.
The child of a nobody trying to become somebody gets killed for no reason. Why? A murderous unit in the police force finds his/her unconventional ways suspicious. And so, to be a freelancer is to attract extortion and harassment. To express your creativity in fashion is to set yourself up for intrusion into your privacy and possible physical punishment. To use a device with an Apple logo is an automatic ticket to be labeled a fraudster and treated worse than an actual one.
When these started becoming the norm, we cried out to our supposed symbol of hope. As usual, we fell for their bait – ‘reform.’
Their announcement of these ‘reforms’ will spread through the media, stimulating hope in the system once again. Perhaps we will have our right to live freely even though nothing else works, but alas, our supposed symbols of hope turned out to be rogues, conmen in suits.
Realizing these supposed changemakers are no different from the past administrations, we realize we have no hope. We’ve started to accept this reality and have made it a responsibility to be each other’s protector, alerting one another when we see the devils in black jackets (SARS).
Unknown to us, we’ve had the most potent symbol of hope all along – ourselves. And the platform responsible for mobilizing us and sending our demands to the outside world? Social media.
Bound together in our collective struggle and demand for better policies, today’s Nigerians have turned to one another as their last hope. And unlike our government, we have not disappointed ourselves.
Nothing demonstrates Nigerians as our only hope than 9 October 2020. Although the EndSars campaign started as a small peaceful protest, it grew to become a global movement, with international media houses reporting the campaign’s cry, despite our home media houses being the government’s puppets.
Not only that, there was crowdfunding for protesters and victims. Celebrities joined forces and helped spread awareness far and wide. The EndSars movement has become a national cry, and it is one that is alive and unified by hope in ourselves.
I don’t know how far this can go. I don’t know how exactly Nigeria will progress. I can’t tell if we will protest every bad policy after this.
But whatever the case, we, the people of Nigeria, are our hope for lasting change, and I am so proud we are awakening to this fact.