A dangerous trend is emerging in the social media following the arrest and prosecution of social crusaders Omowole Sowore, Olawale Bakare and Agba Jalingo – an increasing number of naysayers is dancing palongo, almost literally; joyous that virtually all voices of dissent have been slammed shut.
Now their band of messiahs can continue to rule – better still, ruin – the country unfettered!
Their stock in trade is to deride any fly being disproportionately attacked with sledge hammer by the current government.
Not surprisingly, both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are complicit, if not guilty outright, in the ongoing suppression of dissenting voices, with the active connivance of – wait for it – fellow victims of bad governance!
Or how else can one comprehend the growing list of people making jest of Sowore and youthful Bakare,, who have been unable to raise the humongous bail bonds slammed on them – is there any difference, really, between N150 million and N20 million as conditions for the release of ordinary citizens?
“See the yeye activists and Southwest leaders; ordinary N20 million they cannot raise for the release of their fellow comrades, or ethnic ‘sons’, the way Igbo leaders rose to secure the release of Nnamdi Kanu of the Biafra struggle,” social media commentators have repeated ad nauseam about Sowore and Bakare.
Some others have also been unsparing in expressing support for the ongoing trial of Agba Jalingo by the PDP’s Governor Ben Ayade for alleged treasonable felony. Treasonable felony in the year of our Lord 2019, the weapon that used to be wielded by colonial masters to keep our founding fathers quiet so that Nigerians would not agitate for independence!
But how have the naysayers reacted to Agba Jalingo’s travail?
“God don catch am, next time the stupid boy and his fellow activists will learn to keep their mouths shut,” an otherwise respected senior citizen said to my hearing this week. I could not but exclaim: “Whaaaaat!”
Is this what Nigerians have been reduced to? How lower can we sink as a people?
Such comments on the social crusaders missed it big time.
Sowore’s primary constituency – if there is anything like that – comprises the almajiri in Kano who is untrained – and I dare say untrainable – due to the inhuman and inhumane politico-religious falsehood that has gained ground in the North; it is the area boy in Idumota who, like his northern counterpart, is also untrained and largely untrainable. It is peopled by fellow Nigerians sleeping on the bare floor along the rail line of Mushin, Lagos; it is the displaced man and woman, young and old in Abakaliki and Ogoni land.
Sowore has demonstrated over and again that the entire country is his constituency; that he is only miffed by the grand larceny of Nigerian politicians and the crass incompetence of those who lead our people.
His true constituency, in my view, is the oppressed class.
Sowore’s immediate family members live in the United States, far away from the embarrassment that has advertised itself as governance in Nigeria since 1999. Through his news platform, Sahara reporters, he has consistently fought the twin evils of corruption and incompetent leadership, Today that our common oppressors are smashing down his body, soul and spirit, he deserves our support, not condemnation.
It is not that he had no choice.
His wife and children live in a country where people leave home for work at 3am with absolutely no fear of insecurity; where an efficient transport system is in place to take them from home to work at that “ungodly hour” by Nigeria’s standard; he has seen what passes for public schools, compared to the ramshackle that we ingloriously advertise in Nigeria. Sowore is painfully aware of what passes as lunch for pupils in public elementary schools compared to miserable meal that their “lucky” counterparts in select Nigerian schools receive with so much fanfare.
He is acutely aware of how the refrigerator in the house of a “poor” family in any advanced country probably has more food items than what may be found in that of an average Nigerian big man.
The social crusader who is being derided is most certainly angry that three thousand dollars of American currency is more than one million Nigerian Naira; yet the Nigerian government in power is apparently uninterested in reversing the trend. He is most certainly disturbed that many Nigerian leaders have poured their children and concubines into havens in the US, the United Kingdom and several other developed countries.
In anger, he elected to lead a street protest to draw attention to the problems in his fatherland, even while members of his immediate family are safe in the United States.
With neither an organized army nor weapons, he chose a date for fellow citizens to draw attention to the pitiable lives of the people, in the hope that the government would be roused from lethargic sleep and positively address the people’s concern.
He underestimated the resolve of the current wielders of power – to retain their unjustified advantages in its naked form. The secret Police arrested him, and charged him with treason, along with starry-eyed Bakare. Agba Jalingo is suffering the same fate from PDP’s professor-Governor. Rather than express indignation and embarrassment at the devaluation of governance in Nigeria, this army of naysayers has turned on the victims.
With the government wielding the sledgehammer to fight the housefly, what do the people who stand to lose the most have to say? “It serves Sowore right!”; “Agba Jalingo is too troublesome!”
Is that so?
One day will be one day…
- First published in The Sun newspapers 26 October 2019