October 20th: Nigeria Redemption

On October 20th, peaceful protesters were killed by government forces at the Lekki Tollgate
On October 20th, peaceful protesters were killed by government forces at the Lekki Tollgate
On October 20th, peaceful protesters were killed by government forces at the Lekki Tollgate

My heart goes out to the families directly affected by the Lekki carnage last night (I say ‘directly’ because I and vast numbers of Nigerians are also deeply anguished by this tragedy). May they be blessed with emotional strength, Amen. To the gallant departed, cut in their prime, requiescat in pace.

In my Facebook post of 19 October, I commented that the warnings by two Ministers ‘portend a change of federal response from yielding acceptance to active suppression of the protesters’. I counselled for a more constructive approach, urging President Buhari to speak directly to the country, instil confidence in us that reforms will be delivered, and address issues of governance that extend beyond #ENDSARS. Sadly, this counsel was not followed, and the active suppression has been (predictably) bloody. My 6-point plan could have averted bloodshed (and consequential effects) if followed.

I also counselled that Federal and State functionaries should ‘manifest a strategic rethink, the rethink that #ENDSARS has mandated’. The Lekki carnage affirms that our leadership discountenances any such rethink. And this is consonant with my observation that this country ‘still bears the psyche of decades of military rule’.

Firing live bullets at unarmed, flag-waving young protesters will never resolve issues constructively. It is unpatriotic. It fans the embers of anarchy. Before the carnage, #ENDSARS marked a watershed in Nigeria’s history. With the carnage, it has also taken a cathartic dimension; may the blood of the brutally murdered unarmed young persons purchase sanity, social justice and peace for the current and future generations of Nigerians.

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In the years ahead, may Nigerians and the world at large be in a position to look back at October 20, 2020 and say that was the day that national rebirth commenced. Just as June 12 eventually became epochal in our history of democracy (‘Democracy Day’), I can see October 20 becoming epochal in our history of governance, the day commemorating our country’s liberation from decades of rape, impunity, ‘lootocracy’, social injustice and everything that constitutes pathetic governance.

On October 1, we mark our freedom from colonial rule; on October 20 we mark our sacrificial triumph over predatory governance. In other words, may October 20 become our national Redemption Day.

Unlike some countries, we did not have to shed blood for our Independence, so there is no red in our national flag. Blood has, regrettably, been shed in the fight for redemption, and last night’s blood-spattered green-white-green flag will be emblematic of Redemption Day.

– Leroy C Edozien
Ubili-Ka-Nkwu of Asaba

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