By Tony Okoroji
Is it possible to be sad and yet happy at the same time? This week, I seemed to be both at the same time.
I was sad as the events of the Lekki massacre of October 2020 of young Nigerians who were asking for a better nation became news all over again on all major news networks across the globe and the reporters seemed to be making jest of the government of Nigeria.
At the same time, I was happy that a brilliant Nigerian woman who chaired the Lagos State Panel of Inquiry on the October 2020 Lekki toll gate shooting, had the courage to speak truth to power and officially report to the world what we all knew to be true. Our army and police, paid with public funds, massacred young Nigerians in cold blood for doing nothing but seeking that their nation with so much endowments from the Almighty, should be better led. I hereby move a motion on this social media platform that a big national honour be bestowed on Hon Justice Doris Okwuobi for her courage and wisdom and for giving the young people of Nigeria hope for a better tomorrow.
Justice Okwuobi could have looked at what happened recently to Justice Mary Odili and shuddered. She could have thought of her career in the judiciary and developed cold feet. She could have worried about the unknown gunmen let loose to kill, maim, rape and desecrate everything everywhere and ask herself if it is worth it. She did none of the above and became a great heroine of the Nigerian nation.
I am proud, very proud of what the youth of Nigeria did in the weeks of the #endsars protest. I am exceedingly proud of the leadership provided by young Nigerian artistes. I have always expressed the view that no nation in the history of mankind has been made great by cowards and that you cannot have omelets without breaking eggs. The youth of Nigeria showed that they are not cowards and decided to break the eggs necessary for there to be omelets in the land. When I go to court next week, I will go with confidence and the knowledge that there are the likes of Justice Okwuobi on the bench.
Let the truth be told, it is not just about the police or SARS or army. Our nation has completely lost direction. A self-serving leadership that appears to be deaf and dumb, has assumed that they own the country and all the milk and honey in it. In their minds, the rest of the nation have become their slaves and what we say does not matter.
Did we not say that we do not want to be colonized anymore by the British? What we did not realize was that we were going to end up being colonized in a worse manner by people who claim to be Nigerians.
One day during the #endsars period, I spent almost 5 hours in traffic from Ikoyi to Ikeja, the time it should ordinarily take to travel from Lagos to Onitsha. At some point, the car was stuck for close to three hours at exactly the same point on Western Avenue. The petrol in the tank of the car dried up and one of my colleagues had to search for a jerry can, to go and buy some fuel to keep the car running. My colleagues complained bitterly about the heavy traffic caused by the #endsars protesters. I said to everybody in the car that I was prepared to spend 5 days and 5 nights on the road if that was going to make the Nigerian nation better.
For some reason, Nigerians had accepted that someone from somewhere would solve the Nigerian problem for us and we would live happily ever after. That is not in tandem with history. Our seeming cowardice simply emboldened our oppressors who became very comfortable, levied more wickedness on us and assured themselves that they would ride on the back of Nigerians forever, at no cost. In 2020, something appeared to be brewing in Nigeria and the oppressors became worried. Anybody who thinks it is all over is a fool.
I have been an activist for much of my life. I have carried placards over and over again and led dangerous demonstrations. This is not because I am a troublemaker but because if we do nothing, nothing will happen. I go to court more often than many busy litigation lawyers not because I want to bring anybody down but because I need to be clear what our laws mean and what the rules are.
Repeatedly, I have said to people that I engage in positive nuisance, nuisance that gets people to wake up and do that which they must do. Positive nuisance is a marathon and not a dash. People will call you all kinds of names but it does not matter. If you display staying power, I have no doubt that change will come.
It was positive nuisance that drove Martin Luther King Jnr to become an icon of all times. It was positive nuisance that drove Nelson Mandela to rescue his people from the clutches of Apartheid. It was positive nuisance that took the late Gani Fawehinmi to jail and back several times and inscribed his name in gold for all times. What I call “positive nuisance”, the late African American civil rights leader and congressman, John Lewis, who passed on last year, called “good trouble”
I do believe that among the millions of young Nigerians that demonstrated on the streets during the #endsars protest, there is a Martin Luther King, there is a Nelson Mandela, there is a John Lewis and most certainly, there is another Gani Fawehinmi. These are the people who will sort out this nation and deploy positive nuisance or good trouble to give the Nigerian people a chance.
Every 4th black person in the world is a Nigerian. If Nigerian lives matter, black lives will matter. Who is seconding my motion so that we can start a major campaign, #HonourDorisOkwuobi?
See you next week.