Social media has formed a pseudo-reality many believe is the real deal. But, if we wanted to cause progressive change and secure a lustrous future, Nigerian youth need to go beyond social media to actively express political power and rights.
The #EndSARS protests made us all realise that change is possible if we soro soke, out of social media. But, it seemed not enough to push the change we all desire – not especially when the conversations on migration became more comprehensive.
The BBC mentioned that “the anti-police brutality protests in Nigeria created a powerful movement that appeared to shake those in power.”
“The success of the protest in forcing concessions from the government – such as a promise to disband SARS, and wider police reform – has given Nigerian youth confidence and they believe that they can make a difference,” BBC continues. But we hardly had conversations on the next step.
In case you missed it: Police violence continues unabated, the stories are piling
Talks of a political party just for the youth filled social media spaces immediately after the Lekki shooting, followed by shouts of ‘old men, please go to sleep‘. But, that did not last long. Moments later, the same Nigerian youth consciously enabled ethnic divisions on social media and the same ‘old men’ were in the conversation again.
One thing is sure, Nigerian youth don’t trust Nigerian youth.
How long are we going to continue fighting ourselves, and to what extent must one be oppressed before we all decide enough is enough? We could get answers from Algeria who waited two or three decades before they stood up.
In defining oppression, we will be thinking of a string of collaborators, chief among them being silence, fear and deafness. Those are the “collaborators” Wole Soyinka referred to when he said, “The man dies in all who keep quiet in the face of tyranny.”
And, when we think of the absence or near-absence of intellectuals who could stand against all forms of injustice, our fear heightens. We ask every day, ‘who becomes the voice of the ordinary man?’ ‘Where do we go in search of the voice of reason?’ While we will find answers in Uganda with Bobi Wine taking a stand, the voice of Nigerian youth mostly stays on social media.
Man in his search for meaning—everyman— is Albert Camus’ rebel. In The Rebel, man must accept and seek to encounter the universe as it presents itself in absurdity. He encounters the universe out of a strange love and a need for something in which he can place his hope: “a moment comes when the creation ceases to be taken tragically; it is merely taken seriously. Then man is concerned with hope.” Rebellion in the face of absurdity finds hope in the beauty of solidarity which is rooted in the dignity of man, namely, that there is value in human life. In the darkness of an apparently meaningless universe, Camus is presenting a new humanism.
Notwithstanding the #EndSARS protests, young Nigerians have hardly rebelled against their leaders – against corruption or bad governance. We are talking about the kind of rebellion rooted in abyssal patriotism for the country, not just for its present state but for its future too. What must be changed?
The indispensability of social media
We cannot deny or diminish the role of social media in successful – or not – protests. But action must follow, and this is what many Nigerian youth lack – a continuation of being deaf and silent. There is, indeed, no guarantee that the youth population would bring about the change the country needs to prosper.
We will recall how the young Fela Kuti used music and fearless clashes with several governments to stand against injustice and military rule. You will say the conditions are different, but do well to see that oppression is the same.
We should be intentional about demanding change outside social media.
Nigerian youth should do more demanding for change – it is an urgent need. We cannot continue reading headlines and stopping at trends. Inaction says a lot, but when action becomes the real deal, Nigerian leaders see that young people have had enough of the politicisation of everything, especially corruption.
In their book Why Nations Fail, Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson state that, “Countries such as Great Britain and the United States became rich because their citizens overthrew the elites who controlled power and created a society where political rights were much more broadly distributed.” They further state, “The reason that Britain is richer than Egypt is because in 1688, Britain had a revolution that transformed the politics and thus the economics of the nation.”
The fear to demand change is informed by the fear of loss of life. But, lives are lost to bad roads, to police brutality, to heightened insecurity, to bad healthcare, and so on.
Inaction is death.
The pretence that what is happening to us does not concern us or is not happening, that deafness and blindness to the consistent rot of the state of our lives, the hope – in prayer – that things will be get better magically, has been the fire for normative failure in Nigeria.
The woke generation needs to wake up to its political rights and power.
Omoleye Omoruyi… an apprentice web/game developer, novelist, sensitive to happenings in the world. Meet him @Lord_rickie on Twitter/Instagram