Some of my friends and I didn’t agree today on Facebook. I had opined that since the government had cancelled SARS, the protest should relax and restrategize. They disagreed.
At the back of my mind I pictured violence. Armed police against unarmed youths. Predictable result. Angry policemen. Unpaid. Badly catered for. Itching to take it out on youths they see as spoilt and pampered.
Some of my friends disagreed. The protests should continue until… until what, I wondered? The IGP gave assurances. The President topped it. The Lagos governor came out to give assurances. I worried that after all these we would begin to see casualties. It happened.
Videos of people felled and wounded. None was a policeman. Young men. Saw a young lady being dragged and beaten into the police station at Ojuelegba. All her mates ran and abandoned her. Only God knows in what state the poor girl would be now.
I am not being pacifist because I am a sissy. I was a member of a cadet force and for years grew up in the army barracks because my mum was in the military. I shared time with captured Biafra soldiers and saw unbelievable wounds and agony. They were often in our home. Indeed it’s the reason why today I am not a soldier. Poor mum flatly rejected the idea of her only son also being in the military. Ish. But in the barracks I saw enough violence.
Today again precious lives have been lost. Many have been maimed. No one will ever know the cops who pulled the trigger. None of them will be prosecuted. Paramilitary forces are trained to resist. Thank God they didn’t bring out soldiers. Their own is to completely subdue an enemy forcefully. Agents of violence. The casualty would have been more.
I stand by my position which wasn’t too popular with my brothers and sisters.
It’s okay to protest. I SUPPORT IT. We have cause too. We have causes. Haven’t we spent hours presenting our cases here? But there must be a strategy. When the government announced the disbandment of SARS, the protesters should have retreated. To plan the next step. Someone rebuked me: ‘Lolu why should the protest stop. It must go on until the President follows the disbandment with an executive order”. 😳😳
I felt tired. SARS is just a unit of the Police. It wasn’t created by an EO. It was created by the approval of the IG. Another IG has annulled it. QED. An EO is unwarranted. What for?
We must learn to know when to fight and when to retreat. Retreat is not a sign of weakness. Late Bob Marley said it: HE WHO FIGHTS AND RUNS AWAY LIVES TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY. That SARS was disbanded is a major victory. The protesters can claim this as a trophy. To continue after this will be viewed by government, rightly or wrongly, as confrontation. The only way governments know how to manage confrontation is by armed response.
Even in America, the last protest against police brutality ended when the governments promised to do something. The protesters didn’t insist that they would not stop until those things were done. This is how to manage grievance.
I feel for the dead people’s families. Who breaks the news to them? The wounded? The young lady in the police barracks?
Meanwhile those who are egging them on are peacefully at home. With their children. None will go out and try and bail the young lady in the police barracks. This is the sad reality of life. By the time Ojukwu was escaping to Cote D’Ivoire, he was alone!
In life we must never be cowards. I am not one. I wrestled a major multinational for five years. In and out of court. Eyeball to eyeball. At a point in the negotiation I knew when to retreat. I was happy with the quantum of victory we secured. Could I have gotten more? Maybe. Maybe not.
We must know when it’s enough. A dead hero doesn’t help this kind of struggle. You may win the battle. But from my experience it’s better to win the battle AND the war.
*Feel free to call this excuse making but voice of reason must be heard and prevail.