The #EndSARS movement did not just come as a leaderless social movement advocating against police brutality and bad governance in Nigeria but also came with a conversation we have been trying to shy away from – the head-to-head between the System and the Nigerian Youth.
Amidst the loud chants, talks and shots are a silent dialogue between the system and the young. The young are talking but it seems the system is heard of hearing. On the other hand, the system is talking and it seems the young are too “distracted” to hear. Shall we spare some time to listen to these thoughts as they may determine if we will stand or fall.
THE #EndSARS YOUTH: Your generation has failed us; we want real change and it must come now! We will henceforth take charge of our future.
THE SYSTEM: Have you ever wondered why it always seems impossible? I know you all desire good governance but you have also failed to govern yourself.
THE #EndSARS YOUTH: Why hit me on my chest? Our innovations and exploits at home and in the diaspora are a proof that given the opportunity we can achieve great things. You just hate that we are bold, courageous and have a “firing” mentality and have done what you have been too scared to do.
THE SYSTEM: Here we go again, waiting for the opportunity. We took the initiative in our 30s, we were already doing exploits in business, academics, and politics as “top dogs”. Change is systematically and intelligently pursued.
THE #EndSARS YOUTH: Our intelligence speaks for itself; our innovation accrues millions of dollars, employs many and has birthed change in many quarters.
THE SYSTEM: Change you say, what change Really, what tangible change has your so-called “new age” invention fashioned. Has it brought bad governance to its knees? Wake up! you cannot unseat us with hands only behind keypads.
THE #EndSARS YOUTH: We sometimes want to come to the table but we don’t trust you. The trust has long been broken.
THE SYSTEM: The very political process you accuse of being obsolete, is what you allow on several occasions to use you. Who were the thugs that infiltrated your campaigns? Old People?
THE #EndSARS YOUTH: Damn the process and its encumbrances; the process is unreliable; it has for many years been hijacked by you.
THE SYSTEM: Status quos will remain until it is engaged. Your desire for good governance would ultimately be driven home by a political process. No continental or national “Mindshift” can see the light of the day devoid of politicking. To unseat me, you must challenge my legitimacy.
THE #EndSARS YOUTH: You forget in hurry, the global audience we reached in a few hours of tweeting and posting. We can indeed galvanize actors to sing our songs.
THE SYSTEM: Your protest failed. You ended up irritating a wound that needed methodical bandaging. Your grievances will always be heard but only with ears not hands. If you want change, you must begin to engage the process that legitimizes it. The real power comes by a political process whether you embrace it or not. Bad governance is not fixed by screaming at it from a distance. If you must shake or break the table, come with your tool and brain.
All in all, these conversations do not seem to have any end in sight. But what’s key from these chats is that we are living in a broken generational divide. The old want to maintain the old order of “stability”. The young think this is rigged against them and want to change the system they will inherit.
Whatever happens with both ambitions, if you must shake or break the table, come with your tool and brain.