By Muhammad Dahiru Lawal
This is surely one of the most vulnerable moments in world history; a time when internet community coordination and mobilization is becoming a highly potent weapon for disruptive convergence, a time when dissents are evolving from being pressure bodies to being more daring and lethal actors who defy civility, ruffle authority, invade sanctity and inflame nationality.
This is creating a new dynamics for citizens agitations towards seeking redress over grievances and one can bet that every Nation has its fair share of ups and downs, but National pride has always been the defining point between citizen patriotism and treachery. Ours may not be going through the best of times but in cases where we find ourselves on the brink, opening our doors to “sabi it all” meddlesome actors who recently became victims of karma, is a trajectory that is bound to injure our fledgling honor.
Recent events have proven to us beyond reasonable doubt that our differences as people of a defined political space remains our internal business, after all, no one holds the supreme custody to the sanctuary of human rights and free speech; the recent US Capitol attack and its attendant reactions is a case in point.
A tiny eruption by a handful of disgruntled followers of one renowned world narcissist, the table shook and the term democracy, human rights and free speech caved in.
US elected officials, world leaders and commentators were all scrambling on their heads using the strongest possible words to refer to what took place – “insurrection,” “sedition” and “coup” as weapons to express their displeasure and reaffirm their patriotism to their country.
Months ago, Nigeria witnessed a similar insurrection – albeit on a wider scale – that threatened to pull down its fundamental pillars, the same Twitter for example that supported that movement, called for bitcoin donation towards the movement and unveiled an emoji for the cause is now busy not only shutting down ‘free speech’ and suspending Trump’s personal account – as powerful as an American President is, but going ahead to issue a statement of deep concern that revealed plans for future armed protests which “have already begun proliferating on and off-Twitter, including a proposed secondary attack on the US Capitol and state capitol buildings on January 17, 2021″ yet they did not suspend accounts of the EndSARS falsehoods and incitements even though some users openly confessed to being guilty as charged.
In a statement, then US presidential nominee and now leader of the “free world” in-waiting, Joe Biden, affirmed that he stood with Nigerians “who are peacefully demonstrating” but when the tides turned the same incidence with the same characteristics and features as the Nigerian version, ceased to become a “peaceful protest” but “disorder” and he couldn’t dare “stand” by them. The same pattern of double standards is visible across individuals, corporation and International Organizations who reacted to similar crisis in different worlds. What is good for America is not good for Africa.
From the forgoing, it’s obvious that acts of meddlesomeness and expression of diplomatic finesse is not a game of who cares more for the welfare of citizens of other country but a game of interest for which only the smart and cunning holds the ace.
While we continue to hold our authorities to their responsibilities in our own different ways, Nigerian’s must learn to come through for their country in times like this.
It is time for us to understand that issues like this must be treated as a national security event — one that would require additional law enforcement and intelligence assets towards acceptable resolution. We must therefore always understand where to attack from and where to support from.
At the time many were busy dishing out loads of false information against our government and security forces with the aim of wanting Nigeria to be sanctioned, only few individuals and Organizations like PRNigeria stood up for the love of country. Infact, PRNigeria was not only busy bursting falsehood at the expense of angry backlash, but went ahead to unveil a chronology of 101 fake reports paddled during the period under review.
As a matter of fact, recent report shows that many Nigerians seeking asylum outside the country are doing so under the pretext that they are victims of EndSARS and one begins to wonder why must seeking for greener pastures across the border be at the expense of blackmailing ones nation?
While applauding citizens who are always very meticulous in balancing between their bias and National interest, I should reiterate the need for us all to be wary about enabling malign actors who sow division and amplify conspiracy theories against our collective Nationality.
Meanwhile, I must commend our security Forces for standing tall in the face of trials and tribulations, particularly the Department of State Service (DSS) who relied on intel to engage stakeholders including the media in deploying non-kinetic approach towards ensuring that some of the issues are doused, an act that led to a very successful outcome.
Against all odds, our security forces are putting their lives on the line to remain in the frontline for us, it remains our patriotic duty to stand by these men and support them to win the larger war against the more develish insecurity that has plagued us for decades.
That these disruptive insurrections against authority are being coordinated on social media, once again brings to the front burner the debate on free speech – with a new reality on ground, to what extent does the world want to define it and where does it lead to?
In conclusion let us keep in mind the African proverb which states that, “if there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm”
Every progressive country is only only as trong as what its citizens makes it out to be and every retrogressive country is only as weak as its citizen’s non challance!
Mohammad Dahiru Lawal, a development Journalist, is Campus Journalist of the Year #CJA2020, Winner “Best Features Writer (Print)” Award #CJA2020 and Convener/Managing Editor, Arewa Agenda for Sustainable Development.