By Rev Fr Angelo Chidi Unegbu
1) As the pictures of the flags soaked in the fresh blood of the massacred #EndSARS peaceful protesters at the Lekki Tollgate Lagos Nigeria by the Nigerian military began to filter in, my mind went to the article I posted on Facebook on 4th February 2020 with an imaginary picture showing the Nigerian flag splashed with human blood, titled: _A Land Soaked in Blood and Tears: Only Restructuring or Referendum Can Stop the Carnage in Nigeria._ Could the picture I posted some 10 months ago be said to be prophetic or a forecast of that dastardly and cowardly act in Lekki? Not at all! It was not. That is the normal day to day reality in Nigeria which has however gotten worse today.
2) I therefore do not want to say or suggest any other thing different from what I had already suggested in that write-up 10 months ago: It is either restructuring or a peaceful balkanization of Nigeria that can heal the sickly Nigeria. Any other approach adopted will lead to more loss of human lives, misery, anarchy and retrogression. Delay is dangerous!
3) Nigeria is too big to run a unitary system of government because it is not a kindred or a village, but a multi-cultural, -religious, -political, -lingual, and -ideological nation. Let us courageously tell ourselves this truth for once: The present political structure is the mother of police brutality, corruption, incompetence, deceit and lies, mismanagement, electoral fraud, government-assisted massacre of its people, poverty, joblessness, infrastructural decay, judicial rascality, collapse of education and so on in Nigeria.
4) No Yoruba soldier or police wound have opened fire on its citizen if Yoruba runs a regional government. No governor of Lagos state would have allowed the killings of his people or have tried to cover it up if the Yorubas had their own government. Regional government would have awoken their fraternal and human consciousness. A simple implementation of the 2014 CONFAB resolutions could have saved all those lives that were wasted at Lekki Tollgate that night. We must be courageous enough to solve our problems and heal our land from the roots ( _sanatio in radice_ ) once and for all. It is either restructuring or a peaceful balkanisation of Nigeria. Until that is done Nigerians will continue to die like flies because we have been thrown back to the Hobbesian “State of Nature” where life is short and property is insecure. I mean where might is right.
5) The restructuring or peaceful division of Nigeria can easily be done within 6 months if only those who are feeding fat from our present faulty structure will agree. This group wants us to believe that the words “restructuring” and worse still “separation” or “division” are evil. To defend this, they are ready to maim and kill. They are found in all tribes and religions in Nigeria. The most pernicious within this group however are those foreign firms and nations working together with the Nigerian political elite to get their share of the booty, like vultures feeding from walking-cadaver. But the gains of the recent protest, if sustained, will put them on the run.
6) To achieve this purpose, future protests should be properly organised so that hoodlums whether government-, ethnic-, or self-sponsored do not infiltrate or hijack it, which is anyway the duty of a responsible government. Any nation where people cannot demonstrate or where protesters are not given adequate protection is a failed one. It is a jungle. It is sick. It is smelly. It is unsafe for humans. Peaceful demonstration is a fundamental and constitutional human right which was not given by any human or government and cannot be taken away by anyone. Any government that abhors and attacks peaceful protesters is like a nanny that cannot withstand a crying baby.
7) My fellow Nigerians, the protests have taught us that we have deceived ourselves for 60 years expecting the government to initiate reforms that will improve our lives. It has taught us that the destiny of Nigeria is not in the hands of politicians or elites but in the hands of citizens. The miracle of job, good roads, constant power supply, good hospitals, quality education for all can only be performed by us and no other. Not just the youths, all hands must be on deck. We now know how it works: peaceful protests. That is the key we have been looking for all these years. We must never lose it again.
8) May God give rest to those who were massacred by the Nigerian army on 20.10.2020 and every other person killed since the beginning of the protest till date. The spilt blood of theirs will never be in vain.