by Uche Briggs
We can have an argument on whether Lupita Nyong’o is the most beautiful woman in the world. We can list the merits and demerits of having Arsene Wenger remain as coach at Arsenal FC. But on this issue, 49 days after 200+ girls were abducted, there should be only one mission: To bring them home.
The FG’s response has been a perplexing mix of indifference, finger pointing and debunking: in no particular order. Nigerians, failed by a PDP led FG, have resorted to the only means they know best, peaceful protest in order to force the hand of the government into taking decisive action.
For the King’s Men, it is difficult to mask the hatred and disgust for the protests going on all over the country and the world at large. Their tweets, couched in a didactic premise with little logic, fill the TL. Some ‘non partisan’ citizens have shown reservations with the protests simply because a number of the organisers belong to the APC. The #BringBackOurGirls campaign and the discussions surrounding it have thus brought to the fore the question of the role of the opposition in a democratic system.
The basis upon which a people can legitimately elect a government into power is the same one which provides a legitimate opposition. For democracy to thrive, a robust opposition is just as important as the democratically elected government. For the Nigerian context, I will like to discuss the opposition in terms of the coalition of political persons and/or parties who do not wield executive power. This loose definition primarily focuses on the APC. There are key responsibilities of the opposition as highlighted in literature. Hon. Alban Bagbin (of the Ghanaian opposition) highlighted some here: the voice of the voiceless, alternative to the ruling government, official opposition and partner in nation building.
A key role of the opposition is to oppose the government by demonstrating that there are certain elements or policies of the ruling government that are not in the best favour of the people. On the subject matter, when the FG had deliberately decided to ignore the issue, it immediately became the responsibility of the APC (and the opposition at large) to take charge and drive the call to bring back the girls. Indeed, the APC should be doing the job that Aunty Oby Ezekwesili is doing right now. So when the king’s men bemoan the participation of the opposition in these protests, it seems to suggest that they don’t understand the concept of democracy in the first place.
This responsibility of the opposition notwithstanding, the APC should understand the fourth role which emanated from current global exigencies: partner in nation building. This is terror staring us in the face. One wonders if the APC has not been complacent in certain issues to advance their theory of GEJ being, well – GEJ. How did it take Gen. Buhari that long to issue a statement (compared with the speed with which he refuted the adopted child scandal)? In a zone where the General wields such robust influence, why do we have sparse reports of his willingness to intervene? What idiocy informed Tinubu’s #BringBackOurGirls picture? What has Gov. Shettima done with the inordinate sums that come his way as security budget?
In a nutshell, the driving force of the #BringBackOurGirls protest is righteous and it is the responsibility of the APC to drive it and see it to a logical end. The buck stops at the table of the FG and as long as they invest considerable amounts of time and energy to orchestrate spin, we won’t get the job done.
In Other (related) News…
Amidst this “clusterfuck of epic proportions”, there have been dissenting voices about the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. Save for the few reasonable ones, it has ranged from the daft to the delusional. Nigerians are plagued by a unique kind of Stockholm syndrome; we don’t just empathise with our inept government, we also find disingenuous ways to discredit the people who seek change. From the infantile assertion that people marching to the Aso Rock villa in protest are abusing their freedom of expression, to the absurd logic that Oby Ezekwesili hired the thugs to disrupt the Abuja protests, Nigerians constantly push the acceptable boundaries of stupidity.
These same people wondered why the ‘hashtaggers’ clamoured for the release of Yusuf Isiaka (@ciaxon) illegally detained by the DSS, seeing as he was wrong to have taken the pictures in the first place. Their voices rose in pseudo-intelligent indignation when people decided to protest the fatal tragedy of the NIS scam. Weeks have gone by and Nigeria has behaved in its familiar way: Ciaxon has vanished from the radar, perhaps too damaged to ever engage in normal social exchanges on the internet; Abba Moro yet remains unshaken even when the evidence points to his complacency in their deaths. To be honest, we never start.
As with any movement, there are unpleasant extremities; people who abuse its essence in a fit of passion – or the lack of it thereof. Such was my shock at the Vogue-esque picture of the online fellow advocating for the release of the girls while pointing at her shoes. When quizzed about it, she remarked that it was a sign to tell the soldiers to quicken their footsteps in finding the girls. One can’t rid a campaign of such bizarre behaviour. While I disagree with certain motives and actions of key partners, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign is too important to exist solely to massage the egos of an entitled few. While we wage war with forces within and without, the clock keeps ticking and the lives of young girls hang in the balance.
So no, silence is a luxury one can’t afford. There will be no excuse for not joining the campaign and lending a hand to ensure that the government does its job. The devil himself could have called for the protests and I would be the first to arrive; pitchfork and all; marching to expedite the release of our lost ones.
Last Words: The family of Abraham Zapruder was paid 16million USD for an exclusive recording (sans audio) of the assassination of J. F. Kennedy. Let this sink in when you think about the @Ciaxon case.
– Follow this writer on Twitter @UcheBriggs