A  call To The Trenches

By Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema

The gloves are off. The leopard has bared its fangs.

President Buhari and his men must be acknowledged for articulating and rigorously implementing a well-thought out, multi-pronged script of assault and intimidation on Nigerians. Just look at the measures being proposed and implemented since the End SARS protests began, and then ended. If anyone still thinks they are just about national security and stability, promotion of democracy and the rule of law, then that person is not studying Nigeria seriously.

Long before now, I said that the powers-that-be are not going to give in to the End SARS movement because of the fundamental threat it poses to their power. The fact that the people with one voice peacefully demanded for change is a threat they cannot accept.

Now their noose is tightening. We Nigerians, especially those aged fifty-five and below, are faced with a stark choice of bowing to them and losing our nation or standing up and be saved. And before addressing our options, let nobody begin the gospel of voting out the bald heads in 2023. These bald heads will not let go the electoral system. Strategies to perfect their hold on power have commenced both subtly and overtly. Buhari might go in 2023 but he will not dismantle the system that has been entrenched in Nigeria since 2015, indeed since 1999.

So what do we, the people, do?
First, we should not succumb to the pressures to be quiet. It is so easy to be cowed. The poverty; the bleak terrain; the gulags; the anti-social media bill; the Northern Nigerian leaders’ open, swaggering tyranny and the cowardice of their Southern counterparts; the boots on our heads; all these encourage one to be silent. But if Nigerians had kept quiet the military would not have vacated power in 1999. Dictators, no matter their color, abhor open voices of dissent. Do you think Buhari and his team are comfortable with Nigeria, their Nigeria, being on world stage as a hub of perceived and real oppression? Do not be fooled by their I-do-not-give-a-damn posture. Their interests matter.

Then we must organize, really organize. The fundamental laws of Nigeria, imperfect though they are, assign us rights and responsibilities. Till these laws are shredded, we should exercise them. It is true I said these chaps on the throne are not ready to vacate power in 2023 to ‘youthful rabble-rousers’ but that should not stop us from doing our homework. The results could be unexpected. Believe it, progressive elements can be found as allies in this decadent political system, be it APC or PDP.

This is a long term project which may not end in 2023. But if power truly changes hands it will quicken the process. These ogres have been around for so long they have entrenched themselves and their offspring in all circles of our national commonwealth. Getting them out will not be easy. We must ready for more, and increasingly repressive, persecution. Weak ones among the fighting Nigerians may yield to the juicy crumbs they will throw from their tables, or craftily crafted appeals to religion, tribe and other primordial sentiments.

It is time to take note of ALL those in positions of power who openly and secretly seek to destroy the End SARS movement; that Nigerians should not have a future; that our voices must be silenced. Then we begin to chase these bald heads out of town by keeping them in the spotlight and unforgivingly stand against any effort to give them a place in our halls of power once the master they serve leaves office. It is doable. The likes of Garba Shehu, the presidential spokesman, are no match for more than sixty million youths.

The trenches are calling again. The spirits of Ken Saro-Wiwa, Major Nzeogwu, Obafemi Awolowo, and all other heroes of our struggles past give us hope.

Henry Chukwuemeka Onyema is a Lagos-based author and historian. His first novel is ‘In Love and In War.’ Email: [email protected]

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