Rioting And Looting Obscures The Message Of Protest By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Rioting And Looting Obscures The Message Of Protest By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju


The micro-riots that broke out in several parts of Lagos and some cities in the Southwest is unfortunate. The looting that accompanied it, chipped away at any goodwill and support the protest may have had. You cannot use anarchy to raise awareness against police brutality, maladministration, elite greed, and repression of civil liberty by government and its agents.

I supported the #EndSARS at the beginning because young people need to learn how to organize and be politically engaged through social activism. Activism is priceless for its ability to create social awareness and change policies. Unfortunately, rudeness, inexperience and distrust pockmarked the protest. It became us versus them. An entire generation of activists were labeled as "Gbẹ́nudákẹ́" and told off, as "Werey" if they did not and have not "S'ọ̀rọ̀ s'ókè". What is lost on the youth, is that everyone is a product of his generation and each generation builds on the efforts of the previous one. While it is their protest, it should have served them better to listen more. It is dispiriting that the energetic #EndSARS demonstrations ended in untold violence, destruction and looting. Unfortunately, the protest would be judged by its worst contributions not by its greatest. Setting private properties ablaze, destroying courthouses, commuter buses and looting of small businesses is very concerning. Every shard of broken glass in the shopping malls are tiny cuts to the economic lifeline of the cities involved especially Lagos. Most looted businesses are not big corporations, they are mom and pop businesses. 

Too late now, hindsight is 20/20 and any analysis now amount to Monday morning quarterbacking. The protest has revealed a frightening distrust of government. The invasion of warehouses is wrong because government do keep stuff for emergencies long before Covid-19. Has Covid-19 gone? State governments were still giving away food before the protest. Most laughable is the case of Ekiti State where people invaded silos built by the Federal government but concessioned to an agro-company. People ferried superphosphate fertilizers thinking it was garri and made away with chemically treated corn. 

In my personal opinion, hunger did not drive the looting of warehouses or invasion of silos. The way silos are constructed, it can't dispense bags of rice nor cartons of noodles. We have values problem in the Southwest. I don't believe hunger drove people to loot. Greed and adrenaline of the mob, drove them. When I was young, I can't imagine partaking in such activities without my father beating me to pulp. If you take what is not yours or what you are not permitted to take, it is stealing. I am confident none of my nieces and nephews or my daughter will participate in such activities. It is sad that people are taking what is not theirs. It is more sad in Ekiti where the vulnerable and aged get food and money monthly. The killing is unjust and condemnable, so is the looting and destruction of public and private properties. 

As things return to normal, we the people must think of the kind of country we want to have.

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