On Pride, Protests and New Year Wishes

Gimba Kakanda at the anti fuel subsidy protests in Minna, January 2012.
Gimba Kakanda at the anti fuel subsidy protests in Minna, January 2012.

Gimba Kakanda and I set up this [Nationwide Action For Sincerity and Reforms] group about two years ago, at the time of the anti Fuel Subsidy removal protests. As a sort of clearing house for ideas amongst Nigeria’s youth–using the ones with internet access as a sample. It grew exponentially and is perhaps the biggest such group with an open platform in the country. 22,000 people and I just approved 157 join requests.

I decided to take a visit through today and was amazed to see it was still running quite well. My fears while I was actively moderating the Group two years ago all revolved around members having huge fights and becoming more polarized than ever. Yet, reading through, I see that just as fanatics of various types are there posting freely and just as obvious FGN or “opposition” hatchet people and profiles are there moving their binary agendas, the voices for moderation have not been silent either–cutting across religion and ethnicity and age. The comments of a certain “Tanze Makama” filled me with joy, as did the comments of so many others, emphasizing mutual respect while not shying away from putting sentimental posts and comments to task.

I admit to having been shocked into indifference in the aftermath of the protests–the already sold out activities in Lagos and elsewhere, the lies of Ngozi Iwaela, the betrayal by the NLC and the Oil and Gas workers, so much else–and deciding to stay away from it all. But now I see that this group, approximately 0.01% of the Nigerian population, comprising an important demographic, is as virile as my Nigerian dreams whose flag I flew proudly those days in January. . .

I did not create this discourse, or these people, beyond being there at the right place at the right time to make and follow up on a decision. And there were so many others who helped out in the crucial weeks of the fuel subsidy protests–Gloria, Jeff, Ada Chukwuma, Aziz Fagge and so many others. But I think, now, that I can be a little proud that when I was in that arena of my Age, I took actions that without a doubt moved its momentum forward.

On this note, I wish all the true intellectuals in the mould of Edward Sa’id, wary of false binaries, who are in their twenties and thirties, who believe in One Nigeria, a glorious new year. There are trying times ahead but we must, we must against all perils, stand by what we believe and force it true by the power of our sincerity and clarity–for sincerity and clarity make error so obvious as to force it to change for the better as well. Salaam.

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