It was the famous Elie Wiesel who once said that “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Nearly two years into the change deal, Nigerians carry the look of a people that have been sold a dummy. The anguish in the country is palpable, the anger, infectious; the frustration, nauseating; and the impoverishment, viral like wild fire. The litany of issues currently confronting us will make for a difficult sermon but perhaps, most predominant for the man on the street is the strain that is currently been put on him and his ability to provide his daily bread.
It was mixed reactions by Nigerians when popular artist, 2face Idibia announced the cancellation of the planned protest, of which he was the brainchild. Though 2face was able to explain himself and why the purported rally was shelved, the general consensus was that he bowed to sheer pressure from powerful quarters. A part of me is excited that 2face pulled the plug on the rally, largely because I fear that a good number of Nigerians were going to join the protest for the wrong reasons. If popular vibes on social media were anything to go by, then the relish ahead of the hitherto protest reeks of misplaced interests. In the minds of many, it was a chance to see 2face live on the streets, take selfies destined for Instagram with him, and possibly see him perform live without a fee. I also worry that while it is fine for him to galvanize the movement, it should never be about him. If it is indeed true that many people have bought into the raison d'être of the movement, then it should go ahead with or without 2face.
Indeed, one has to give 2face Idibia the benefit of the doubt in his decision to cancel the planned protest. He might have borrowed from Goodluck Jonathan’s book when he declared that the protest was not worth anyone’s life but he had a point. The rally was beginning to take a different colouration. Yet, there is a sad feeling that this was a missed opportunity. From Brexit to Trumpism, there is a populist wave blowing across the world and the case for the ‘little guy’ is starting to mean something. One wonders if 2face has not blown away a needed spark to a movement that could lead to somewhere bright for our nation. It is in days like these that the departures of the likes of Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Bob Marley stings the most. These were artists who understood that their musical stardom came from the streets, and that leaves them with a moral burden to fight for the same streets. There is also a sad narrative to the botched protest which was hinged around the assumption that the protest was sponsored by some political big wigs in the opposition. It defies believe how almost every discussion in Nigeria dovetails into politics. Why must it almost be about politics? If indeed 2face was being sponsored, so what? The real question in a saner country should be: Are the issues he raised true or not?
Having said that, one wonders if we needed a 2face Idibia to remind us that our national plight requires some speaking up. The docility of the average Nigerian borders on suicidal. The lip service and gross apathy boggles the mind. The cacophony of complains usually stays in the confines of beer parlours, commercial buses and Iya Sikira’s restaurant. At best, there are few rants on social media which most times ends with a tribal, religious or political fisticuffs, depending on your allegiance. It is almost a broken record to say that we are first Nigerians before we are anything else but that is the truth. The rich will be deluded to think that the perennial sufferings of the poor are not his headache. It is often said that when the poor are pushed to the wall with nothing to eat, they will eat the rich. The point is that there is the urgency of now that cannot be ignored. It goes beyond passing a verdict on the Buhari led administration. Nigerians are simply tired of its leadership (past and present) and the bastardized political structure that churns out such leaders. Nigerians are tired of failed promises, startling impunity, incompetence at all levels and fluffy ideas. Most importantly, Nigerians are hungry with palpable anger in their eyes.