#EndSARS: When Your Brother’s Beard is Blazing

By the time that Nigeria will ripe for natural disintegration (as it is only a matter of time), the immediate cause will not be far from lack of national identity that the country never had. Since 2015 #EndSARS has been trending periodically. It is a protest calling on government to scrap a special unit set up by the Nigerian police to combat armed robbery on the Nigerian highways. But the unit has committed more crime than it prevented whilst armed robbery still thrive in the country unabated. However, as it is typical with Nigeria, whatever is accepted in the South is by default to be rejected in the North and vice versa. Thus, as the South (which by the way has a louder voice) says #EndSARS, the North is saying #SARSisOurFriend or #ReformSARS.

History has taught me a lot. The 1967 Asaba massacre chronicled the first state killing of unarmed civilians in Nigeria. Innocent men were led to a town square by their traditional rulers to give allegiance to the cause of one Nigeria before the federal forces in Asaba, the current capital of Delta State. The whole town gathered in the town square chanting one Nigeria! One Nigeria! But it wasn’t enough to save males of 12 years and above from the filthy bullets of the Nigerian Army! We saw a reminiscent of this gruesome killing by soldiers in 2001 in Zaki Biam in Benue State. Another one in Baga, Borno state in 2013 and most recently in Zaria, Kaduna State in 2015. Only God knows where next the Army will destroy innocent lives in great number with absolute impunity. But like Aldous Huxley would say “that men did not learn anything from history, is the greatest lesson that history has to teach”.

When Southern Nigeria was raining curses on Osama bin Laden after 9/11, the North was celebrating him and even naming children after him. Osama resurfaces in the North in the mould of Shekau and Boko haram is our own version of Alqaeda or even something worse. Before 2015, kidnapping was only a southern thing that northerners were even mocking them with. Today we are seeing probably the worst of abduction in human history unfolding in the North.

The moral of this essay is simply if you can’t join the #EndSARS protest because it is a southern problem, please do so with your silence and stop downplaying it. Anybody can be a victim of police brutality. Moreover, there is a Hausa adage that says “When your brother’s beard is blazing, soak yours in a water”. #EndSARS is beyond your regional and ethnic sentiment. It is a movement against desecration of lives and we all have life.

Ahmad Mubarak Tanimu is a graduate of Economics from University of Maiduguri

Arewa Agenda is a Publication of young writers from Northern Nigeria towards Peaceful Coexistence and National Development through positive.

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