Lessons from #EndSARS for the North
By Ahmad Mubarak Tanimu
AREWA AGENDA – It is no longer a topic of debate on which region is more consequential in Nigeria between North and South when it comes to making demands from authorities. The south is obviously the most, dating back to the days of agitation for independence and the call for democracy during the tyrannical days of Abacha, the south was all in front.
The most disgusting part of the June 12, 1993 story is how Babagana Kingibe that was supposed to lead the resistance from North against the usurpation of their mandate as the running mate of MKO Abiola pulled out of the struggle. As if that was not enough embarrassment, he later accepted appointment to serve as a minister in the Abacha regime. This was how the struggle became solely a Yoruba struggle.
Albeit, the likes of Col. Umar Dangiwa (rtd), Sule Lamido, Shehu Sani and others identified with it till Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999. Reasons for Kingibe’s embarrassing stance on June 12 be it out of sheer cowardice, or deliberate betrayal or acceptance of divinely ordained fate is best known to him. But his story remains a typical example of where a Northerner failed to fight for his own right in Nigeria.
The #EndSARS protest didn’t come to prominence overnight. It was started and sustained by activists, bloggers and social media influencers in the South. They soon cajoled celebrities into joining the protest online and in a flash it became not just a national but also an international issue. Celebrities that lend their voices to the protest were generously rewarded with praises online, a feat that every celebrity craves and can pay to have it. They love to be trending with positive news about them. Celebrities that didn’t join the trend were pointed out one after the other and shamed. Then the youth finally hit the streets and the rest is history.
In the North, activists are mocked, celebrities are cursed and politicians are hero worshipped. Bloggers in the North are as scarce as water in the desert. I remember running a search on google about Nigeria’s top bloggers and how the result was completely skewed towards one region. It was actually not deliberately skewed, there are no Northern bloggers with national recognition!
Whilst the whole country was celebrating Aisha Yesufu for the uncommon courage and resilience she displayed on Saturday during a street protest in Abuja, a chunk of Northerners were casting aspersions on her and blackmailing those praising her. Meanwhile, the North has more problems and pressing needs that deserve to be addressed by the government, ranging from poverty and illiteracy to insecurity. But those with the capacity to coax government into tackling such challenges are often attacked and abused in the North.
To my amusement, even in the current ASUU strike that keeps our public Universities closed since March, the government is the hero and ASUU the villain in the eyes of many Northerners. The situation is as pathetic as this.
The #EndSARS protest began on Twitter and climaxing last Friday as the number one trend worldwide on the platform. Northerners are not much present on Twitter as on Facebook and Instagram whilst Twitter is the right place to make protest because information easily circulate in no time on the app.
English is the most efficient language to take your plight to national or international stage, but I have seen several instances where writing in good English is downplayed or even mocked at on Arewa Facebook. You will hear things like “(use of) English is not a measure of intelligence” and so on.
We have several issues bedevilling the North. We should perish the thought that the people we voted into power will automatically identify and solve those problems for us on a silver platter. No, they will not. We will have to drag with them to do it the way Southerners are dragging them on Social and conventional media. Let us allow activism in our land to flourish, channel the energy we use in insulting our local celebrities to something more fruitful, venture into blogging and stop pushing forward the people who post super stories that start with “please hide my identity” as our social media influencers if we but wish to have a loud voice in any national discourse.
Ahmad Mubarak Tanimu is a graduate of Economics from University of Maiduguri.
Arewa Agenda is a Publication of young writers/journalists from Northern Nigeria towards Peaceful Coexistence and National Development through positive narratives.