It was a long walk to freedom. For five days thousands of Lagosians walked several kilometres to and fro freedom park, Ojota to protest against the sudden removal of fuel subsidy by the Nigerian government. A journey that has been long overdue. A walk that we should have taken years ago, when Nigeria was still pregnant with corruption. Perhaps, it could have been delivered still born. Unfortunately, the baby was carried to term and delivered as a bouncy baby boy. It now walks tall threatening to destroy our land.
Thankfully, it’s better late than never. Nigerians finally took the streets, protesting, not just the subsidy removal but against the corruption that has eaten so deep into our nation. A country where the office of the president budgets 1billion for feeding in a year while the average Nigerian lives on $2 per day. Where the senate president reportedly earns 40million per month and civil servants are fighting to be paid a minimum wage of 18,000 per month. You wonder when we became like this or have we always been this way?
On Friday, as we walked back from the protest sight, a car lost control and skidded off the roads, nearly knocking down several pedestrians. The men among us rushed to the scene to offer assistance. Close by were stationed some policemen. They remained unmoved, unconcerned. One puffed out his cigarette at us when we questioned their indifference. There seems to be such a disconnect between the government and the people. The protests have been a huge step in the right direction and though we have left the streets now, we must go on to occupy the lives of these corrupt leaders.
We must stop celebrating them. Our religious organizations must cease to harbour them. If the polity refuse to prosecute them, then we the people will ensure that they become outcasts in the society. When thieving politicians are booed in public, allowed to sit only at the back seat of churches if allowed in at all, their children snubbed for their undeserved wealth, then would we truly have occupied. As long as we celebrate them and allow them to reign as kings among us, then all our efforts in the past week would have been in vain.
The road to freedom park might have been long but it has brought freedom a few steps closer.