Something is seemingly romantic about the date. It is so seducing that you can hardly forget it – 20-10-2020 – a Tuesday. Yet, it was a black Tuesday. A day of death! That was the day Nigeria finally descended into the cesspit of chaos and infamy.
That was the day Nigerian soldiers shot and killed scores of fellow countrymen whose only crime was the audacity to demand for the “change” their leaders promised them more than five years ago when they were on the hustings seeking their votes.
They were massacred because they had the temerity to ask for good governance. They were unarmed, massed at the Lekki toll gate that had been their sanctuary in the last 13 days since the EndSARS protest erupted like wildfire all over the country.
They were seated, some holding the Nigerian flag and chorusing the National Anthem when the soldiers came like the proverbial thief in the night.
The attack was premeditated, which makes it not only worse but unconscionable. Before the soldiers released volleys of bullets that sent the youths who begged for their lives, raising the Nigerian flag as a white handkerchief of surrender, a dovish overture for peace, to their early graves, the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras at the toll gate were disabled and the lights switched off. When the shootings quietened and the army disappeared leaving in their wake blood, sorrow and tears, the most tell-tale evidence of the tragedy was the bloodstained Nigerian flag, pictures of which adorned the front pages of some newspapers on Wednesday.
Had the shootings taken place in Mushin, Iganmu and such other hotspots where rioters held sway, it wouldn’t still have made it right but it could be explained.
But the fact that these killings took place at the very place where Nigerian youths have admirably demonstrated their capacity for civilized conduct raises more poignantly the question of motive.
What was the goal? To strike fear into the people? If it is, that strategy has backfired spectacularly. Now, Lagos is on fire, literally, just because of the moronic use of overwhelming force and live ammunition on unarmed civilians by soldiers.
The youths may have left the toll gate but they are now everywhere. The situation has become more fluid and dangerous. Buildings are going up in flames and the godfathers have gone into hiding.
That is what happens when a country has rulers that have more brawn than brain. The chaos took long in coming, though, but if there is any surprise at all, it is the fact that some people seem to be surprised at the tragic turn of events in Nigeria.
Any discerning person would have known yesterday that a day like today will come. It was only a matter of time.
Now, the chickens have come home to roost.
Whatever happens after the Lekki toll gate massacre, Nigeria will not be the same again. The Lagos mayhem is impunity taken too far. But that is what happens when those in power convince themselves that they have completely conquered and dominated their environment.
Last week, I wrote about President Muhammadu Buhari’s “in-your-face attitude” when he nominated his Special Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, an unapologetic card-carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), overtly partisan, as a member of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) against all extant laws of the land. Not even the national outcry has convinced the president to withdraw the nomination. Instead, his political party, the APC, that has enabled him in all his impunity tried to wheedle politically unwary Nigerians by resorting to false moral equivalency. They accused the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of doing the same when they were in power.