In January 2020, the world became globally informed of a novel and deadly virus ravaging Wuhan a few kilometers off the capital city of China Beijing. The state of awareness came almost at the same time globally like a wave. The virus had been operating for a month in this Ground Zero but the world was at the time careless, inhuman, and nonchalant.
Fast-forward to March and by the end of that month, the entire world had been grounded to a halt by the COVID-19 virus. What started as an outbreak soon became an epidemic leaving in its wake, death, gloom, and devastation. Before we could say, Jack Robinson, an epidemic soon turned into a full-blown pandemic and the world began to scrapple for a modicum of understanding of this nouveau disastrous agent.
Countries of the world began churning out infection numbers by the hour recording global infection rates of exponential proportions. It wasn’t long before Nigeria recorded its first infection and soon we were submitting exponential infection rate as the days came.
Eminent Nigerians announced donations in billions of Naira towards combating the spread of the virus and even more towards the preservation of the lives of the citizens within her borders. There’s no evidence whether these funds were merely audio or the funds were actually remitted. News of palliatives lifted the spirit of the masses as people stuck glued to their TV sets but mostly to their phones, crawling through a web of millions of information that had sprung up with the aim of providing one or more information of relevance to whom it may concern about the COVID-19 pandemic.
We sat isolated in our homes, streets empty, and roads paved with no vehicles to ply. Through March, April, May, June, and even the first weeks of July, we start physically isolated from friends, some from families, in most cases than not, co-workers. Front-line workers could move freely as long as they were able to prove via means of identification, their status, and purposes.
One Million Boys Club
As though to add salt to injury, a host of young able-bodied Nigerian teenagers, merely boys innumerable for no one dared or maybe cared to, called themselves “The One Million Boys Club” audaciously wrote tens of communities informing them in no uncertain terms that they will be coming to rob the unfortunate community that would next host them.
They succeeded in raiding many communities until the rest communities decided to take the bull by the horn. Vigilante groups were quickly formed and for a period of two to three weeks, every street around Agege to Agbado axis of Lagos State, a few kilometers off the State’s capital Ikeja kept vigils characterised by the burning of tires all night long and making noises with cutlasses (matchets) and banging on gates of houses. A desperate bid to inform the One Million Boys as they were informally called that these communities will not stand for their escapades and that should they come close they would be met with fierce confrontation. People walked the streets of Lagos with matchets in broad daylight. By then the lockdowns were being relaxed for the first time in months but only a test-run with strict curfews still in place. The displays and vigilante worked. The One Million Boys Club fizzled away like the ephemeral it was.
There was to be no rest for an already embattled year. #EndSars cast upon the backdrop of similar cases of police brutalities in the United States of America where a white American cop killed one unarmed African-American Geoge Floyd lynching him to death by placing a kneel over his neck for seconds. An event that sparked worldwide protests not just from the black community but whites, Asians, and Arabs. The protest continues to this day with soccer players and officials taking a kneel before the kick-off of every football match since sporting events were allowed back in June.
In October, Nigerian youths came out en mass to protest police brutalities in the country. The protest quickly grew to the demand for national reforms not just in security but in power, healthcare, and other sectors of the economy. A bold, brave, and constitutional move. But things soon went sideways when allegedly, the Lagos State Government allegedly responding to directives from the Federal government allegedly descended upon peaceful protesters at Lekki Toll Gate and opened live ammunition against them. Lives were lost and several left seriously injured. In response, the youth the following morning allegedly burned down a portion of TVC under the impression of inflicting loss in a certain Lagos “Political Kingmaker”, razed down a fleet of about 40 Lagos Public Transport (LAGBUS) vehicles, and several other vices including looting of SPAR, SHOPRITE, and a host of other businesses were attributed to #EndSars campaign.
Shocking live videos went viral online spearheaded by Twitter. Many of them captured how the Nigerian Army directed the aim of their gun in a downward direction that could be interpreted as aiming directly at innocent young protestors who are acting within their civic rights. Some videos show a group that seems to be the Nigerian Army too cutting off all exit points to the protest ground with barricades of fire as if to box the protesters in. Yet another video went round with people who appear to be paramedics claiming they were denied access to reach the injured protesters.
We are still required to wear masks as part of the measures to curtail the spread of COVID-19. As of the time of this writing, rumour has that the President, Mohammodu Buhari (GCFR) will imminently address Nigerians about a possible third-wave of lockdown.
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