At first we didn’t have a voice, we dared not even have one. Before the gifts of social media that gave us channels and avenues to scream our displeasure was the military era, in the era of the military, we dared not speak, we dared not voice our displeasure, we were punished but we were not allowed to cry out in pain. Our media tried in those days to be our voice, they tried to show our oppression and suffering to the military, some ended up in jail for their passion, some were sentenced to jails beneath the earth, people we now regard as heroes because they died to give us a voice. Nobody could save us then, the media did try to speak for us but their efforts ended in mere speech. At the end, we were saved by an act of God, a twist of fate and one fair man. The act of God was the heart attack, the twist of fate was the powerful man expiring on a prostitute and the one fair man was the General who birthed our democracy. We were free.
With our freedom came advancements in many areas, technology was one of them, we grew with the rest of the world and evolved into the current age where we now live, an age of mobile phones, an age of social media, an age of interconnectivity and viral broadcast messages. We evolved into an age where we had all the tools to make our voices heard about any and every issue. Nigeria was a democracy too, simply explained, this meant that we could say whatever we pleased without fear of repercussions. Now we utilize our voice well. We cry out as individuals against oppression, we decry obnoxious laws, we ridicule illiteracy, we disdain politicians who care only for themselves, we cry out when lives are lost needlessly and we rail endlessly at the government for their inactivity in major areas of our lives. We do all these on our facebook accounts, on our twitter handles, on our personal blogs and on public blogs too, we take absolutely no action, we scream and scream our frustration over and over again, the louder we scream, the louder the silence.
We broadcast our desire to take action on blackberry, we sign broadcast messages crying out against inhuman acts and then we drop our phones and face the next thing. We are an army, Nigerians in this era are an army of people constantly advocating, screaming, crying and doing absolutely nothing. We have a voice and by god we will use our voices and nothing else. We organize protest marches on whatsapp and we turn up and march for a while, our targets hear us, then they ignore us, next we ignore ourselves and then the issue under contention fizzles out, next we wait for the next major opportunity to scream again on social media of our pain, frustrations and anger. The more we scream, the more obvious our helplessness becomes. What next after advocacy? What do we do next without power? Our voices are loud enough, how do we compel action after we have cried out? Do we continue to cry out, make our small contribution to every serious situation using our facebook accounts? When do we take the next step? What is that next step? Is the time for that next step not now?
Oh we have tried to show strength in the past, we shut down the nation early in 2012 when the subsidy on fuel was removed, we protested, we matched, we fought on social media and we wrung a “compromise” from the government, pray tell me what has become of that hard won victory? How much is the pump price for petrol in cities not Lagos or Abuja? And the money recovered from the subsidy removal, what about that? What exactly did we win after that battle? Give the girl a pen not a penis was another campaign, we insisted that no law be made to enslave our female children, but there was a poster child for infant marriage in the Country, a consistent lover of infant children, the one who proposed the bill in the first place, what became of him after we fought the bill? Did we try to ensure he wouldn’t get a chance to repeat the bill or the act? Another war won on social media where there are victors with no spoils of war. Then some evil “unforgivable-before-god-and-man” people roasted our children, our future and rekindled the social media war, the militant Nigerians, we raced to our facebook pages and wailed our despair, we blogged about it (I did too), the horrible act trended on twitter, our traditional media even brought us pictures. Testament to the fact that our advocacy was yielding absolutely nothing, while we cried, there was a grand party at the capital city, celebrating 100 years of survival, they knew we could do absolutely nothing to them, untouchable people who could party while we continued to rant and rave, we had become mad people to be ignored while the business of running us down continued. To cap it all, while they partied, they gave awards to the very people that muzzled and oppressed us before, we raced to social media to air our views as always but the descendants of our oppressors had discovered social media too, they raced to it and told us all the reasons why their father “deserved” an award. Obviously it will soon deteriorate to a battle of shouts on social media, we shout, they shout back too, nobody has monopoly of these channels and slowly but very surely, our powers fade.
It is Nigeria, some other thing will happen soon and we will repeat the same talk, our civil societies will do advocacy all over again, a vicious cycle never to be broken. We push, we mock, plead, cajole and cry over and over again with no response. We are not muzzled, we are allowed to say whatever we please, only we are not heard or we are heard and ignored.
We are once again where we were before, we couldn’t voice our wishes, we were oppressed for daring, now we can scream our wishes, we are ignored for daring. Isn’t it time somebody pondered with me, what next after advocacy? What other options are there? How else do we enforce the wishes of the people to the minority who do not care, but who have all the power.
Note: This article was written before our latest battle, the immigration world cup and deaths occurred.